As an employer looking to engage a recruitment professional to manage your hiring process for a new ‘executive’ or ‘C-suite’ talent, there are two distinct pathways you can take, which may deliver very different results: ‘contingent recruitment’ or ‘executive search’. After almost 20 years in the industry, its clear that contingent recruitment is the model that most hiring managers are familiar with, however, executive search while less well known, has many benefits for you the hiring client.

Contingent recruitment is exactly what it sounds like – contingent on services being completed, the agreed fee is paid to the recruiter (purely a success based process). Contingent recruitment agents will often use broad searches of active candidates to send as many prospects as possible to the client. Quality is often therefore low, as is the time spent on sourcing candidates particularly if there are multiple ‘agencies’ that are in a race to the finish line. Ultimately success rates are generally poor leaving the client feeling disillusioned.

“Executive search is a far more thorough and exacting process, this means that the recruiter is exclusively engaged to conduct an exhaustive search of the market, seeking out the best talent in a far more personalised and thorough way.”

There are many benefits of executive search – here are a few of them:

1. Executive search allows a relationship between consultant and client
Executive search, which is as we’ve mentioned is exclusive, allows the consultant to work far more closely with their clients, offering better communication and a greater understanding of the organisation and its needs. This can become an extremely valuable relationship as it will grow over multiple hiring processes and years, streamlining the future recruitment experience for all.

Listing a position through multiple recruitment agencies for a ‘contingent’ service can be risky – while it seems like more market coverage may be available, it also means that recruiters are then competing with each other to fill the position, rather than working for the client.

2. Executive search consultants will not stop until the position is filled
If a position is not filled quickly, contingent recruiters will often give up and shift focus to another hiring requirement (perhaps an exclusive one), leaving your position unfilled. Engaging a search consultant guarantees that finding the best executive for your company remains a priority until the right person has been hired.

3. Executive search can be more cost effective
Executive search consultants are engaged on a ‘retained’ basis. Fees are split into three stages: typically, one third of the fee at the commencement of the assignment, the second third upon acceptance of the shortlist, with the balance on placement of the chosen candidate. This costs no more than a contingent placement and may often be cheaper, with search firms perhaps offering discounted rates on retained executive searches on the basis that their risk versus reward is significantly lower.

4. Clear timelines and thorough reporting keep you in the loop
Whereas with contingent recruitment you may not be notified of the recruiter’s activity until they call/email with a list of potential candidates, executive search provides deep and intricate reporting throughout the search process. This includes long lists, target candidates, market mapping of potential talent, progress reports and statistics about prospects approached, details of candidates interested and interviewed, keeping you updated throughout the search.

5. Your organisation brand remains the focus
An executive search executed by one specialist firm with clear instruction will prioritise your employer brand, ensuring that candidates receive a smooth and positive experience through clear and consistent brand positioning – whether they ultimately get hired or not. This is a key consideration for many of my clients, for whom employer marketing is a strategic HR focus.

6. The search process is tightly controlled and confidential
Searching for a new executive can sometimes require absolute confidentiality, for many sensitive reasons. The lack of confidentiality while hiring can be catastrophic for some clients. The private and controlled nature of executive search ensures that you will get the best person for the job with complete discretion and anonymity.

7. You get access to the best talent within the market – not just ‘on’ the market
Executive search does not only draw from the pool of professionals actively looking for work, it casts the net wide to find the best candidates in the field, whether they’re looking at job advertisements or not. Often people who aren’t considering a change, who get a call out of the blue are the real gems in a very talent short market.

Executive search has these and many more benefits for organisations looking for a committed and discreet recruitment process that will ensure their new executive is the best hire possible – not just the best available.

CxO Search offers executive search services on a retained basis. To start a conversation about how we can best meet your executive recruitment needs, contact us on +61 (0)2 8249 8824 or