Bill Holland - President Mandrake | CEO Advisory Services - executive search

By: Bill Holland  09-12-2011

The why, what, who, when, where and how of using an executive search consultant. Why hire an executive search consultant?
An executive search consultant brings critical objectivity to the hiring process. While there are certainly benefits to having an “insider’s perspective,” hiring managers are sometimes too close to the process to identify problems and challenges that may arise. With a limited perspective, they may not find what they need, which is the best talent available. Not only does an executive search consultant have an objective view, they also have access to top talent that cannot be reached using basic corporate recruiting methods. What does an executive search consultant do?
An executive search consultant follows a rigorous search process. At the outset of a project, they take the time to understand the client’s business and talent requirements to ensure they engage in a targeted search for the right person. The consultant works with the client to carefully outline the job requirements and determine ideal characteristics of the new hire. An effective search consultant then uses a number of resources to access the best talent in the marketplace – accomplished, passive candidates who are currently employed. They conduct thorough assessments of the best candidates and make hiring recommendations. Consultants are skilled to participate in the job offer negotiation and approach it from a win-win perspective. After the hire, they advise on onboarding to ensure the candidate makes a smooth transition into their new role. Who makes a great executive search consultant?
The best executive search consultant is a consummate professional with significant and relevant industry experience. They have a tremendous network of talent which they continue to build. An effective search consultant is skilled in the art and science of search. They have the technical ability to research and recruit passive talent in the marketplace. Most importantly, they understand what motivates talent to consider new career opportunities. Excellent consultants know how to evaluate candidates on paper and in person, with an ability to get at the right elements in an interview. They are effective negotiators and know how to close a deal so you can start putting your new talent to work as soon as possible. When should an executive search consultant be used?
An executive search consultant should be used when a strategic hire is required. Hiring managers often don’t have the time or resources to undertake a thorough search of the marketplace. Working with an executive search consultant allows them to focus their time and efforts on running their business. Selecting the right consultant takes time, so it’s best to establish a relationship in advance of needing their services. This not only serves to build trust, but can also expedite the process as the consultant will already be familiar with the client’s business when the need for a search arises. Timing is often critical when making a hire, so the sooner the process is started, the better. Since a search can take several weeks or months, engaging a search consultant as early as possible allows for a more comprehensive search process. Rushing a search is never a good idea. Where does an executive search consultant find talent?
Effective consultants are committed to building their network of talent. As professional researchers and networkers, they have broad and deep knowledge of the local market. While it’s generally quicker and less costly to source talent locally, sometimes the best talent resides remotely. Well-connected consultants have access to international talent and can take advantage of their global talent networks. How does an executive search consultant find talent?
Effective executive search consultants are process-oriented and work hard to achieve results. They take a strategic, systematic and well-planned approach to search, using multiple resources to find the best talent. This includes using their own talent database, connecting with network contacts and using online professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Furthermore, they are skilled in the traditional recruitment method of good old fashioned research and direct recruitment. Finding talent is the business of executive search consultants, and to do it effectively, they have to leave no avenue unexplored.

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