· 2 min read · Features

The evolution of executive search


Resources dedicated to new hires can be significant, but how is the outcome evaluated? Does it go beyond the appointment itself? Traditional search models – based on fees and cost per hire – are no longer enough but there is an alternative approach better suited to today’s business needs.

Convention dictates that search firms are ranked according to size. Meaning the companies with the largest revenues are at the top of industry tables. League tables are a common way of selecting a partner to help attract and engage the talent an organisation needs to flourish.

But size is not everything. Just as the new generation of talent has different career expectations and aspirations – so too should employers when it comes to measuring the success of individual hires.

Rather than accept the transactional nature of traditional search – such as fees, placement rates, and cost per hire – it is possible to demand a more agile service. One that is aligned with leaner operations; where KPIs reflect a more performance-driven business. Evaluation should be benchmarked against key criteria such as:

Data ownership

Are you given all the data resulting from the search – not just the shortlist? This provides much better value for money and helps build a pool of talent that is already engaged to a certain extent with your business. Does the company allow you to make further hires from the long and shortlist or is there an additional fee within a given timeframe?

Scope of search

Does your chosen search partner look at your target population as a whole, including passive talent, not just individuals already in the ‘little black book’? A narrow approach could mean you miss out on a wealth of hard-to-find talent simply because it is not actively looking.

Depth of insight

There is a huge opportunity for gathering vital information on your organisation during hiring. Your chosen search firm should give you a clear picture of how your brand is perceived in the marketplace; both good and bad. What did the target population say? Are they interested in working for your company? If not, why not? What are they looking for in an employer? This analysis can feed into future recruitment plans and influence brand positioning going forward.

Quality of hire

How much do you know about the candidate – length of service, promotion opportunities and success, 360 review feedback and so on. This should be researched and provided as an integral part of the service.

Candidate experience

Are there processes in place to ensure it is a two-way process? Is it positive? If not, why not? Does the candidate have an accurate impression of your employer brand – this should be seamlessly presented as an extension of your team.

Client satisfaction

How is this evaluated? Are strengths and weaknesses continually monitored and addressed?

By questioning established search methodology in this way the value of what is offered can be fully evaluated, and search transformed from a purely fee-oriented service to an integral part of overall business strategy.

Jane Kirk is practice lead consumer & industrial at people intelligence consultancy Armstrong Craven