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What is executive search?

Executive search is a recruitment process that involves “hunting” for the best candidate to fill a specific role at a particular organization.  It differs from other types of recruiting in that is it based around the concept of “passive candidates.” The assumption that underpins executives search is that the best candidate may not be actively looking for a role and so is unlikely to be found on a job board. As a result, search firms “headhunt.”

What is the difference between retained search and contingency search?

There are two types of executive search – retained and contingent.  Retained executive search is the “pure” form of search.  Under the retainer model, the executive search firm receives an upfront payment, a further amount at the delivery of a “shortlist” and a final payment at the time of completion.  The guaranteed payment structure allows the recruiter to invest the time to go out and map the entire market and undertake a full review of potential candidates.

A contingency executive search works on a “no fee, no pay” basis.  Generally speaking, a contingent recruiter will only be paid in the event of a successful placement, and so is likely to invest less time in the research process.

In recent years, a variety of cross over models have been developed, including “container search” and “exclusive contingency.”  These generally involve some form of upfront retainer, exclusivity for a period of time, but no final payment unless a candidate is recruited.

How can you be found by an executive search firm?

Search firms rarely use job boards.  As a result, a candidate wishing to be found for a position needs to either build relationships with a large number of executive recruiters or be visible to recruiters.  Visibility can be achieved in a variety of ways.  A good starting point is an optimized Linkedin profile.  However, for executives wishing to share more detailed information on achievements and aspirations, creating a free profile on GatedTalent should be considered. Executives are also invited to join a complimentary “executive careers” webinar to understand the process better.

what is executive search?
Recruiting Brief