What You May Not Know About Executive Search Firms

Benefits and processes of an executive search firm

Is everyone in agreement that you need to hire, at least one additional person, to your leadership team? But is there less agreement about the skills that person should possess or how you would go about finding him or her? This is normal.

An executive search process requires a lot of work and a lot of clarity if it is going to be successful. A recent study* found that 28% of hiring managers say that their leadership team is not aligned in what they consider to be their hiring needs. When there are differing expectations from the start, the whole process can seem insurmountable and it is very easy to keep putting it off.

Are These Thoughts That You Have Had?

  • I know we need to begin the process of finding our next executive, but I don’t know where to start.
  • I do not want to start a search process only to stall when other priorities arise.
  • Getting the leadership team on the same page, regarding talent needs, is going to be very challenging and potentially impossible.
  • We do not have a great recruiting process in place and ‘winging it’ could go poorly.
  • The lack of forward movement is stressful but the idea of launching an executive search feels stressful too.
  • Getting an executive up-to-speed takes a while, so I know the longer we wait to hire someone, the longer we have a significant gap.

Executive search firms were created to help with these needs.  That may come as a surprise since many people assume executive search firms work very transactionally. The perception is they present a handful of candidates that match the list of qualifications that you handed over.  This is far from the truth! (At least it is far from the truth for Centennial’s clients.)  There are much greater benefits of partnering with an executive search firm than getting a person to fill a role.

Benefits of an Executive Search Firm

Let’s take a look at the multiple benefits of partnering with an executive search firm.  One caveat: I am speaking from the perspective of my organization, Centennial, so I can’t guarantee this is accurate for all search firms.

Executive Search Firms will…

  • Executive SearchExpand the number and quality of candidates you have access to
  • Create clarity around the role, including expectations and goals for the new hire
  • Foster alignment among your team and all key stakeholders
  • Maximize your time by interviewing only the most qualified candidates
  • Allow you to keep your top priorities focused on your business and manage the allocation of time focused on the search
  • Provide additional business insights from talent consultants
  • Allow someone else to manage the details of a first-class candidate experience
  • Provide confidentiality to both the client and the candidate

These bullets provide an overview of the benefits that may not be initially obvious when you consider an executive search firm.  Have you experienced other benefits not listed here?

A common misconception is that executive search firms are the same as a recruiting agency, or a general nomenclature: a headhunter. There are significant differences.

Is an Executive Search Firm the Same as a Headhunter?

The vast differences between an executive search firm and a headhunter stem primarily from the level of service and the intentionality of the search. An executive search firm, and specifically Centennial, is very deliberate about getting to know the client’s goals and objectives.  This intentionality makes it possible to find not just a relatively good candidate, but to find the best leader for your role.

Our entire hiring process is wrapped around the Culture, Character, Chemistry, and Competencies of your organization and those of the candidates.  Aptly named, the 4C Recruiting Process®, it is the reason we ask strategic questions and do not limit ourselves to only the candidates who are actively looking for a new job.  We are not looking for the most available candidate, we are looking for the most qualified candidate for the future of your organization.

The Pandemic’s Effects on Your Executive Search

2020 was a year of learning.  Most of our lessons came out of trials that we did not see coming but it has shaped the way we view our talent needs.

Here are a few things that are true of talent needs because of the events of 2020:

  1. Business and life have changed a lot in the last 12 months. The talent we need to lead our company forward may not include all the talent we have today.
  2. The events over the last year have accelerated succession planning for some of our team members.
  3. Based on the innovations and new business lines that were developed to meet the needs of 2020, we need additional talent to continue this part of our business plan.
  4. Now that we have proven to ourselves that we can hire talent remotely, what talent could be available to us that we have never considered before?

The 4 bullets above are just a start. What other affects have you and your organization seen?

Would You Like Help with Your Executive Search?

What about you?  Do you see the need to hire new leaders?  Could you benefit from the expertise of an outside partner? An executive search firm may be the right decision for you.  A partner to help you create alignment, maximize your time, and hire the best talent possible.

We understand that your time, efforts, and strengths need to stay focused on where you can make the greatest impact for your business. Our time, efforts, and strengths will be focused on where we can make the greatest impact for your business: helping you find and hire the right talent for your needs.

If you’d like to learn more about our firm and if we can bring value to your organization, please schedule a call. We would be honored to talk through the possibilities and to learn more about your goals and objectives related to talent and leadership.


*Centennial, and its business partner, Talent Magnet Institute®, conduct proprietary research from hiring managers and people leaders from around the world. If you would be interested in participating in our next confidential research project subscribe to our newsletter.



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