How to use an Executive Search firm

By 2 October 2014 No Comments

Recruiting key staff is an important undertaking with serious cost, morale and performance implications. It requires careful preparation, briefing, articulation and above all, consistent and effective communication.

Working with an appropriately skilled Executive Search firm should lead to a successful outcome but the search firm will need your full participation and collaboration if they are to fulfil their role.


  • Agree on the experience and personal qualities required and draw up a clear list of ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ criteria against which all applicants will be judged.
  • Discuss potential pools of candidates and the types of organisations to be targeted to ensure the market is covered thoroughly.
  • Agree on a timeline for the initial research and when the longlist and shortlist can be expected.
  • Clarify the interview process and decide who will be involved from both parties and at what stage.



  • Stay in contact with the search firm throughout the entire process providing timely and comprehensive feedback on all aspects of the project, as well as any developments within the organisation, to ensure the firm is fully briefed.
  • Evaluate candidates against the agreed specifications – these are the cornerstone of the search.
  • Refine the specifications if you find that something is not working and communicate this clearly to the search firm so that either existing candidates can be reappraised or new candidates can be approached.
  • Ensure that meetings are arranged in a timely, efficient and professional manner keeping to the agreed interview process and take candidate preferences into account wherever possible.
  • Make sure that someone who is able to make decisions about the process is always available if things change.



  • Don’t delay – time is of the essence in securing a favoured candidate.
  • Ensure clear and timely communication throughout the offer, negotiation and acceptance process, either directly with the candidate or through the search firm.
  • Remember, the search firm can also help with advice and support on inducting and settling your new staff member during what is often a crucial phase, thus ensuring a stable and happy addition to your senior management team.


For further help, you might find the following guide – published by NCVO – useful:

Good Guide to Working with Consultants by Jon Fitzmaurice and Jenny Harrow

Download this article as a PDF:

How to use an Executive Search firm.pdf