5 Tips for Success in Your Executive Search

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By Spencer Greenwood

Sales & Delivery Manager

Learn how to find the perfect C-Suite candidate in your executive search.

In a normal contingent or direct placement job search, it is critically important for companies to discover talent that aligns with a specific role and is capable of handling the various responsibilities that come with it. But in an executive search, there is much greater significance placed on finding right-fit candidates. When recruiting for these high-impact roles, the stakes are exponentially higher.

If your organization is looking to hire its next senior-level or executive employee, the following tips can help ensure that your recruiting process is a successful one:

Get your organization on the same page

One of the most important steps in the executive recruitment process is to align your company’s decision-makers and discuss your collective vision of what your ideal candidate looks like. Be aligned on your collective vision for the role and the impact that you need your new hire to have. What do you want them to achieve in the first 30, 60, 90 days and beyond? Explain the types of experience that you are seeking in this new hire, along with the skillset and personality traits that are desirable for the role. This will be crucial to the efficacy of your initial sourcing and recruiting efforts.

With any executive search, selectivity is essential. These senior-level candidates will play a significant role in influencing the culture of your organization, so it is imperative to find a candidate that embodies the values of your organization. Not only does the individual have to be qualified for the job, but he/she must also be a strong cultural fit for your company. Organizations have recently found success by leveraging tools like personality and behavioral-based assessments to forecast how candidates will perform in their new role. Failing to fully vet and evaluate your candidate may lead to confusion or even chaos down the road.

Know the market

When identifying an executive role that needs to be filled within your organization, you should generate an intimate understanding of the job market for that kind of position. Research your competitors to see what kinds of candidate experiences and personal growth opportunities that they are offering their senior-level candidates. Know the ins and outs of your competition and how your brand stacks up against it. Taking the steps to enhance your employer brand will ultimately help your company in attracting qualified prospective talent.

At the executive level, your organization should have more to offer than just a lucrative compensation and benefits package. Learn what kinds of opportunities that these individuals are really looking for in a new position to more effectively woo them to consider joining your organization. Think outside the box and generate creative yet personal ways to engage your potential C-suite candidate.

Be proactive, not reactive

If you want to find the best possible candidate during your executive search efforts, you probably will not discover them on the job market. Instead, your ideal hire is most likely employed and succeeding in their current role. And more often than not, your potential superstar hire is currently working for your competition.

This is where passive candidate recruiting strategies come into play. If your organization is trying to appeal to these passive candidates, it is pivotal to formulate an exceptional sales pitch—one that conveys the strength of your employment brand. In some cases, the individual that you are trying to attract may have a limited understanding of your company’s background, so perfectly scripting this initial conversation is critical to your executive recruitment success. But don’t expect to woo your ideal candidate overnight—instead, take the time to develop a meaningful relationship with this individual. This will only boost the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts.

Use behavioral interview tactics

The behavioral interviewing technique is used by employers to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behaviors. Studies show that this approach is 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, compared to only 10% predictivity in traditional interviews. Behavioral interview strategies pose open-ended questions and statements to the candidate that are designed to elicit detailed responses from them.

Beyond this effective interview approach, try to generate an understanding of how this executive candidate is going to elevate your company to the next level. By bouncing ideas off of each other in an organic way, you will get a better feel for how the individual reacts to compelling and thought-provoking questions.

Clearly define process expectations

Upon initiating your executive search with a list of qualified candidates, your organization needs to have a plan of attack in place. When these interviewees ask questions about the recruiting timeline or next stage in the interview process, you need to have the answers readily available.

Ultimately, your company sets the tone during the recruitment process. If your decision-makers collaborate quickly and make swift decisions after the interviews, you will leave a positive impression on the candidate that you hope to hire. But if you let the process linger on for several weeks—or even months—your odds of success will dwindle.


In today’s job market, executing a successful executive search requires more sourcing expertise and recruitment skill than a traditional job search. While the process may prove to be challenging and time-consuming, the ultimate reward will come upon the discovery of the right-fit leader that your team needs.

Looking to outsource your talent search to a dedicated recruitment partner? Acara can help find the A+ talent you need to round out your C-suite team. Check out the benefits of our executive search services.

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