“What is an executive search firm” is a question you might ask yourself if you’re new to the search process.

In a nutshell, an executive search firm is a company that helps companies hire executives and other senior level roles.

Think of them as an executive recruitment company. However, they are a bit different from your typical recruitment service. Since they are working on higher level positions, the process, business model and results are different from recruitment firms.

What an Executive Search Firm Does

An executive search firm assists with the hiring process from start to finish. When you have an open position or are looking to bring on a new senior executive, they’ll start by consulting on who you’re looking to hire.

A good search firm will take the time at this stage to deeply understand your goals, your situation, and the challenges you’re facing. After all, they need to know what you expect of a new executive and what obstacles they might face.

Next, they work with you to define a job description.

After that, they work on finding candidates at the executive level. However, finding qualified candidates for leadership roles is hardly easy.

Executive search firms find candidates in different ways. Some will dig through databases to find relevant candidates. Here at Qualigence, we’re able to leverage our in-house recruitment research team. In fact, our research team is the largest in the United States.

That means we can identify candidates relevant to your needs. It also means finding candidates that other firms might miss.

After finding candidates, executive search firms will interview candidates and present the candidates they feel best fit your needs.

Why Use an Executive Search Firm?

Search firms are more than just a tool to help you find candidates. Ideally, you should view them as a search partner. They offer executive search consulting to help you clarify what you really need in role. Additionally, that consulting should include suggestions and recommendations on how to best meet your business goals with a new executive.

For example, an executive search firm might inform you that your salary range is off base for a given role. Alternatively, they can speak from experience with similar roles to offer advice on things to look for or avoid in a candidate profile.

Different Executive Search Firm Models

Not all executive search firms operate the same way. There are different billing models.

Retained search is the most common. With this model, firms charge roughly a third of the candidate’s annual base salary. You’re expected to pay half or a third of that fee upfront. They bill the rest of the fee when the client hires a candidate.

However, we use a different model at Qualigence. We bill our clients hourly. After all, why should you pay thousands for a retainer before you’ve received anything of value? Our hourly model grants you flexibility. Additionally, it allows us to work transparently with candidates. It’s different than most executive search firms, but the results speak for themselves.

Retained search firms have the same problem as contingent recruiters. They’re paid when you hire a candidate. That’s great…but it means they’re financially incentivized to rush the process at times. It also means they might withhold information from a candidate or client in order to make a hire faster.

With our hourly model, we’re paid the same amount for every hour of our time. It allows us to focus on finding the right candidate above all else. We’re here to find a great long-term fit for you AND the candidate. Not all executive search firms can say the same!

Great Leadership Starts With a Great Search

Leadership is everything. And it all starts with a great search. Once you’ve found and placed a successful candidate, the sky is the limit. Pick your executive search firm accordingly!