Getting the Most From the Executive Search Process

The executive hiring process is extensive and rigorous, with highly competitive markets. When clients need proven and successful leaders in their organization, they often turn to a retained executive search firm, such as Grant Cooper. A well-executed search process employs several key strategies to ensure the right candidate is placed at the right organization at the right time. Grant Cooper Senior Partner, Kent Rapp, shares some of the key factors for ensuring a successful search and how to foster a relationship between executive recruiting firms and hiring entities.

Be proactive. Create a list with the most important skills a successful candidate will have, including preferred personality traits and background experiences important for a candidate’s success with the company. Be sure to highlight any internal candidates or referrals so the firm can include them in the search process from the beginning, as this will make everyone feel they have been treated fairly. “All candidates, regardless of how they are sourced, should be handled and vetted in the same manner,” Rapp noted. Make sure both parties have an understanding of the work environment and benefits of working for the organization, which can set companies apart from one another to candidates.

Be clear in the requirements. This includes both the organizational hiring team and the search firm. “The position description is the roadmap, and when well thought out, it should lead you to the right candidates,” Rapp said. “Without a good job description, you’re almost sure to get lost.” Anticipate market questions and compile data and metrics specific to the role. The data will help inform potential candidates about the status, as well as long- and short-term goals of the company. It is only when both parties understand the role, substantial responsibilities and required qualifications, that the firm can move forward with the next step in the search process.

Create an effective partnership between Human Resources/hiring manager and the search firm. The HR executive is one of the key relationships in a successful recruiter/client partnership. Often the main point of contact, s/he can help navigate the organizational culture and provide timely support during pivotal moments throughout the search, such as planning, logistics, community tours, on-site interviews and offer negotiation. “We often lean on HR professionals during various stages of the executive search process. They provide institutional knowledge that can only be gleaned through working for that organization,” Rapp remarked. “A strong partnership is essential to a successful search process.”

Clear and frequent communication is essential. Ensure that there are no surprises during the search process through prompt, clear and frequent communication. Feedback is critical throughout the entire search not only to keep the search on track, but to guarantee that top candidates are being recommended. Follow-up with phone calls and emails, and communicate any potential concerns or challenges that might be on the horizon. Chances are, seasoned recruiting professionals will know exactly how to handle any curveball thrown their way. “I try to approach all of my work using the Golden Rule. It’s important to treat all clients like you would hope to be treated if you were in their shoes,” Rapp shared.

Executive recruiting is an important part of any organization’s success, as well as the future success of candidates hired. Following the tips above can make the executive search process smooth for all parties involved.

About Kent Rapp

Kent Rapp, MBA, Senior Partner: Kent Rapp joined Grant Cooper following nearly 20 years of experience in domestic and international general management, marketing, and sales. He served with a variety of Fortune 500 and privately held consumer products companies and financial services organizations. Kent’s search practice focuses on executive level positions across all functional lines in commercial and industrial companies, healthcare, business and financial services organizations, and an extensive list of not-for-profits.

About Grant Cooper

Grant Cooper is a retained executive search firm working to identify and recruit superior executive talent for our clients. Boutique in size, but not in scope, Grant Cooper’s collective partnership applies more than a century of hard-won executive search expertise to its search engagements.