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How to Make Executive Search Easier

Executive searches are famously hard: it is time to make executive searches easier. Executive recruiting challenges are all too common, often due to outdated executive recruiting “best practices.” Executive searches often take too long. Far too many executive searches fail. Even when an executive opening is filled, sometimes the “transplant doesn’t take”. The executive hired turns out to be someone the employer would rather not keep. A survey by the Corporate Executive Board found that one out of every five hires is a “bad hire” that the company regrets making.

Clearly, executive search isn’t rocket science. At last check, executive search consulting isn’t even offered as a specific major. Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations does offer an advanced program in partnership with the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). But that’s as good as it gets. Still, preventing problem searches requires a level of expertise that few search firms have. Executive recruiting “best practices” are outdated. They lack the research expertise needed to make search smarter. We believe that is one of the main reasons executive recruiting continues to stump the world’s leading retained search firms.

Executive Search Stumps the Experts

Spencer Stuart, Russell Reynolds, Heidrick & Struggles, Korn/Ferry, CTPartners — all have searches that fail to complete. The industry average is a whopping 40%. Part of that percentage has nothing to do with the search firm. Clients may suddenly decide to eliminate a role or to keep an incumbent they previously wanted to replace.  Still, even when you factor in those other causes — the failure rate remains far too high.  Failed search inevitably leads to frustrated clients who cannot help but feel a little used.

Executive Search Methods Are Outdated

Another large recruiting challenge is that executive recruiting “best practices” are outdated. The process hasn’t really changed in more than half a century. Again, it isn’t rocket science.  To solve the problem, all you need to do is listen to the frustrations of executive search buyers, invest in serious research expertise, and institute a new, improved methodology. It is basic common sense. That’s what we did at The Good Search.

Executive Recruiting Challenges. Executive Search Got Easier

How to Make Search Not So Hard

The key to making the executive search process easier is to make it smarter. For one thing, harnessing the power of information and data analytics enables much more strategic executive recruiting.  For another, it helps you avoid landmines that blow searches up. Connecting the dots offers the shortest path to the best hires.

Invest in Research Expertise

That is why The Good Search has taken research up a notch. The research is what identifies, profiles, and produces top candidates. With the amount of data in the world doubling every two years, there is a veritable treasure trove of candidate information available that you will not find in resume databases or on LinkedIn. In my former career as an investigative reporter, I learned to use databases to prove things you could not prove any other way.

Harness the Power of Data

That same method — harnessing the power of data — drives amazing results in executive search engagements. In other words, executive search doesn’t have to be so hard and it does not have to fail so often — not if you know how to make search smarter. The moment you do, you’ll notice a seismic shift. Suddenly, executive search just got so much easier.

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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford is CEO of the retained executive search firm The Good Search and of its research division Intellerati. A former award-winning television journalist and investigative reporter, Ms. Bradford now pursues truth, justice, and great talent in the executive suite.View Author posts

2 thoughts on “How to Make Executive Search Easier”

  1. These databases you mention… Any suggestions? I’m a young Executive Recruiter looking for more talent sources outside the usual resume databases and LinkedIn. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Ah, grasshopper, if I told you I’d have to shoot you;-) You need to ask yourself at the beginning of every engagement: where might data about our ideal candidate exist: If you are seeking license professionals, there are licensing boards with details about who is licensed, whether the license is current, and whether there have been disciplinary actions against them. There are governmental databases that are public. Every time we interact with a governmental agency, a record is created. With what federal, state, or local agency might your candidates interact? There are proprietary databases. Then also ask yourself whether there is a relevant industry database that might contain valuable data to help calibrate your candidates to determine who is a top performer. Last, often you need to “build your own” by appending data to a database of your own making. Data science resources and data journalism that uses data to find things out are good places to start to learn the basics. See the Data Journalism Handbook.

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