Executive search processes

Introduction to Executive Search Processes

  • Executive search, often referred to as headhunting, is a recruitment process focused typically on top-level or key leadership roles.
  • It is a specialised recruitment service used by organisations to find and recruit highly qualified candidates for senior-level positions.

Understanding a Client’s Needs

  • The first step in the executive search process is a deep understanding of the client’s needs, their corporate culture, and the requirements for the vacant role.
  • Executive consultants must engage with the client to comprehend the desired skills, experience, and leadership qualities.
  • The goal is to develop a comprehensive job and candidate specification, including responsibilities, key performance indicators, and desired milestones.

Research and Mapping

  • Once the client’s needs are understood, an extensive market research and candidate mapping process is undertaken.
  • Recruiters employ various techniques like industry analysis, competitor mapping, and networking.
  • This step helps to form a long-list of potentially suitable candidates.

Outreach and Assessment

  • After the long-list of candidates is created, the executive search consultant reaches out to these candidates.
  • They evaluate the candidates’ aptitude, skills, and overall fit into the company’s corporate culture.
  • Interviews are used to assess the candidates and verify information collected during the mapping stage.

Presentation of Candidates

  • The most promising candidates are then shortlisted and presented to the client.
  • The client further interviews them before making a final selection.
  • Client feedback is sought after each interview to refine future searches.
  • Once the client is satisfied with a candidate, the executive search firm assists in negotiating the terms and conditions of employment.
  • Reference checks and other vetting processes take place.
  • This ensures the candidate fits within the ethical and professional standards of the client’s company or organisation.


  • Follow-up is an important but often overlooked part of the executive search process.
  • Regular check-ins help to ensure that the client is satisfied and the new hire is settling into their role well.

Remember, the goal of executive search is to not only fill a role but to find the right fit to benefit the organisational strategy and goals successfully.