How Do Executive Search Firms Find Candidates?

executive search firms

The main issue with most companies and startups is that at the executive level, they find it really hard to search for candidates. Here comes the job of the executive search firms, which are professional companies that help in hiring candidates according to the right talent needs. So, what do candidates really have to possess to get under the radar of a search firm or a recruiter? We discuss what exactly executive search firms look for in candidates and what process they use to find them. If you are in Dubai and looking for top executive search firms, then check out this link for top executive search Dubai.

Why are Executive Search Firms Needed?

So, why exactly do companies make the decision to go ahead and hire an executive search firm? Obviously, all companies want the best-suited candidate to fill their job opening positions. It can’t always be the case that a person with the best qualifications and experience is also fit for another job’s day-to-day work. This is because with each work comes a different type of expertise, responsibility, and outlook. So, these factors make companies go for an executive search firm.

Executive search firms look for candidates that suit the profile that the companies want. Because often, the team present in the company doesn’t have the desired network or skills to hire talented candidates. If you have a company based in Dubai and need talented candidates, then check out this link for top executive search Dubai.

How do Executive Search Firms Work?

There are some hard-hitting facts that individuals looking to be hired through an executive search firm need to realize. Some of the points telling us how executive search firms work are:

  • Even though sometimes, executive search firms are referred to as executive job search firms, they are not really there to provide you with a job. This is because these recruiters actually work for their clients, which are the companies. They are not there to find you a role that suits you. That’s why, if a candidate is going to an executive search firm, they need to understand the intentions and motivations of the recruiting firm.
  • Similarly, the headhunter in an executive search firm will not come to you even if you are someone who is seeking a new job opportunity or are the one looking for a job. The recruiters in the executive search firms prefer those people who approach them directly. You have to be the one to proactively put yourself out there.
  • The opportunities and openings are generally very confidential. So, even if you are in the eyes of one recruiter, it doesn’t necessarily mean they know about the openings that suit you. You need to be in the network of the particular recruiter assigned for a particular opening.
  • In the continuity of being proactive for a search to approach an executive search firm, you need to realise that these opportunities are not always going to be listed. You will see that a big percentage of the opportunities for which an executive search firm is hired will not be pinned on job boards. You won’t even find them on “executive job boards”.
  • When an executive search firm is hired by a company, these client companies believe that the firms have to go out of their way to search for the talented candidate that suits the opportunity posted by the client company. Hence, these recruiters don’t just read the CVs or resumes of the potential candidates. That’s why the executive search firms needed a tight set of recruiters, especially at their senior positions. According to research done by Gated Talent, about 26% of the senior roles of job openings are generally filled by retained executive search consultants and not through a formal hiring procedure.

How do Executive Search Firms Find Candidates?

There are a number of perspectives and factors that executive search firms consider when they are hunting for talented candidates. They can’t just simply produce excellent candidates suiting a role in their company. Also, the top executive search firms only seldom put up advertisements when they are looking for candidates to fill up new opportunities. Some of ways through which they do their search are:

Looking through Peer Networks:

This is a very common way to look for required candidates. Each recruiter does have a networking circle in which they know some people who might be looking for new job openings. Although this might be a convenient way to bring in candidates, this might not be the best way to search for the right candidates. Obviously, everyone wants to do right by their friends and connections but, in today’s age companies are looking for diversity and inclusion and thus the job of the recruiters in executive search firms becomes to bring in a diverse set of candidates.

Thorough Researching:

This is probably the most efficient way to bring in the best set of candidates. The executive search firms will have to have in their firms specialist researchers who can enlist many candidates who have the profile and potential to fill in a job opportunity. The process of researching these researchers do will be different with each search. For example, the research might target a company. Hence, candidates who have worked or work in the said industry the client company is open in will be seen as potential employees.

Looking for Candidates within Similar Companies:

Depending on the demands of the client company, sometimes it is best to look for candidates that are already working in similar companies as the client company. After all, an executive search firm is hired to solve the hiring demands of a company so, hiring from a competitor may seem fruitful.

While these are all different angles to consider when an executive search firm looks for candidates, it is important to note that all these perspectives are equally important to consider. When looking through any one of the angles, there might be chances of hiring wrong. Also, it is important for recruiters in executive search firms to look for diverse qualities in potential candidates because often job openings need candidates with skills that go beyond what is needed in the industry.

How Long Does an Executive Search Take?

Typically a search for the right candidate by the executive search firm will take around three months or 90 days. Although it is often predicted that as close as 95% of the time, the right candidate would be the one that is interviewed during the first month or 30 days of the search.

In these 90 days, an executive search company typically understands what skills and expertise they are looking for in candidates, how hiring a specific candidate will help the client company bloom and what exactly are the company’s demands. If these bullet points are not clear in the mind of recruiters then the interviewing and search process can take more than the time frame allotted.


Executive Search Firms often look at various factors when considering the right candidate for a job opening by the client company. If your company needs to hire an executive search firm to hire employees, you should make sure to give them clear direction as to what the motivations and demands are behind hiring a candidate.

If you are someone who is looking for new job openings, you should always keep a network with executive search firms so that they recommend you and bring you in when they find a job suiting your profile and vice versa. It is important to note that you should be the one to proactively put yourself out, rather than waiting for these search firms to take notice of you.


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