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  • Does your company have an executive-level position to fill? 
  • Are you short on time and resources to find candidates? 
  • Would you like the most talented individuals to join your leadership teams? 

If these three questions sound all too familiar, then executive search could be the answer you’re looking for. Executive search firms have the strategy development, resources, and expertise to give your business the best chance of attracting the right candidate the first time around. In this guide, we’ll explore what executive search is and when it is the right approach for your company. Let’s jump in.

What is executive search?

Executive search is a specialised type of recruitment that aims to identify, attract and recruit skilled professionals of a high calibre. Typically, this term describes the hiring of difficult to source talent for the most senior roles within specialist areas - usually talented individuals that possess a rare set of skills. Generally, executive search seeks out candidates who can provide an immediate and long term impact on a business once hired.


Why is executive search important?

Today’s employers recognise how successful hires at a senior level can help their business grow, boost profits, streamline operations, and lead success. However, when searching for highly desirable senior hires, many organisations experience obstacles in finding the ideal candidate. To overcome these challenges, organisations turn to the help of executive search firms, especially when the role they’re hiring for requires the investment to get it right.

The importance of executive search should not be underestimated as it works to help optimise the chances of attracting and hiring talented professionals. By using an executive search firm – such as Carrot Executive - companies partner with executive search specialists to increase their chances of finding individuals with specialist skills to take the business forward.

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How does executive search work?

To find, attract and hire qualified candidates, executive search firms take on a rigorous approach to recruiting. So what does the executive search process look like? We’ve outlined our approach to executive search to demonstrate how the process works.

Our search process consists of nine different steps to make certain we find the right candidate for the role. 

Step 1: Taking a brief from the client

During the briefing, a consultant from the executive search team will sit down with the client to obtain an in-depth understanding of the role the client is hiring for. This includes information about the client’s requirements, their ideal candidate, and information about the company. They’ll discuss any off-limits agreements, any candidates they’ve already interviewed, if applicable, and any potential sticking points.

Step 2: Devising a strategy

Using information from the brief, we will design a thorough search strategy that includes target companies, geographical search areas, essential experience and qualifications, and preferred experience/qualifications. We’ll develop a list of potential companies to target that most likely yield a successful candidate. 

Step 3: Presenting the strategy to the client

Once the search strategy has been created, our search consultant will present the client with a detailed proposal that breaks down strategy, timelines and fees.

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Step 4: Search strategy and talent mapping

With the proposal accepted by the client, we implement the search strategy to source suitable targets. Our team produces a talent mapping report that allows the client to better understand their target talent pool, specifically the levels of supply and demand for particular types of talent, information on who they work for, what they do and where they’re located.

Additionally, our talent mapping projects establish a basis for the longlist. Following feedback from the client, we select the most suitable candidates to approach. This can be done in phases, prioritising one set of potential candidates before moving onto a second priority batch, for example. 

Step 5: Approaching candidates

During this stage of the executive search process, a member of the executive search team approaches candidates with the agreed messaging and Candidate Attraction Pack. Each candidate is screened in line with a carefully designed discussion schedule.

Step 6: Profile submission

Having been approached and screened, the strongest candidates will be presented in the shortlist with their CV and a thorough report that provides details of the discussion between the candidate and a member of our executive search team.

Step 7: Interviewing candidates

The client decides which candidates from the shortlist should proceed to the interview stage. Interviews can be multi-stage. At Carrot Executive, we support our clients with scheduling interviews and by procuring candidate feedback at all stages of the process.

Step 8: Offering candidates the job

With interviews completed, the chosen candidate is offered the role. During this stage of the executive search process, Carrot Executive will act as a mediator between the hiring company and the candidate to ensure both parties' needs are met and that expectations from both sides are aligned early to ensure a smooth transition into the new role.

Step 9: Hiring the candidate

After the candidate accepts the offer, the consultant will keep in touch with them regularly throughout their notice period and during the initial months of their new role, to reduce the chance of dropout

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When is executive search the right approach?

The competition to hire talented senior professionals is fierce, so knowing when to turn to an executive search firm can make all the difference. Here are some signs that indicate executive search would be the right approach for your business.

You have a specialist role to fill

One of the most recognised reasons for approaching an executive search firm is when your company has a senior-level position to fill and you want to hire highly qualified candidates only.

You want to hire candidates aligned with your brief

You want access to candidates that specifically fit your brief and whose values align with those of your company to ensure they suit your teams.

Your hire requires discretion

Every once in a while, you may find that you need to keep quiet about a new hire. Perhaps you’re looking to replace one of your current employees, or you have a new job opening that isn’t public knowledge. Whatever your reason may be, an executive search firm can guarantee complete discretion throughout the entire hiring process. 

You’re not sure who you are looking for

If you're experiencing growth, it might be time to expand your team, or create a new specialist position. However, companies who still conduct their own recruitment processes often find themselves largely trying to figure out what they’re looking for, or what their job ads should say. With the expertise of an executive search firm, employers can draw on extensive research and analysis to better understand what talent exists in the market, and discover highly-skilled candidates that match up to their open role.

You want to ensure a consistent and professional approach

To hire talented professionals and flush out candidates with specific skill sets, you need a consistent and professional approach to hiring. Executive search firms have the expertise to work collaboratively with your organisation to meet your expectations. This can include ensuring the search firm goes to the market with the right messaging or positions your brand above its competitors.

  • Learn more. We’ve written a blog to help you spot the telltale when your organisation needs the help of an executive search agency. Click here.


Executive search with Carrot Executive

If you’re looking to expand your senior teams, we can help. Our executive search solutions work to attract and retain the very best talent in your market. We work closely to support and advise your organisation on taking the most strategic approach to hiring qualified professionals. 

Our experienced consultants specialise in finding talented professionals and introduce them to your organisation. This supports the growth and evolution of successful teams. We take the time to understand your objectives and goals, enabling us to act as an extension of your brand and work collaboratively and transparently throughout the recruitment process.

If you’d like to talk to us about any of our services and how we can help you, please get in touch today.


Carrot Executive

Carrot Executive work in partnership with a large number of Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences companies and consultancies, supporting with a range of executive search and bespoke insights projects to support clients in their strategic decision making in relation to talent attraction and retention, market penetration and competitor benchmarking.

For more information, please contact Martin Anderson via, call +44 (0)1625 541 032 or use the 'schedule a call' link below:

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