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Working with an executive search firm may be unfamiliar territory for your organisation, so we’ve put together a primer on how to ensure the very best results.

At its heart, executive recruitment is about building an effective, open conversation and setting clear expectations from the outset. This guide will help you to understand better how to achieve this.


Invest time in writing the perfect job description

This should be the first step in any recruitment process, not an afterthought, and although this may sound obvious, you’d be surprised at how often it’s not the case.

By drafting a description of the role which accurately outlines the responsibilities, objectives, salary, required credentials, reporting structure and any other key information, you ensure unity of purpose from the outset.

This means nipping in the bud any challenges arising from ambiguity in the early stages. Conversations - both internal and external - should turn toward finding and hiring the right candidate, rather than squabbling about the minutiae of the role.


Invest time in creating a candidate profile

From the discussions around the role, a candidate profile is created. This profile outlines the qualities, skills, experience and expertise that any candidate should demonstrate before being considered for the role

In the same way as writing the perfect job description, creating a candidate profile will provide clarity and build unity in discussions. It also gives your executive search firm a solid basis from which to work.


Build deep knowledge and understanding from the start

A firm worth their salt will arrange an onboarding meeting in which they’ll ask questions and gather information to improve their understanding of your exact requirements.

At this stage, you may well have made various attempts to conduct your own recruiting. A firm should acknowledge the work that’s been put in already and look to understand the challenges and roadblocks you’ve faced.

Alongside this, they’ll seek to understand clearly all the requirements, ideally, candidates should have for the role in question and whereabouts each one sits on the spectrum from mandatory to optional.


Set clear expectations

An executive search firm will provide information on deliverables, timeframes and other things that formalise the expectations placed on them. It’s also important that the relevant people client side acknowledge and accept the expectations placed on them

If the search firm returns a field of suitable candidates, for example, but the client’s hiring team hasn’t allocated any time to engage with them, then the process falters.

Clear expectations on both sides ensure effective communication, fewer bottlenecks and a quicker road to success.


Keep this conversation going

By this point, the executive search firm and their client should have a good rapport and a clear open channel of communication. Expectations are set on both sides and aligned between them, and there is a detailed brief to work from.

From this position, things should be able to progress smoothly. 

One critical factor which could hinder this process, however,  would be the lack of free-flowing conversation around what’s happening. Both sides need to be responsive and act quickly to questions and queries from the other.

Combined, this ongoing feedback guarantees a healthier and more efficient working relationship.


Stick to the strategic roadmap

From the initial conversations about the brief, an executive search firm will put together a strategy for finding prospective candidates.

This strategic roadmap will also contain input from the client. For example, there may be competing companies from whom talent can’t be sourced, or one of many other caveats or criteria. This could include things like - 

  • Specific industry qualifications or experience requirements
  • Relevant academic backgrounds, potentially limited to a list of course titles
  • Specific levels of academic attainment, for example, Masters or even PhD graduates

By referring back to the agreed strategy and making sure the activity doesn’t deviate from it, cohesion between both sides can be achieved. The client can be confident that their understanding of the process is accurate, and the firm can demonstrate progress and provide updates at agreed intervals.


Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone

Sometimes, in a client-agency relationship, there can be friction between how a client feels something ought to be done and how an agency insists it is done.

When you’re working with an executive search firm, this same issue can arise. It’s not uncommon for a client’s understanding of the best practice to deviate slightly from the executive recruiters’. It falls on the latter to acknowledge this difference and articulate the solution.

Often, this is a question of explaining tools and techniques that may be unfamiliar, and how these will be leveraged to gain results. As a client, this sometimes means taking a leap of faith. A good firm will explain things clearly and make you feel part of the process.


Roll with the punches

Executive recruitment, like any type of recruitment, can entail setbacks. For one of many examples, your firm could identify the perfect candidate and the recruitment process could be proceeding well, only for them to lose interest and things to fall flat.

Getting the best results entails accepting this possibility, taking the relevant precautions and moving ahead when things go wrong. Ultimately, finding the right candidate is more important than finding a candidate quickly, so accept that even though things may take time, the results will be worth it.

Putting in place clear strategies built on open conversations early on, and keeping this channel of communication open, should pave the way for this process to happen quickly.


Executive Search with Carrot Executive

We’re established executive search experts, drawing on years of experience to offer a distinctly different approach to recruitment. We aim to offer a knowledgeable, friendly and supportive service to our clients and candidates alike.

Our competitive and unique pricing model allows each client to budget from the start, removing the possibility of any expensive surprises further down the recruitment timeline.

We also pride ourselves on our agility and can produce a proposal within 24 hours of receiving a brief. The proposal will highlight methods, timings, deliverables and fees, giving your organisation the data it needs to make an informed decision.


A few final thoughts

Working with an executive search firm may be unfamiliar ground for some organisations, but as the information in this guide demonstrates, it’s possible to retain involvement and control throughout. We believe that cultivating an open and transparent conversation is the best way to achieve recruitment success, and we’ve designed our executive search services on this basis.

To get in touch with us about your executive search needs, click here.

You can also read our Guide to Executive Search and Recruitment here, which contains lots more information about each aspect of the process.


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:

Schedule a call

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