10 Reasons Why You Should Hire an Executive Recruiter

"Executive Recruiter" circled in yellow highlighter on a newspaper

Nearly every organization will hire an executive recruiter at some point to help fill a role. There are many reasons why hiring an executive recruiter is helpful, which we will discuss in great detail throughout this article.

But before we do that, it’s important to understand the difference between an agency executive recruiter and a corporate executive recruiter. Agency executive recruiters, or headhunters, are typically employees of executive search firms. These are independent recruiting and staffing experts, or firms, whom an organization can retain to assist with an internal job search. Corporate executive recruiters are members of the hiring company’s HR team. Many large companies choose to employ individuals who specialize in the recruitment of executive-level positions.

For the sake of this article, we will primarily be speaking about agency executive recruiters and headhunters.

How Does Executive Recruiting Work?

In executive recruiting, recruiters find, qualify, and select candidates for a company’s management-level positions. They do this by tapping into their professional networks, obtaining referrals, attending events, sourcing candidates online, and engaging in other outbound recruiting activities to find talented executives. 

An executive recruiting team works closely with company leadership to understand the position requirements, the company culture, the organizational goals, and the preferred qualities in an ideal candidate. They leverage all of this information to find a strong fit. They then screen and interview candidates and develop a shortlist of the strongest contenders, providing a detailed report to company leaders for final selection.

In addition to identifying and vetting candidates, executive recruiters use their extensive expertise to aid in contract and salary negotiations and facilitate successful executive onboarding. 

Executive recruiters typically work on a retainer or contingency basis. In a retained search, the recruiting firm is paid an upfront fee, known as a retainer, for their services. In a contingency arrangement, a recruiter is paid upon successful placement of a candidate in a role. We talk more about each type of recruitment services in this episode of the Hire Calling podcast. 

Benefits of Working With an Executive Recruiter

While there are dozens of reasons to hire an executive recruiter, we have selected the seven most compelling ones.

1. Save you countless hours

Finding the best talent to join your organization can take significant time and effort. It’s not uncommon at all for a single job posting to receive more than 200 applicants. That means 200 resumes must be individually reviewed and evaluated to determine who qualifies for an initial phone screening.

Executive recruiters and headhunters are trained to do just this. They are experts in the art of screening talent and can accomplish more work in less time due to their in-depth knowledge and experience. Think of it this way… if your deck needs a new paint job, you can either do it yourself or hire a painter. Sure, the painter will cost you money (which we will discuss later), but in almost every circumstance, the painter will do a better job in fewer hours since this is what they do every day to make a living.

The belief that executive recruiters can save you time is rarely argued. But is the time you are saving worth the cost? We’re glad you asked.

2. Reduce turnover costs

There will undoubtedly be associated costs when retaining an executive search firm to help fill a role. Executive recruiters and headhunters typically charge 25-30% of the expected salary for the hired individual. That means if you are looking for a new VP of Business Development who will receive a total compensation of $100,000 per year, an executive recruiter will likely send you a bill for $25,000 – $30,000.

Yikes! Those numbers alone seem like a significant chunk of change. But what if we told you that hiring a high-quality executive recruiter could drastically reduce your employee turnover costs?

According to the Harvard Business Review, over 80% of employee turnover can be attributed to poor hiring choices. Additionally, the US Department of Labor states that the price of a bad hire is 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings at a minimum. The idea is that by retaining an executive recruiter who is trained in the art of hiring, you will receive a properly vetted, more qualified, and better-fitting employee than searching on your own.

Thus saving you money in the long run, despite the costs of hiring an executive recruiter.

3. Provide increased confidentiality

Some executive job searches are highly confidential. Maybe a key individual at your organization will be leaving soon, or maybe your organization is creating a new business unit that is on the hush-hush. The last thing you’d want is for your competition to catch wind of any organizational changes. Whatever the case, executive recruiters can provide you with an extra layer of confidentiality.

By hiring an executive search firm, you can avoid sharing specifics with internal HR members. Only an executive search firm can confidentially speak with candidates (some of whom may be currently employed at a competitor) without divulging your company’s identity to every potential candidate they speak with.

4. Existing networks

As we mentioned above, executive search firms are typically better at finding talent than corporate recruiters. The simplest explanation for this is that executive search firms were built to find and retain talent.

Google, Apple, UPS, Wells Fargo, and almost every other organization were not created to recruit talent. Because of that, their resources are dispersed elsewhere. Whether it is developing new search algorithms, creating new high-tech watches, optimizing delivery routes, or creating new lending programs, these companies focus on other areas than just recruiting.

Executive search firms spend all of their time and money on finding, retaining, and attracting the best talent on the market. That’s quite literally their sole purpose. As a result, executive recruiters and headhunters are often very well-connected. Many executive search firms have massive databases of talented individuals through which they can search.

Additionally, if they don’t have someone in their immediate network, you can be sure that they have the means to find the candidate you are looking for.

Related: How to Navigate the Executive Recruitment Process

5. Greater range of expertise

Depending on the size of your organization, you may or may not have a large HR team of internal recruiters to help with all your hiring needs. Whether large or small, having internal staff with expertise in hiring for every position is not always practical.

As you begin to hire more niche or complex positions, you may notice that your internal recruiters are missing the mark. At this point, it becomes particularly important to consider help from an executive search firm. Using underqualified team members could result in a poor hire, which removes recruiting resources that would be better deployed elsewhere.

There are many executive recruiters and headhunters who specialize in niche roles. A simple Google search for “(Job Title) executive recruiters” should provide some great options.

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6. Identify niche capabilities 

Executive recruiters are experts in assessing candidates beyond what’s on their resume or LinkedIn profile. In addition to experience and skills, they can effectively evaluate cultural fit, leadership potential, value alignment, and more. 

Suppose you want to accomplish a strategic objective, like turning around your company’s negative reputation or targeting a new sales demographic. In that case, it takes a certain type of leader to make it happen. Executive recruiters can map candidates’ qualifications to their likelihood of achieving your goals, which will help you make the best hire and achieve stronger performance. 

7. Access services that add value

Executive recruiters do more than just recruiting tasks. They can provide deep insights into market trends, salary expectations, and competitor analysis to help you assemble the most attractive benefits package. When making an offer, they can apply their extensive experience to negotiate a mutually agreeable contract. 

Recruiters also have access to and experience with cutting-edge technology that can put your organization ahead of the pack regarding talent acquisition. For example, an executive recruiter can apply the latest artificial intelligence advancements to refine your selection process and predict which candidates will most likely succeed. 

8. They can be excellent partners

Executive recruiters can play a key role in your future hire by understanding your organization’s needs, objectively reviewing candidates based on those criteria, and shortlisting the best of the best. If you take the time to work with your executive recruiter, ask questions, and share information – you may discover that they can provide some excellent insights.

Additionally, if you are ever working on a difficult-to-fill role, your executive recruiter may have handled this before. They likely will be able to offer advice as to who/what you should be looking for, key skills that would be helpful, and interviewing strategies to determine the best fit. Having worked in similar roles for different companies, their insight may prove extremely valuable to your organization.

9. Go beyond posting jobs online

Most executive recruiters do more than post jobs online and then interview candidates. The best executive recruiters and headhunters understand that half of the talent market is happily employed and not actively searching for jobs on job boards. Therefore, posting a job online would be fairly useless.

We also referenced the internal databases of some executive search firms. But what happens when these databases yield no results? That’s when your recruiter needs to start getting creative. Executive recruiters are pros at getting creative with how they find talent. An executive recruiter will be well-versed in approaching the “hidden market” of currently employed professionals. They have experience approaching qualified and happily employed individuals delicately, casting the widest net, and bringing the best talent to your organization.

10. Avoid executive hiring mistakes

Hiring mistakes are never good, but they can be especially damaging when they happen in an executive role. 

For starters, executive hiring errors come with a disproportionately high cost. When you consider the cost of hiring as being tied to salary, executives are more expensive to bring onboard–and, as a result, more costly to lose, not to mention the time wasted in your search. 

Next, there’s the public perception. Executive hirings and firings often make headlines, and if a key member of your leadership team departs soon after they’ve arrived, it can make negative waves in the media. This could be detrimental to sales, stock prices, and public confidence. 

Executive hiring mistakes can also be incredibly damaging to staff morale. A good amount of effort is usually spent hyping up a C-suite hire and having to turn around and fire that person will inevitably cause trust in company leadership to waver. 

The bottom line is that it pays to invest in making accurate hires at the managerial level, and an executive recruiter can give you the best shot at that. 

Wrapping Up

We hope that this article has given you at least a few reasons to consider hiring an executive recruiter. While not all executive search firms are created equally, some great search firms and headhunters are available with proven success in almost every profession, location, and niche.

Take us for example.

At 4 Corner Resources, we have top-notch executive recruiters and headhunters with specialties in call center and customer service, finance and accounting, information technology, legal, marketing and creative, and non-clinical healthcare jobs. We’d love to learn more about your unique staffing needs; contact us today!

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn