Retained executive search consulting, a respected arm of management consulting, is an important professional service provided to the top management of organizations. It is employed by a wide range of industrial, commercial, professional, governmental and non-profit organizations to find talented senior executives who will make a strategic difference to their operations.
The impact of a key executive hire on an organization's fortunes can be immense. Equally the cost of unsuccessful recruitment can be severe. Stock values both plummet and soar on the basis of significant executive changes at top level. So an investment in a professional approach to senior executive recruiting makes very good sense and is increasingly employed in organizations around the world.
The process of retained executive search involves methodical analysis, planning and research in order to develop target lists of candidates who represent the best executive talent worldwide for a particular position.
A hiring organization usually retains an executive search firm only for its most mission-critical senior positions. The annual base salary offered often exceeds $250,000 or the equivalent in non-US currency. The hiring authority will be a senior manager of the company or division, or, for the most senior positions, such as chief executive officer, the board of directors or a search committee.
There is a lot at stake in a retained executive search – for the hiring organization, the search firm and the candidate. The success of a search depends on a successful relationship among these parties; the search consultant choreographs key aspects of this relationship. However, the client – the hiring organization – always makes the hiring decision.
An executive search firm runs on information. That includes information about specific industries, companies and their strategies and cultures; and executives and their strengths, weaknesses, backgrounds and compensation. Search firms employ various sources of information – among the most important of these are contacts in the industries and disciplines in which the search firm operates. Thus, all search professional spend a good deal of time networking among valuable sources of information.
In this context, retained executive search consultants must operate with the highest levels of integrity and confidentiality, and with sensitivity to the needs of all parties.