When your company has an executive position that needs to be filled, you want to look for the best candidate for the job. After all, at the executive level, this person will lead departments and make major decisions that will impact the company. You want to use the most effective approach to find the right talent for your organization. In the business world, you might have come across terms like “executive search” and “recruiter”. They are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are actually some differences. So, for an executive search, what is the difference between executive search and recruitment?
Either approach usually involves your using an outside agency to help you find the right candidates. The agencies have a wide network which they can tap for leads. They do the initial review of whether the candidate has the qualifiications for the position and will do the preliminary vetting to screen for the ones with the most potential and highest likelihood to be a good fit.
An agency that specializes in executive searches focuses on individuals who have senior level experience in managing teams. Candidates are accustomed to leading large departments and overseeing their performance. They have experience with strategic planning and are usually involved with high-level meetings that discuss business direction, company vision, and make major decisions that move toward that direction. The agency might narrow the search to executives by industry so they can a pool with the best knowledge for that industry.
A recruiter, on the other hand, does not only target high-level executives. They can also work with networks of people who might be in middle-management, supervisors, or even the general employee not in a supervisory role. They might broaden their coverage to other industries even though the position is in one type of industry. So, their reach is usually broader than that of an agency who only performs executive searches.
The method in which the search is conducted can also have some differences. In an executive search, the agent might employ proactive approaches to find candidates. They might reach out to executives who are currently employed, but who continue to network in their industry to keep their options open. These candidates might not be looking for another position actively, but are willing to entertain possibilities. It is not uncommon that these executives are found in companies that are in direct competition to the company that is hiring.
A recruiter usually targets people who are actively seeking for a job. They can be unemployed currently, or they might be looking for a new position. They might have submitted their resumes to job boards and posted on business social media. Sometimes job seekers might list with multiple recruiters to broaden their base so they can interview for more than one job.
A general recruiter might be satisfied if the qualifications of the candidate fills the requirements of the position. However, an executive search will go a step further. In addition to the job qualifications, the agent might look at whether the candidate is a good fit for the culture of the company. The candidate’s work philosophy, leadership style, and other unquantifiable aspects might come into play. The agent might arrange for several meetings with other executive level personnel of the company so they can determine if the canditate is a good fit.
An executive search should be done thoughtfully and not be rushed through. Stakes are high at this level. If the wrong person is hired for the job, it can lead the company down the wrong direction. So, work with a reputable executive search firm to find the perfect candidate to fill strategic, high-level positions.