Executive Search - Frequently Asked Questions

It's natural to have questions (many questions!) as you explore how best to recruit for critical executive positions, or as a candidate, how to find your next senior role. You’ve come to the right place - Monroe Consulting Group has over 20 years of experience specialising in executive search services.

If you have additional questions not answered here, please contact us to discuss how we can help.

Table of Contents:​

  1. What is executive search?
  2. What are the differences between executive search and headhunting
  3. What are retained search services?
  4. What is the executive search process?
  5. What are the advantages of executive search?
  6. How to select an executive search firm?
  7. What makes a good executive search consultant?
  8. What are the best practices for executive search? ​

​Executive search is a specialised recruitment service that recruits highly qualified candidates at executive and senior levels across a variety of sectors. An executive search provider also seeks out highly skilled roles, typically for those that are very competitive in the job market. Acting as an extension to the company’s HR/Recruiting function, providing a holistic hiring solution.​

2. What are the differences between executive search and headhunting

Executive search and headhunting are both the same types of professional recruitment service providers that help companies find the right candidates for a high-level position. Similarly, they are paid by the hiring company, not by the candidate. Both types of firms typically specialize in recruiting for a particular industry or function and use a similar process to identify candidates. Executive Search and headhunting recruiters also work in work on a contingent basis, meaning they only get paid if they successfully place a candidate in a position.

The difference between contingency and retained search is in the pricing model and the service level agreement. In a retained search the recruiter is paid an upfront or scheduled fee and works on an exclusive basis, meaning they, and only they, will be working on the search. In contrast, contingency recruitment works on what would be best described as a ‘no win, no fee basis or success fees’. Multiple recruiters may be invited to look for the right talent. If one finds and places a candidate, they get paid. If they don’t, they don’t.

4. What is the executive search process?

An executive search process may vary depending on what role you’re looking to fill. A typical executive search process timeline keeps your recruiting efforts on track and on schedule. It outlines the major milestones you need to hit when searching for someone to fill a senior leadership position and approximately how long each step should take. Here is an outline of what an executive search process looks like:

  • Establish search requirements

  • Determine search strategy

  • Attract and evaluate candidates

  • Present most qualified candidates for client interviews

  • Complete the search

5. What are the advantages of executive search?

Executive search is much more than providing candidates. It is about filling talent gaps that will in turn immensely benefit your company. It is crucial to us to not only provide a candidate that is qualified but also a candidate that will seamlessly fit into the business’ culture. Here are some of the key benefits of executive search:

  • Cost-effective

  • Decrease time to fill

  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion

  • Access to an extensive database of candidates

  • Time-efficient

  • Recruit passive candidates

  • Confidentiality

​It is vital to spend time researching the options available to you when selecting your Executive Search company. It is crucial that you choose the Executive Search company that best match your hiring needs. Below are some general guidelines that will help you to reach the right decision.

Do Your Research

Look for an executive search firm that specialises in your industry or area of work. Now, many agencies do a little bit of everything, and you need to find an executive search and recruitment firm that's an expert in your field. You can also consult your friends or colleagues in similar fields. Ask whom they've used in the past, and for some recommendations. A reputable Executive Search company whether it's in Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia will generally source at least a third of its new clients/candidates via word of mouth from satisfied customers, so this is one of the quickest and most effective ways of finding an excellent executive search company.


Check the Websites

Next, visit the websites of the executive search firms you've shortlisted. Doing this will give you an idea of their pedigree (when were they established? what is the history of the company?) and the jobs advertised on their site. Look at the size of the company and find out if they have an international presence.


Talk to the Executive Search Consultant

Once you have a shortlist of possible executive search companies, start calling them. Recruitment is sometimes akin to a relationship, and will most probably have its highs and lows. However, it's vital that you can relate to your recruiter and trust in their ability to get the job done. Don't be afraid to ask industry-related questions or to ask them to give you an overview of the types of companies they work with. A good recruitment company will encourage an open exchange of information to ensure they are placing the right people with the right companies.


Select the Geographic Presence

Ensure the Executive Search company you select has a local presence, as working with a company in the Philippines for positions in Manila, for example, will often bring much better results than trying to work with a recruiter based out of Singapore.


Be Selective

Remember, there's very little point in sending out your CV to everyone or giving a recruitment assignment to many different executive search companies. If you've done your research, the agency you choose will invariably be the one that is right for you.


7. What makes a good executive search consultant?

A successful executive recruiter requires a mix of good education and the right mastery of skills. Here are some of the most important skills that an executive recruiter must have.


A good executive search recruiter requires mastery of the basics of selling. They will need to sell the recruitment services to clients who are conscious of budgetary constraints. Additionally, they will need to “sell” jobs to potential candidates who are wary of leaving their current employer.


Executive recruiters often multi-task on various assignments while also ensuring that each project receives due attention. Resilience and determination will help them survive the demands of the job and perform consistently.


During the search process, the executive recruiter is the mediator between the company and the candidate. They must provide effective communication and relationship building skills to balance the interests of both parties.


The executive search process can be time-consuming, especially when the candidate is an in-demand individual with offers from other companies. You may spend weeks or months convincing them to switch employers, therefore patience is a necessary skill for executive recruiters.


Good verbal and written communication skills is an essential for an executive recruiter. They maintain correspondence with both clients and candidates to to ensure all parties are informed about the process. Cold calling is a common occurrence among executive recruiters and requires you to have an exceptional communication skills.


You need excellent observation skills to succeed in your executive search career. Observation allows you to spot opportunities that are invisible to company bosses and understand market realities. Your observational skills may also be helpful when trying to save a candidate-employer agreement.

8. What are the best practices for executive search?

​Executive recruiting is a highly targeted process involving top-notch talent that your company needs for its leadership. Because there are so few qualified candidates, the recruiting process is markedly different from recruiting for other positions When working with an executive search provider here are the best practices to look out for:

Be Candidate-Centred

For executive candidates, your company reputation may be just one of several opportunities they might be considering for their next career move. It is important that your company make a good impression to ensure that you are attractive the top talent. An executive search provider will work with you to help sell your company image to prospective candidate. However it’s also important that you put the effort in enhancing your employer branding to look as professional, personable, and accommodating to potential candidates.

Supercharging Your Executive Search Process

An executive recruitment agency will help streamlining your hiring process, especially when you are working to fill more than 10 candidates for a project. Tracking each candidate contact so the whole hiring team stays on the same page and making sure that your team stay on track with the timeline to ensure a successful delivery.

Show Continued Interest in the Executive Candidate

Keeping in frequent touch with candidates as the interview process unfolds is a good way to remind them of your interest. Executive search recruiter will be the mediator and point of contact between you and your candidate, they will always ensure an effective communication from start to finish. Including giving constructive feedback that will help them with their professional development going forward. Giving feedback is rare enough that it will also help your company stand out from the competition, improving your reputation and employer brand.

Be proactive, not reactive

If you want to find the best possible candidate during your executive search efforts, you probably will not discover them on the job market. More often than not, your top talent candidates are currently working for your competitor. Executive search recruiter knows how to tap into these passive talent pool and provide an exceptional sales pitch—one that conveys the strength of your employer brand to potential candidates. ​​​

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