executive search partnership

Choosing your Executive Search Partner

How to choose your Executive Search Partner - Irish boutique or global firm?

As companies continue to compete to hire the best talent in the market, choosing the right executive recruiting strategy is essential. McKinsey first mentioned the war for talent back in 1997 with the evolution of the internet; now, in the second half of 2020, when the world of work has unexpectedly shifted and changed immeasurably, searching for top talent remains one of the most important contributors to successful organisations – financially, culturally and when it comes to building a respected employer brand.

Recruiting top talent can make the difference in achieving that unicorn status, acquiring, being acquired or achieving  the number one spot in whichever rankings denote success in a particular industry sector. As Steve Jobs once said: “recruiting senior staff is the most important decision a company makes.”. This is why finding a trusted search partner is so important to organisations who are looking to attract  best-in-class talent. 

Many organisations have established in-house recruitment departments, however when hiring at the top and ensuring the in-depth expertise that’s required, 80-90% of Fortune 250 or FTSE 100 companies pay headhunters to find their CEOs* . This expertise includes, but is not limited to an ability to diplomatically and discreetly court top executives (who may already be sought after by competitors), significant time spend, access to global talent pools and an aptitude to screen, assess and present an exhaustive and truly reflective short-list of A-list candidates from selected industry sectors.

What are the advatanges of working with a boutique executive search firm?

Boutique executive search firms are a mainstay in the Irish market. They have operated here since the mid 1970s and have developed long-standing relationships with companies and talent both at home and overseas. They have been responsible for accessing and introducing talent to Irish and multi-national organisations, SMEs and start-ups and have played a tangible role in contributing to the successful careers of many of our industry leaders. Whilst also having the database, technology, infrastructure, market knowledge and reach, some of the distinct advantages of a boutique firm is their ability to offer a highly personalised and trusted advisory service tailored to a clients’ individual needs, deep expertise in specific industries or corporate functions with thorough and exacting methodologies, as well as the experience to build leadership teams. 

A boutique search firm will have the added key benefit of a small “off-limits list”. This is a significant advantage in comparison to larger global firms, who will be precluded from headhunting employees of a client in which they have placed a candidate, usually in the preceeding one to two years. It may seem paradoxical, but this important distinction means that a boutique firm has greater access to more candidates across industry sectors than global firms who may only be permitted to contact a proportion of them at a particular point in time. In addition, and importantly for SMEs and start-ups, boutique firms are in a position to be flexible on fees, resulting in cost-efficient outcomes.

The relatively recent arrival of a number of global search organisations in Ireland has changed the landscape and options for Irish organisations hiring at a senior level. These firms have over 60 years’ of experience on a global level with hundreds of offices worldwide and significant international databases at their disposal. They have teams of consultants, researchers and support staff to search and select from thousands of candidates. Their reach and manpower are impressive when carrying out CEO or board assignments on behalf of global clients, whose requirements are many and multi-faceted given the continuously changing nature of our business ecosystem. They also provide leadership assessment and board effectiveneess audits as well as other valuable ancillary people strategy services.

Every organisation is different and will have distinct and separate executive search requirements. Recruiting top talent is a real competitive differentiator, which makes choosing the right executive search strategy a vital step in the recruitment process. 

* The Economist, 2020