4 Ways to Tell You Need a New Executive Search Firm

Has your company been using an executive search firm to fill key openings? How have they been performing?

Aside from answering whether or not the firm presented candidates for openings, plenty of people aren’t sure how to really evaluate an executive search firm’s performance. A few telltale metrics include:

  • Retention rate. Are the candidates they recommended staying with your company?
  • Search completion. How many searches have they completed for you?
  • Confidence. Would you trust them to fill a high-value, confidential opening quickly and discretely?
  • Recommendation-worthy. Would you recommend them to another company?

An executive search firm should not only tick the boxes above, they should act with integrity at every turn—from billing to preparing candidates for interviews.

Unsure if your firm measures up? There are a few ways to tell if it’s time to find a new search partner.


To see if your executive search firm is a high performer, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Are they working efficiently? Some executive search firms will wait to present you with a slate of candidates until they have a number of resumes for you to choose from. While this appears impressive at a glance, consider how much time you’ve lost while they worked to gather 5 or 10 candidates. Could you have started interviewing sooner, if they had presented candidates as soon as they were identified? This is the mark of an efficient and nimble executive search firm. Instead of trying to impress you with a number of candidates at once, they keep in mind that you want to fill the position and would like to start interviewing as soon as possible.
  2. Are you being billed fairly? Some firms will bill you at a monthly rate on top of the fees you’re paying them to fill the position. Consider this: Even if they have not presented a candidate in the first month, you might still be billed for the search firm’s time. Is that fair to you? The ideal executive search firm should be willing to identify, interview, qualify and present candidates for the initial fee. 
  3. Will your executive search firm ensure that your offer will be accepted? Unless your search firm has had an opportunity to debrief their candidate completely and can be sure that that the candidate is prepared to accept the position, your search firm should not encourage you to extend an offer. Some search firms may bypass this due diligence to try quickly filling the position, but it’s not a best practice.
  4. Did your executive search firm accurately represent your company to the candidates by making them fully aware of the needs of the job? Unless your search is a confidential one, your executive search firm should have equipped the candidate with as much information as possible. They should market your business to the candidate and ensure that the candidate has all the information they need to ask targeted questions and have a productive interview. If the candidate has disparate expectations about your workplace and the available position, it may mean the recruiter hasn’t adequately or honestly informed them.


A great search firm will differentiate themselves by creating performance metrics within the contract. For example, if they commit to presenting you three qualified candidates within a 45-day period, then they’ll deliver on that commitment.

This KPI (key performance indicator) is the trademark of a truly great executive search firm who has your best interest in mind and a firm that will meet or exceed your expectations. Ready to work with an expert like this? Contact Ciresi & Morek today.

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