40% of executive searches fail; clients to blame for most of them

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Are you surprised? The research from ESIX says that 40% of executive searches fail and that the clients are to blame for 70% of these failures. What is your own experience with contingent recruiters and executive search consulting firms?

I have helped organisations to fill managerial and top executive positions in Thailand for the past 14 years. I see a clear pattern when clients are successful in their hiring, and likewise I notice when companies struggle to recruit. Some examples of what works for the successful client companies:

  • The smart client provides the search consultant with a comprehensive and detailed position description that includes what challenges are waiting for the successful candidate and a convincing employee value proposition.
  • The smart client and recruiter have agreed to a timetable, have agreed how often email or personal updates take place. There is a clear set of deliveries agreed to.

The smart client reviews the shortlisted candidates immediately and gets them in for the first round of interviews within that first week.

The smart client has arranged all two or three rounds of shortlisted candidate interviews on the very same day, back-to-back.

The smart client has set up an internal meeting with the people who will be interviewing, who asks what questions and what scoring matrix to use.

  • The smart client knows perception is reality so has informed the receptionist to be at her best, to ensure the meeting rooms are cleaned, chairs put back in place, and the whiteboard is wiped clean.
  • The smart client moves quickly and will be decisive. The smart client knows very well that candidates are a perishable commodity these days. Leave them for long and good candidates will lose interest or perhaps have already taken another job somewhere else.
  • The smart client does not try to throw a low-ball to deceive the preferred candidate, but appreciates that anyone moving to a new job, expects something better than the current compensation.

The smart client starts the on-boarding the same day the employment agreement is signed – even this may be months before the successful candidate turns up the first working day.

Background: ESIX, Executive Search Information Exchange, has studied and surveyed corporate executive search practices over the last two decades. Based on ESIX’s survey data the client company is to blame for 70 percent of these failures.

In other words, searches fail when executive search activity is not being properly and actively managed by the hiring organization.

Without good management, even executive searches that succeed with a placement can take an average of six months. Continue reading full report.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.