Executive recruitment is both a science and an art. The process can be challenging, time consuming and emotionally charged, but enormously rewarding and profitable once a successful outcome is realized. Research shows that companies who do it well enjoy 3.5 times the revenue growth and 2.1 times the profit margin of their competitors.

The right preparation and a well-planned strategy will significantly increase your odds of a strong executive hire. Use these three steps to achieve clarity and confidence based on the best industry practices.


The bases of your research as you source the best executive candidates is the development of robust job profiles and descriptions. Have a clear, in-depth understanding of your organization’s needs and paint a picture of the leader who will meet them.

  • Your job profile is more than just a list of responsibilities. It also encompasses a description of specific competencies and expectations. In order to develop the best profile, interview your current executives, as well as those who report to them. In addition, carefully study company strategies and goals.
  • Break your job description down into specific areas of accountability. For example, include “leadership” and “strategic and operational management.” Highlight in detail the role elements that relate to each in subsequent bullet points.

Screening & Reference Checks

Once you know exactly what kind of candidate you’re seeking, the next step in your executive recruitment process is successful screening.

  • The process is step by step. It generally includes a call back from the candidate, receipt of a resume or online employment profile, and in most cases a telephone screen and face-to-face assessment. Many companies utilize behavioral and competency testing at this stage.
  • Reference checks are more important than ever in today’s social media age. Remember, anyone can present online whatever persona they choose. So you need to dig deeply. In addition to checking candidate-supplied references, check with additional contacts who have worked with, supervised or reported to them.
  • Go the extra mile. Check out any speaking engagements or panel positions a candidate has held, along with community and other boards they’ve served. What were their track records? What kind of reputation did they establish?


Negotiating a compensation package is only the beginning. The final hurdle in landing the executive candidate of your choice is persuading them to make a move from a position where they’re currently comfortable into an uncharted new professional landscape. You can best accomplish this by understanding their individual issues, motivators and vision. In other words, find out what makes them tick. Connect the dots between their passions and how they can fulfill them by filling a leadership role at your company.

  • Yes, it’s business. But at this point it becomes personal. Discuss the pending change in position in the context of the candidate’s entire career and how it will help them achieve their ultimate lifestyle goals.
  • Reiterate core beliefs and be sure they align. A cultural fit and value match should be ongoing themes throughout your hiring process. Solidify them as you progress through negotiations. Senior hires absolutely must share their beliefs with management and the hiring team.

At the executive level, the right search firm is critical to your hiring success. The specialized consultants at BrainWorks can provide invaluable knowledge, resources, connections and market intelligence. We know your field, we understand your business and we can save you precious time. To learn more, read our related posts or contact us today.

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