Finding top talent for a company is one of the most challenging tasks. Unfortunately, 74% of companies admit to hiring the wrong candidates after a rigorous recruiting process.

This is the problem executive hiring firms try to solve. They will research top-level executives with relevant educational backgrounds and professional experience related to the company they’re hiring for.

They will then reach out to the candidates, conduct an interview, and present successful candidates to their clients. 

For example, this announcement is about an executive hiring firm’s recruitment of a bank CFO which is always the goal of hiring a firm. That is to source the right talent for the right company at the right time.

So if you are wondering how executive hiring firms work, here’s what you need to know.

First, Why Do Companies Work With Executive Hiring Firms?

Many companies that use an executive firm to hire a candidate do not have adequate HR resources; other companies have a strong HR department but choose to leave the finding and hiring to an outside firm. Afterall, hiring is a time-consuming and labor-demanding task that most companies would rather leave to the pros.

The right executive hiring firm has a substantial professional network of potential candidates, knows how to evaluate skills, and can even poach employees from competitors.

Most importantly, executing firms have access to passive candidates. These professionals are not looking for new opportunities, but their skill level resonates with a company’s needs. 

The Executive Search Process

The executive search process is not like staffing, where candidates present their resumes to a staffing agency and wait to be called for an interview.

Executive firms work by targeting candidates directly from their huge professional network. They won’t even post the job vacancy on the executive job boards. They won’t care if you are happy with your current company or are looking for a new opportunity. 

The search can be done in two ways.

  • Retained Searching

This is where a company hires a recruiting firm for around 90-120 days to do an intensive talent search. The company pays the firm regardless of the search result.

Retained searching is mainly popular when the company searches to fill higher-level positions paying $75,000 and above. 

Retained searching is the most tedious search process and only best for an experienced recruiting firm with a reasonable placement rate.

  • Contingency Searching

Recruitment firms that use this method to help companies searching for mid-level executives. And they are only paid after a successful talent search. These are positions that will pay the candidate less than $75,000.

Since the agency is looking for junior-level executives, they tend to work fast because they compete with other recruitment firms. 

This may be a disadvantage for the hiring companies. They get many resumes and might have to interview the candidates again before they decide.

But it’s an advantage to the candidates. They get more exposure when their resumes are spread across many companies.


If you are a company thinking of doing your talent search, settle on the best performing firms. They already have an extensive network of professionals and will save you thousands of recruiting expenses.