Discretion is a necessary trait in the executive search industry. Executive appointments, and indeed departures, are of significant interest to investors, customers, employees, and the press. So headhunters often have to operate behind the scenes.

In the interests of transparency, we wanted to explain how the executive search process works. We're building technology in-house to make this faster and to ensure search firms can keep their clients updated on their progress in real-time.

1. Launch meeting

Initial meeting to outline the search requirements

Discussion to determine your desired candidate profile, timelines for the search, as well as your company's strategy, mission, and culture.

2. Doing their homework

Market research and meetings with key stakeholders

Search firm analyses your company and its market, before holding meetings with your exisiting executives to define how the new executive will fit into your organisational structure and culture.

3. Creating the job profile

Info on the role, experience required, and your company

The insights from the previous two steps are used to create the job description, which will be the main reference material during the search. This includes detailed information about the role, its responsibilities, your company, key opportunities for the new executive, and the experience and educational background required.

4. Plan of action

Finalise the search strategy

Together with the search firm, you determine where and how top candidates will be sourced and how they'll be assessed

5. Building a long list

Talent mapping and sourcing

The search firm employs market mapping and sourcing techniques to build a long list of candidates (sometimes 100+ executives).

6. Creating a shortlist

Approach, qualify, and interview candidates

The search firm meets with, interviews, and assesses candidates to narrow down the list to 5-10 executives. This process also enables them to give you a report on how candidates in the market view your company.

7. Background and reference checks

Ensure each shortlisted candidate is reputable

Background checks are completed to verify each candidate's experience, online profile, and qualifications before presenting the final shortlist to you.

8. You interview the final shortlist

Assess each candidate's résumé, qualifications, strengths, and motivations

After working with you to narrow the shortlist down to 3-5 candidates, face-to-face interviews will be conducted.

9. Offer and negotiation

Find the right compensation package

After discussions around each candidate's interviews, résumé, and external references, you select your preferred candidate and the process of salary negotiations begins. The search firm will act as a mediator to ensure the needs of both sides are met.

10. Onboarding the new executive

Ensure they're up to speed quickly

The search firm assists with the integration of the new executive into your workplace - the degree of their involvement will depend on your wishes.