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What does an Executive Search Consultant do?

By Florence J. Tipton
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Generally, an executive search consultant is responsible for recruiting candidates for high-level and C-Suite level positions. The responsibilities of an executive search consultant may include managing the recruitment process that is normally handled by an employee within the organization. An executive search consultant may specialize in a specific industry or work for clients in various industries. Executive search consultants may also coach prospective candidates on having a successful interview.

The types of positions that are often recruited by an executive search consultant usually differ from the positions handled by recruiters at standard employment agencies. Where a regular recruiter may look for candidates to fill low- or mid-level job openings, the executive consultant only targets senior level positions. These may fall into what is generally known as C-Suite positions such as a chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO) or a chief financial officer (CFO). Positions for engineers, directors and comptrollers might also fit into a high-level job category.

Some executive search consultants work in a specific industry such as financial services or marketing. Others may work with a firm that recruits for a broad spectrum of industries. In some cases, the executive search consultant may work solely for an organization, recruiting for all senior level positions within the organization.

The executive search consultant will typically perform the duties of the recruitment process for an organization. This may involve advertising the position in publications that are frequented by potential candidates. Colleagues in the recruitment industry may also be a source for providing and receiving candidate referrals.

Typically, the executive search consultant will conduct a prescreen interview with potential candidates. Most executive recruiters may also be responsible for completing background checks on candidates. Information about the candidate’s credit, criminal, and employment references are verified before presenting the candidate to the client.

Interviews are usually scheduled with a client based on the client’s selection of several candidates that the recruiter presents. It is not uncommon for the recruiter to coach the candidate before the interview. Once the client decides which candidate is the best fit, the executive search consultant may negotiate the job offer and related benefits between the client and candidate.

A general practice is to maintain a database of potential candidates to scout when a position becomes available. Conversely, many executive recruiters have a list of clients from developing a business relationship over time. The goal of this approach is to ensure the organization utilizes her services when a position becomes available.

An executive recruiter’s salary is usually tied to securing a candidate for the senior level position. She might receive a retainer fee to work exclusively for the client. An alternative is to be paid after a candidate accepts a job offer.

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