Finding Another Joe – How Top Executive Search Firms Let You Sleep Better


Night after night you lie awake wondering how you are ever going to replace Joe. I know what it’s like. Joe was a “difference-maker.” He was on top of all the latest industry news and could tell you the status of each piece of legislation that might affect your industry. His mere presence seemed to instill calm and confidence in subordinates. Joe could handle a crisis and never sweat. Then Joe turned in his notice and you began to sweat bullets! There will never be another Joe. Yet, you have to find one—and fast.

I’ve been in the executive recruiting business for 30+ years. At my firm, we know a lot about how to find you another Joe! Here are some facts to consider about why you should use a top executive search firm. But let me interject a caveat here. Not all executive recruiters are the same. There are both good guys and bad guys out there. Here are a few points all top executive search firms will have in common.

Speed, Convenience, and Confidentiality

Confidential executive search

Using top executive recruiters should be fast and easy. There is no need to post ads on job boards or in industry publications. Top executive search firms will place targeted ads if needed, and also handle the calls and initial screening. Executive recruiters know just where to look and have unique resources at their fingertips.

Top executive search firms assure confidentiality. We understand that sometimes you don’t want to publicize your company name. It could affect stock prices, retention, and company morale. Skilled executive recruiters can solve this conflict. We understand privacy concerns.

The best executive and specialty search firms have connections with both active and passive candidates. In many cases, executive recruiters can get you a handful of highly qualified candidates within a few days. Specialized or hard-to-fill positions will generally require longer. We can’t promise a certain timeframe, but we use our industry contacts and resources, which makes using us faster than posting your own ads.

Vetted Candidates

Executive recruiter vets the candidates

You don’t want to screen and interview 50 candidates to get to the one who is gold. That’s what vetting is all about. Leading executive recruiters will generally filter candidates and narrow them down to only a few top prospects.

In any search, it’s the quality of the candidates that matters most. Top executive search firms are able to do a more exhaustive background check. Executive recruiters will also check references and even check “unnamed” references. They contact people who have worked with the candidate and know his reputation. So if you want to know how the candidate reacts at work and under pressure, a good executive search firm should be able to discern this for you.

This gives you more insight into the candidate and enables you to choose someone who reflects your core company values and beliefs.

Specialty Search Firms with Industry Connections

Construction worker has industry connections

If you are looking to fill an executive position, then find a top executive search firm who routinely concentrates on executives. You can’t expect your in-house human resource department to be able to properly evaluate potential C-level executives or board members. The recruiting and vetting process for these positions is very different.

There is also a distinct advantage in using specialty search firms. Specialty search firms will have specific industry knowledge and more connections. It will save you a lot of time if you work with a recruiter who is familiar with what you do, recognizes your needs, and has a good connection to industry talent. In most cases using specialty recruiting firms will mean you get better candidates for your positions.

Specialty search firms concentrate in many areas, like construction, logistics, education, banking, supply chain, and IT. In a top specialty search firm, you will receive service directly from an experienced recruiter who has intimate industry knowledge. This results in more efficient and more effective recruiting. Using specialty search firms generally means faster results and higher quality candidates.

Finding the best C-level executives isn’t as easy as just checking a database. It’s usually done through industry connections and advanced networking techniques. Top executive search firms will use various channels and resources to locate a perfect fit for your company.


Blue guarantee ribbon

Many executive search firms simply recruit for the position and their work ends there. Top executive recruiters will be confident enough in their skill to offer you some sort of guarantee. If the search firm is confident in the quality of its recruitment process and in the candidates they recommend, then they can easily offer you a guarantee. If an executive search firm isn’t willing to do this, then look elsewhere!

At my firm, we stand behind our work. If one of our new hires leaves the job for any reason within three months, or should the new employee be let go for misconduct, we will find another candidate to hire at no cost. Look for this promise, because only the very best executive search firms will make it!

Another consideration is a firm’s ethics. Some recruiting firms have no qualms about having their recruiters re-contact a candidate he placed at your firm. You want to look for a recruiter who will not recruit a former client who is still with your company. Never, no matter how long ago the candidate was hired, should this ever happen. It’s unethical. You don’t want to associate with an executive search firm who does not enforce policies against this practice.

Assistance with Onboarding

Best recruiter agencies help with onboarding

There are several stages in the hiring process. A good executive recruiter will be able to assist you at any point in the process. Top executive search firms will go the extra mile. From pre-offer to offer, then from post-offer and beyond, they will help you mitigate any problems encountered.

Starting a new job is one of life’s most stressful events. Executive recruiters see this every day. That’s why the best executive search firms will help with the onboarding process. They have selected high-quality candidates and want to see them succeed. Top executive recruiters will be happy to pass along tips to make the onboarding process more successful.

Fees Associated with Executive Search Firms

Man calculating recruiter agency fees

Yes, executive recruiting firms do charge a fee for their service. You will generally see a one-time fee of anywhere from 25 to 33% of the candidate’s annual salary. Look for top executive recruiting firms that will absorb recruitment costs into their quoted fee.

Some top executive recruiters bill separately for calls, postage, and other administrative costs. You’d be surprised how fast these costs can add up. I’ve seen it add tens of thousands of dollars to the standard fee. You should be aware of this if you enter into a “fee plus costs” contract.

While you are thinking about costs, let me just share my philosophy with you. The cost of a bad hire is infinitely more than any fee we would ever charge. I look at our fee as an “investment” rather than an expense. Companies around the world use professional search firms for this very reason.

Core Values

Trust and integrity make the best recruiters

Core values such as trust, integrity, and service make a winning formula. The best executive recruiters touch the lives of clients and their families. It’s personal. Make sure you hire only top executive search firms whom you can trust. Look for executive recruiters with integrity. Find one who will respect the process and do the right thing. Every time. I think of recruitment as one of the helping professions. Our work is an opportunity for service and should be done honestly and with compassion.

Top executive recruiting firms are able to provide you top talent and do it faster than you would be able to using only your company resources. They help companies fill key executive positions discreetly. Specialty search firms are a valuable ally to your in-house human resource department, and can help extend their reach on certain hard-to-fill specialty positions. Because of their industry connections, a specialty search firm is often your most economical option. Remember, there are costs associated with unfilled positions, too!

When searching for the best executive search firms, consider the value they add. Look at how long the company has been in business. Ask about their success rate. Do an experimental call to discover if your account representative is readily available and if she returns calls promptly. Employees are your firm’s biggest expense and greatest asset. Be sure to shop around and find a firm you can trust!

It will take a top executive search firm to find you another Joe. And he’ll be great—you can count on it! Get some sleep tonight because tomorrow you’ll be welcoming your new executive!

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Charlie Kimmel

Charlie Kimmel

President & CEO

Charlie Kimmel has dedicated his career to executive search. Charlie is an honors graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He began his career at Kimmel & Associates as a recruiter in 1990.

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