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How long does an executive search take?

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

If you’re considering using an executive search consultancy firm, it’s important to know exactly what to expect from start to finish, and how long it will take.

The time it takes to complete an executive search can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the role, the level of seniority of the position, the industry, and the availability of qualified candidates. Generally speaking, the executive search process can take 3-6 months, but can be longer.

But, here at SPS International, our premium 4-week search solution has an extremely high success rate, and is a quick and efficient alternative.

The executive search firm should work with you in order to establish a realistic timeline that will be both effective and efficient in identifying and attracting top executive talent.

We’ve laid out the full timeline you can expect below.

Executive Search Process - Timeline

Executive search is a specialised recruitment process used to identify and recruit top-level executives for an organisation. This process is typically conducted by executive search firms, also known as headhunting firms, which specialise in taking a measured, proactive approach to supporting businesses with finding top tier talent.

Here are the general steps in an executive search process which make up the timeline you can expect:

Initial Consultation (2-4 weeks): Once you've decided it’s the right time to use a search firm, they’ll meet with you as the client organisation to gain a thorough understanding of your culture, values, mission, and the requirements of the position. This involves discussing the key responsibilities and qualifications for the position, as well as understanding the desired experience and skills of the ideal candidate. This is also a great opportunity for the client organisation to get a better understanding of how the process will work and whether their executive search consultant is a good fit for them.

Research (2-4 weeks): Once the job requirements have been established, the search firm will conduct extensive research to identify potential candidates. This may involve reviewing internal databases, networking with industry contacts, and leveraging their own knowledge of the industry you’re in, along with years of acquired expertise to identify potential candidates that will be a good fit.

Candidate Screening (4-6 weeks): From here, the search firm will screen potential candidates to ensure they meet the requirements established by the client. This can include reaching out to potential candidates, carefully reviewing their experience, qualifications and even conducting an initial interview to ensure they’re appropriate on a cultural level too.

Presentation of Candidates (2-4 weeks): Only when your executive search consultant is happy that they have some candidates who would be suitable for you and your role, will they present a shortlist of candidates to you. This will come with detailed profiles and recommendations based on their research and screening. In this part of the timeline, it’s up to you to review the candidates and select those you’d like to take to interview.

Interviewing and Selection (4-6 weeks): From here, it’s up to you to conduct interviews with the selected candidates and make a final decision on who to hire. You may want to call on your search consultant’s expertise here to provide guidance and support throughout this process.

Follow-up: The search firm will follow up with the client and candidate after the hiring decision has been made to ensure a smooth transition and satisfactory outcome for both parties.

Overall, executive search is a highly specialised and intensive process that requires significant expertise and experience. By partnering with an executive search firm, organisations can access a broad network of potential candidates and ensure they are selecting the best possible executive for their organisation.

Why should you use an executive search agency?

If you’re considering using an executive search agency over a normal recruiter or traditional advertising methods, it’s important to know the process involved, but also the benefits of using one.

And, if you’re looking to hire an executive level, there are some significant benefits you should be aware of:

  • Access to a broader pool of talent: Executive search agencies have extensive networks, resources and techniques that allow them to identify and reach out to candidates who may not be actively seeking new positions. This means your business can access a much broader pool of qualified candidates than you would through traditional methods of advertising for these types of senior positions.

  • Specialised expertise: Executive search agencies have specialised expertise in identifying, evaluating and connecting with executive talent. Any good firm should also have deep knowledge of industry trends, market conditions, and the skills and experience required for senior-level roles. This expertise can help your business in hiring top talent that is a strong fit for your specific needs.

  • Saves time and resources: The process of identifying and recruiting top-level executives can be time-consuming and resource-intensive for your teams. By partnering with an executive search consultancy agency, you can offload much of the work involved in the recruitment process, including sourcing candidates, screening resumes, conducting initial interviews, and performing background checks. This allows you to focus on your core operations and strategic priorities, while being reassured there is a clear process and timeline in place to find your next executive hire.

  • Reduced risk of a bad hire: Hiring a senior-level executive is a significant investment for any business, and the cost of a bad hire can be substantial. Executive search agencies can help mitigate this risk by thoroughly screening candidates, conducting background checks, actively seeking out the best candidates and providing objective evaluations of their qualifications and fit for the role. This can help businesses make informed hiring decisions and reduce the likelihood of a bad hire.

In conclusion, an executive search agency can provide significant value to businesses looking to hire top-level executives. With access to a broader pool of talent, specialised expertise, and the ability to save time and resources, you can find the best talent for your business to help you achieve your strategic goals.

The team at SPS International are experts are doing just this. If you’re interested in finding the best possible candidate for your executive vacancy, get in touch today to find out how we can make it happen.


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