Five things you should expect from your executive search firm

Not all executive search firms have the network, the industry knowledge or the experience to find and attract outstanding executive talent to your organisation. How does your executive search partner stack up?


Enlisting the support of an executive search and recruitment firm can bring many benefits to the search for and appointment of exceptional leadership talent. There is a lot to be gained from this approach, regardless of whether you:

  • Are an executive candidate looking for a new opportunity;
  • Lead a firm with limited access to diverse executive talent; or
  • Require complementary executive search support services to work alongside your own internal recruitment teams and processes.

To help you achieve your goals, Michael McAnearney, Director and Co-Founder of Gerard Daniels, outlines five things to look for and expect from your chosen executive search firm.

1. Deep sector knowledge, experience and connections

“In executive search you will find some recruiters with 10+ years of service, the right experience, industry networks and contacts,” Michael explains. “You will also come across consultants who are new to executive search or may have come from the sector itself, thinking they have the right experience and networks to be successful and make good appointments.”

“The primary factor that differentiates our ability to service many large and successful clients is the deep and genuine knowledge we have of the sectors that we support,” says Michael. “In my view sector knowledge is critical and you’re either deeply into the sector, or you’re not.”

2. Experienced consultants leading your engagement

The years of experience and gravitas that some executive search consultants have can help them to harness their own diverse networks and sector knowledge. Michael believes that this is exactly the kind of experience that clients want and need in their corner.

“If you’re a client working alongside a team of executive search and recruitment professionals you want to know that the most senior and experienced consultant is going to be leading and fully engaged in your search,” says Michael. “Knowing that you have this level of experience overseeing your search will make a big difference to the trust you place in the process, and the outcomes you are able to achieve.”

3. Critical thinking

Another important attribute of any quality executive search and recruitment firm is the ability to think critically and provide reliable market perspective on the roles you are looking to fill, and the candidates you are looking to appoint.

“In considering the skills and processes that support executive search what many clients are really looking for is access to quality, trustworthy and independent advice,” says Michael.

“When you are working with the senior leaders of an executive search firm you expect that their wisdom, intuitive judgement and all of their years of experience will be made available to you,” Michael continues. “Ultimately you expect your executive search and consulting team to contribute to how you think about the role, how it fits within your organisation, and the suitability of any candidates based on their independent judgement of that role.”

4. Due diligence

Critical thinking and judgement alone aren’t enough to ensure the appointment of the right executive talent to your organisation. The perspective and judgement that executive search and recruitment teams bring must also be backed by thorough due diligence and deep reference checking.

“Firms that are in the business of executive recruitment must have deep industry networks and long term knowledge of people in the sector,” says Michael. “This informed understanding of executives and the performance history of the companies offers significant value to the clients that we support.”

Performing talent pool assessments to hone in on the really exceptional talent is another important part of the due diligence process. “Identifying outstanding people, and bringing to bear the rigour and the due diligence to be able to identify this talent capable of making a material difference is another area where considerable value comes through,” he says.

“Due diligence is also about having the understanding of the needs of the candidate through the offer process,” Michael continues. “At this final stage we support candidates through the family and personal matters that can help them to take a fully informed decision to join your organisation.”

5. Enabling informed decisions

According to Michael ‘impartiality’ is a great way to describe the value that some executive search and recruitment firms can bring to the appointment of senior executive talent.

“It’s hard to say that we are entirely impartial because we do act in the best interests of our clients at all times, but our candidates value knowing that we are aware of and focused on their best interests too,” Michael explains. “It’s reassuring knowing that we do bring judgement that allows candidates to make informed decisions on any new roles.”

“For clients and candidates considering whether to engage an executive search firm there is significant benefit to the intensity and focus that comes with highly successful appointments being our raison d'être,” Michael concludes. “This brings with it a drive and motivation to get it done, and to get it done right.”

Reach out to Michael to discuss your executive search or board consulting needs. Or connect with your local Gerard Daniels team today.

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