Executive Search Process | How Executive Recruiters Find the Best Executives for Your C-Suite

      Cowen Partners Executive Search Process

      Working with an executive search firm can sometimes feel like operating a black box. With each firm making bolder claims than the one before and doing so by showering their explanations with a variety of jargon and obscure acronyms, hiring managers can’t help but feel left out in the dark.

      To change that, we’ve decided to raise the curtains and give you a glimpse into our field-tested executive recruitment process—a result of hundreds of successful placements spanning the entire C-Suite and across a wide range of industries.

      Our promise is simple.

      We will find you the next superstar for your team in as little as 6-9 weeks—in an affordable package and with guaranteed success. Here’s how our top executive recruiters do it.

      1. Start with the Right Executive Search Strategy

      Every organization and career opening is unique. That is why we always go beyond the job description to uncover all the intricacies that are crucial for finding the perfect fit.

      Duration: 1-5 business days (client dependent)

      In practical terms, this means sitting down with the hiring manager and all the key team members to sketch out exactly what the ideal candidate should look like. Not only does this include figuring out the core position competencies, but also creating a blueprint of your team’s culture—something that’s as unique as the fingerprints of our species.

      Another crucial component at this stage is figuring out the ideal compensation. Our executive search consultants achieve this by conducting a competitive compensation analysis, which takes key factors like (but not exclusive to):

      • Company location
      • Industry
      • Current economic trends into consideration

      The result is a figure just high enough to show high-caliber candidates that your organization respects and values their talent.

      The culmination of all that research is a tailored search strategy that attracts qualified candidates and filters everyone else out organically.

      2. Source & Prioritize Candidates

      With all the groundwork in place, our executive recruiters kickoff a mass recruitment drive by reaching out to matching candidates directly and through our tested network of sources.

      The ultimate candidate is identified 90% of the time in the first 30 days. The rest of the search timeline is heavily dependent on the Client.

      On average, we identify somewhere between 50 to 200 qualified candidates for an executive search. The key word here is qualified, as more candidates just mean more resumes to sift through if the wrong candidate profile is being contacted.

      That is why we keep clients in the loop throughout this process. By reviewing the candidates together as they roll in, we adjust the search parameters to tighten up the filtering. This makes a world of difference when the time comes for qualifying candidates.

      3. Qualify Candidates

      With the bulk of prioritization handled, we set the stage for some rigorous assessments and evaluations. We use the 10/5/2 search method here, which is the industry gold standard for executive recruitment.

      Here is how it works. First, our recruiters narrow the results down to the top 10 candidates based on all the data we’ve gathered up until this point. A meeting is then scheduled with the key personnel of your team to cut that list in half and get it down to the top 5 candidates—the A-Team.

      These brave souls then go through one of the most rigorous due diligence processes out there. From competency-based interviews where applicable to meticulous personality assessments, we do everything imaginable to make sure the candidate will fit your team like a bespoke Super 220 merino wool suit.

      Whether the candidate is an action taker, team player, trendsetter, or a risk-taker, an alignment between who they are and what you need is crucial.

      Our experts analyze all those factors to ensure you won’t find yourself in a mismatch between the executive’s work style and your organization’s culture after months of making the hire—a mistake that typically costs somewhere north of $240,000.

      4. Selecting THE Candidate

      At this last step of the process, our team shares the results of the competency evaluation and behavioral assessment with the client to narrow things down to two finalist candidates. This is important because our brains are naturally best at picking between two options.

      Executive Recruiting Process at Cowen Partners

      Furthermore, our team has a streamlined process for:

      • Running background checks
      • Conducting in-depth referencing around the critical competencies we established in the first step

      As you’ve seen in our entire process so far, we don’t use canned approaches.

      We tailor all the reference check questions to your organization’s specific needs and concerns. The path ahead involves negotiations. With the results of the competitive compensation analysis from earlier in hand, negotiations are as simple and transparent as they can get.

      Much of the length of the search timeline is company-paced, and we work with each client to move with a sense of urgency and purpose commensurate with the importance of the role and impact on near-term business objectives

      Once an agreement is reached, our team helps with the onboarding and follows up regularly to ensure the new executive will have a successful career in your organization. This matters because hiring is only half the battle, the rest lies in retaining your highest-performing executives.

      In other words, not only will we help you snag the top leadership from your competitors, but we will also help you keep them outside the grips of competing organizations.

      Questions about our executive search process?

      Contact our executive recruiters now.

      Why Cowen Partners Is a Top Executive Recruiting Firm Across the U.S.

      Our hands-on executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000 companies or have assets over a billion.


      Successful placements span the entire C-Suite and include CEOsChief Operating OfficersChief Financial Officers, Chief Sales Officers, Chief Marketing Officer, vice presidents sales, human resources, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

      Cowen Partners delivers 3X more qualified candidates than the competition. Through our proven retained executive search process, we find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all initiatives (including diversity recruiting), as well as all industries, including (but not limited to) technologyhealthcare, hospital, manufacturingretailreal estatefinancial serviceprivate equity, and more.

      Check out our industry-leading resources to see why Cowen Partners is a leader among the best executive search firms in New York CityAnchorage, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Richmond, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and beyond:

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