Filling the C-Suite: Top Strategies for Executive Recruiting | Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      Filling the C-Suite: Top Strategies for Executive Recruiting

      American companies face a looming challenge when it comes to filling executive positions

      According to the career site, 75 million baby boomers are expected to retire in the coming years. Given that many of these seasoned employees occupied C-level positions, hiring managers will need to consider their executive recruiting strategies for the years ahead. 

      This guide will introduce you to some of the current best practices when it comes to filling these roles, helping you pass the leadership torch to highly qualified, talented professionals of the next generation.

      The Unique Challenge of Executive Recruiting

      Filling the C-suite can be uniquely challenging, given how much influence these senior-level positions have over the company as a whole. It’s vital that your organization bring on an individual who understands the company culture, vision, and values as well as the industry in which it operates.

      Naturally, executive recruiting can create some pressure among hiring managers and other personnel. A thorough vetting process is necessary, but is it best to rely on your own hiring practices or turn the search over to an executive search firm? These options are explored in more detail below.

      Option 1: Rely on Your Existing Recruiting Team

      Small to midsize businesses (<500 employees) typically need to fill these roles only a few times per year, if that. For these companies, it might make sense to rely on existing hiring teams to locate ideal candidates.

      The obvious advantage is that by relying on existing processes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The flip side is that due to the intensive nature of these positions, your existing recruiting team may lack the time or resources necessary to thoroughly vet executive-level candidates.

      Still, this can be an economic option for small or midsize companies. They can find success by employing the following strategies.

      Train Your Team

      If your current recruiting team lacks experience in hiring executives, the easiest solution is to provide additional training.

      Training might be as simple as finding a virtual course or webinar for your team to attend or seeking out mentors from other companies who can guide your team through the process.

      Designate a Team Leader

      Teams will thrive best when they have a point person who spearheads the process. Team leaders can delegate tasks to the rest of the team, and they can also become the primary point of contact once your team starts making contact with interested candidates.

      Involve Other Company Leaders

      Even if you have an existing recruitment team, it helps to solicit input from other organizational leaders. While they may not serve as team members, the CEO or other department heads can help you craft a candidate profile and assess what skills and abilities are necessary for the individual to thrive.

      Option 2: Create an In-House Executive Recruitment Team

      If your business is relatively large (500+ employees), it’s likely that you’ll need to fill C-suite positions with relative frequency. Therefore, the cost alone might prompt you to consider handling your own executive recruiting efforts.

      But cost isn’t the only factor to consider when performing in-house recruitment. While outsourced recruitment firms work hard to understand your company culture, no one understands the company like those inside it. An in-house recruitment team might therefore be better equipped to discern the candidate who best aligns with the company culture.

      The following represent some of the best practices for operating an in-house executive search team.

      Plan Your Team

      You don’t need a huge recruitment team to get started, but you’ll need a few members to start crafting a hiring process. This includes writing a candidate profile as well as deciding on which other team members could make valuable contributions to the hiring team.

      Create a Pipeline

      In-house recruiters might consider developing a leadership pipeline to help identify future leaders. This might be a pipeline that recruits from within, or the team could strategize ways to increase the external candidate pool. 

      A pipeline will also help you determine the steps and benchmarks in the executive recruiting process so you can monitor your progress and report to other senior leaders.

      Consider Passive Recruiting

      Good executives are hard to find, and they may already be employed at other companies. Passive recruiting can help you create a candidate pool and engage these candidates when you begin your active search.

      Option 3: Outsource to an Executive Search Firm

      Executive search firms can be costly, but they can be an ideal option for mid- to large-sized organizations that have special hiring considerations. For instance, the role may be a niche position in the organization, or your company simply seeks to keep the search confidential.

      Additionally, search firms tend to have broader professional networks, which means that your company can benefit from their resources and identify candidates you might not otherwise have considered.

      If you choose to partner with an executive firm, here are some tips to ensure better results.

      Choose the Right Firm

      Not all search firms are created equal. Some firms may have experience selecting candidates within your industry, while others work with companies your size. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to rely on a local firm or are comfortable holding remote meetings.

      Start a Search Committee

      Outsourcing the process and having your own search committee are not mutually exclusive. A search committee can work with the firm, providing them with a candidate profile and serving as a point of contact throughout the recruiting process.

      Clearly Communicate Your Needs

      Be extremely specific about the kind of candidate you’re looking for. Otherwise, you run the risk of finding the wrong person. The firm can work with you to identify key skills, but it’s best that the search committee come up with an ideal candidate profile to help the firm understand exactly what you’re looking for.

      Choosing the Right Strategy

      There’s ultimately no “right” way to go about the executive recruiting process. With these guidelines and options in mind, your company will have to select the strategy that fits your unique culture and gives you the best possible candidate to help shape that culture.

      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 executive recruitment 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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