If your hiring team has been interviewing C-suite candidates and simply not seeing the level of talent it needs, it might be time to hire an executive search firm.
Doing so will enable your organization to tap into a vast network of high-quality leaders who aren’t even actively looking to make a career move—until, of course, they become aware of your company’s open role and realize that it’s just right for them.
In this article, we’ll compare and discuss in great detail seven top executive search firms to help you decide which is the best fit for your company. In addition, we’ll explore the many reasons why partnering with an executive search firm is advantageous and what factors to consider when selecting one.
Armed with this knowledge, your company will be 100% prepared to achieve its hiring goals in 2024.
Why Work With An Executive Search Company?
Maybe you’re not sold (yet) on the idea of working with one of the executive search services you’ve seen advertised. While completely understandable, there are in fact many benefits that come from partnering with an executive recruitment firm versus going it alone. Let’s talk about some of them below.
Their Huge Pool of Top-Tier Talent
Right off the bat, most reputable executive search firms possess an established and extensive network of diverse candidates. Not only that, but these candidates are typically fully vetted and highly qualified. Consider this in comparison to the kinds of applicants you might currently be encountering—those who are lacking the right experience, qualities, and/or skills—as your team recruits by itself.
Their Ability to Balance Speed and Quality
If you’ve ever worked with any staffing or recruitment agencies whose employees were driven by commissions, you’ll understand why it’s key that executive recruiters are incentivized in a more well-rounded manner. When there’s a proper incentive structure in place, they aren’t blinded by greed and will instead develop a long-term hiring vision for your company, filling those roles with highly skilled and loyal professionals who will want to stick around for the long haul.
Their Industry Expertise and Hiring Know-How
Face it. While your HR team is amazing and likely holds their own, they have other responsibilities outside of hiring. Top executive search firms, on the other hand, specialize solely in talent acquisition. They bring to the table deep industry knowledge, recruiting best practices, high-level executive recruitment strategies, sophisticated hiring procedures, and data-driven decision-making.
Their Real-Time Analytics and Reporting
Speaking of data, the best executive search firms on the market also have the upper hand when it comes to analytics and reporting. They track and measure their entire search process, supporting it with KPIs and other metrics. These firms know how to leverage the insights derived from data to keep you informed, find you better candidates, hire them faster, and retain them longer.
Their Use of Advanced Hiring Technology
Last but not least, a top-notch executive search company will utilize advancements in hiring technology to improve your experience and results. A great example of this is MSH’s AI-powered hiring platform, Aeon. Exclusively available to MSH clients, Aeon saves them significant time, drives data-based hiring decisions, and simplifies the entire hiring process from start to finish.
How To Decide Who To Work With
Now that you can see why it’s so advantageous to work with an executive search firm, let’s discuss how to go about selecting one that will get you results.
After all, there are so many different options—from small recruitment boutiques to large agencies with literally thousands of employees. Moreover, some are laser-focused on a specific field while others place executives in a wide variety of industries. How can you ensure that you pick the best one for your company?
Here are some factors to consider:
They Have a Proven Track Record of Recruiting Executives
There are plenty of staffing agencies out there that place entry- to mid-level workers. Your company, on the other hand, requires a trusted advisor who specializes in recruiting C-suite executives. Look for an executive search firm that is known for its successful placements of top-tier candidates in leadership roles.
They are Obsessed with the Candidate Experience
Remember, any executive search team you decide to work with is a reflection of your firm. If they mess up—by not following up or not conveying your brand properly, for example—the candidate will most likely view your company negatively. They might even badmouth your firm to other professionals. Steer clear of this by choosing an executive search firm that prioritizes the candidate’s experience.
They Have a Solid Brand Reputation and Stellar References
Finally, look for an executive search firm that is well-known in the space for all the right reasons: it’s responsive, experienced, technologically advanced, trustworthy, and knowledgeable. Not only that, it’s imperative that the firm’s executive search recruitment process actually works. Fortunately, this is something you can verify by talking to past clients. Although not all feedback can be expected to be positive, the vast majority of it should be.
Common Services That Top Providers Will Offer
Any executive search firm worth its salt will provide the services listed below:
Talent Acquisition Process Design and Management
It’s not just about quickly filling a role. The right executive search company will develop and oversee a comprehensive hiring strategy for your firm. Its team will ultimately ask all the right questions of all the right people to ensure all your company’s hiring goals (C-suite and otherwise) are met.
Employer Branding and Value Proposition Identification
A top-notch recruitment firm in the executive search space will also spend time understanding your branding and value propositions so it can represent your organization properly and effectively. Look for a firm that prioritizes this.
First-rate executive search firms will take steps to identify and obtain valuable data and job market trends to inform their hiring decisions and recommendations. Moreover, they’ll deeply examine your competition, industry, and current/future talent needs to serve you appropriately.
Diversity and inclusion is undoubtedly important to your company. Expect the executive search company you choose to collaborate closely with your team to develop a hiring strategy that is DEI-focused. Even more, its recruiters should know just how to implement these strategies to consistently deliver you a diverse group of top-tier candidates.
You shouldn’t have to worry about selecting or overseeing hiring-related vendors, negotiating their contracts, or ensuring the delivery of their services—those responsibilities should fall on your executive search provider’s shoulders. Not only that, but the firm should keep close tabs on any hiring costs as well.
This might seem obvious, but the firm you work with should manage all the logistics that accompany hiring (so you don’t have to!) This can include sourcing and recruiting applicants, screening and interviewing candidates, developing and negotiating job offers, and even onboarding new hires. Remember, the more hiring tasks your executive search partner handles for you, the more time you and your team will have to focus on other things.
New Hire Onboarding
You might not realize that some executive search companies go above and beyond by handling all the details that come with new hire onboarding. Yes! Not only is this one less task on your team’s plate, but it also increases the odds that your new executives will stick around for a long time feeling satisfied and valued.
Analytics and Insights
Last but definitely not least, a high-quality executive search firm will keep your company in the loop with regular reporting that’s data-driven and insightful. Don’t accept less than this because the right provider will offer it—in some cases, like MSH, this information is bolstered by advanced technology like AI and ML.
The 7 Best Executive Search Firms in 2024
The time has come to reveal our seven top executive search firm picks for 2024. Depending on your company’s specific circumstances and industry, certain options might resonate more with you than others. This is to be expected—after all, finding the ideal fit is critical to the hiring health of your organization. So carry forth and do what’s best for you and your team!
Here are our top picks:
- Korn Ferry
- Robert Half
- Spencer Stuart
- Heidrick & Struggles
- Egon Zehnder
- Russell Reynolds Associates
You might notice that we’ve placed ourselves right at the top of the list. That’s because we wholeheartedly stand by our efforts and feel confident that we (as in, you and us) will one day make great partners. Keep reading to find out why!
Where oh where should we begin?? Perhaps by pointing out that MSH is a global leader in scaling teams and recruiting top executive talent. Having worked with the likes of American Express, Blackstone, ADT, Conde Nast, the NBA, and UnitedHealth Group, MSH has earned a stellar reputation in the field by consistently sourcing only the best candidates for its clients’ C-suites.
MSH deep dives into the hiring needs and unique cultures of its clients to match candidates who will truly go the distance. Our hiring strategists know how to quickly build sustainable teams—often providing clients with fully vetted, top-tier candidates in under 72 hours. Plus, we can’t forget to mention our revolutionary AI-powered platform, Aeon, which will literally take your company’s recruitment strategy to the next stratospheric level.
Services Offered: Executive Search, Direct Hire, RPO, Packaged Talent, Talent Acquisition Process Design and Management, Talent Intelligence, Employer Branding and Value Proposition Identification, DEI Guidance, Vendor Management, New Hire Onboarding, Analytics and Reporting, Staff Augmentation, AI-Powered Aeon Hiring Platform, Digital Commerce Transformation, Software Testing, Business Intelligence Consulting, Cloud Transformation, Technology Consulting
2. Korn Ferry
Korn Ferry is a well-known organizational consulting firm that operates worldwide. It works with its clients to design and implement organizational structures, roles, and responsibilities. Additionally, it helps the companies it partners with fill openings and reward/motivate their existing employees.
Services Offered: Organization Strategy, Assessment & Succession, Talent Acquisition,
Leadership & Professional Development, DEI Guidance, ESG & Sustainability, Career Transition & Outplacement, Talent Management
3. Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert Half International Inc. (also known as Robert Half) is an accounting, legal, IT, and finance staffing firm. With over 345 locations across the world, the firm fills on-site, remote, and hybrid roles. It advertises a fast hiring process and experienced recruiters.
Services Offered: Contract Talent Staffing, Permanent Talent Staffing, Executive Search, On-Site, Remote, and Hybrid Placements
4. Spencer Stuart
Based in Chicago, IL, Spencer Stuart is an international executive search and leadership consulting organization. Founded in 1956, it operates in 33 different countries. The largest privately owned search firm in the world, Spencer Stuart specializes in placing executive teams and boards.
Services Offered: Executive Search, Board Services, CEO Succession Planning, Executive Assessment, Leadership Consulting, Digital Transformation, DEI Guidance, Restructuring, Family Businesses
5. Heidrick & Struggles
Also headquartered in Chicago, IL, Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. is a global executive search and management consulting company. The firm also offers leadership and corporate culture consulting services. Heidrick & Struggles works with clients in almost every industry and sector.
Services Offered: Executive Search, Leadership Assessment and Development, On-Demand Talent, Culture Shaping, DEI Guidance, CEO Succession Planning, Coaching, M&A Talent Planning, Interim Executives
6. Egon Zehnder
Egon Zehnder is an international organizational consulting and leadership advisory firm. Located in 36 countries, the company offers tools that enable its clients to identify and develop leaders. Additionally, it helps organizations shape successions, build and empower boards, and initiate organizational transformations.
Services Offered: CEO, Executive, and Board Successions, Board Review and Development, Executive and Board Search, Executive Assessment, Individual Development, Accelerated Onboarding, Development Planning, Coaching,
7. Russell Reynolds Associates
Executive search and leadership advisory firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, assists public, private, and non-profit organizations with building sustainable teams. From succession planning to M&A integrations, the firm provides a variety of services that support the placement and development of diverse and innovative executives.
Services Offered: Executive Search, Board Director and Chair Search, DEI and ESG Guidance, Family Businesses, Succession Planning, Mergers, Acquisition, and Integrations, Culture Advisory, Executive Mentoring, Leadership Development and Transition, Assessment and Benchmarking
Big Takeaway: Achieve Hiring Success in 2024 by Partnering with a Top Executive Search Firm
It can be tempting to keep your search for executives in-house since you know best what your company needs, right? Right; yet in actuality, the benefits of working with an executive search firm far outweigh any attempts to go it alone. Given that firms like MSH specialize in sourcing and landing top leadership talent, they can almost always do so faster, more efficiently, and with better results than a company that is busy focusing on its core money-making activities (as it should be).
Besides, we’re not talking about filling entry-level roles here. Instead, we’re talking about finding the best people possible to lead and shape your company in the future as your industry continues to change and become increasingly competitive. So, don’t wait! Talk to our team today about our executive search solutions to find out exactly how we can help your company achieve all its executive hiring goals in 2024.