How to select a recruitment firm for an executive?

In this article: links to comparisons of recruitment agencies, the keys to know how to optimize the recruitment of a manager, which points to demand from the agencies, see what are the alternatives to the recruitment agency, and how to manage this type of crisis situation in business: the need to recruit a Director

How to choose the most suitable recruitment firm for an executive?

When you are looking to recruit an executive, you are potentially under stress, anxious, in a hurry. You want to find your right-hand man quickly, but above all you don’t want to make a mistake!

Indeed, executive positions are critical: you announce his arrival in the company, you must feel in total confidence with him, you must be certain of his skills. Moreover, if it is a failure, it is very expensive in terms of time, money and company performance. The cost of entry is high.


Before choosing a recruitment agency, specify your recruitment criteria:

This step is often forgotten because you are in a hurry, or you don’t have time: but it is in fact essential.

Ask yourself what your priorities are in your recruitment. Among the following elements, knowing that you can’t have everything

Time criterion: by when at the latest?

Technical criteria

Human criteria

Administrative’ criteria

Comparisons of recruitment agencies

Here are some lists of recruitment agencies:

  • Les Echos ranking (30/11/2020): The best recruitment firms for managers and specialists

    See the ranking

  • Article les Echos (30/11/2020) : Palmarès 2021 – ” Top 250 recruitment firms: these players will soon have no secrets for you! »

    See the article

  • Comparatif des Echos (16 pages) (25/11/2019) : Palmarès 2020 des 260 meilleurs cabinets de recrutement :

    See the comparison

  • Ranking by category of Recruitment Firms – Ranking 2020 – Consulting Firms – France (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – Corse) :

    See the ranking

What are the points of attention for the choice of a recruitment agency

Using a firm that specializes “in your field” can be an effective solution if you have a good consultant working on your case. As the firm hunts for profiles that are more specifically focused on this activity, it will have a better understanding of your challenges and the culture of your company.

Sometimes it is also better to use a small firm, which may not have a reputation or speciality, but which will have the same search relevance and will be more motivated, with more time to search for your rare pearl. It all depends on the partner (or consultant) who is working with you.

In all cases, the elements to be taken into account :

What should you expect from a specialist recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies will often tell you about exclusivity, that it’s better for all sorts of reasons… you don’t have to at all! The key is to find the best resource for your business. Why go without several headhunters, and then let the best one win!

The points of attention when you are in contact with the firm are the following:

What is the current market for recruitment agencies?

The market is difficult for recruitment agencies because it is increasingly tense: qualified high-level profiles are sought after, but there are few of them, and companies are now almost “candidates”. The market has turned around.

With a recruitment firm, between the date of the call from the recruitment firm and the arrival of the executive, it can take 6-8 months, asrecruitment firms try to build relationships with the executive profiles (who are already on permanent contracts), so they have a notice period.

Executives, on the other hand, increasingly prefer flexibility, immediacy, high remuneration, and they want to choose their mission in the company.

Thus, they are increasingly turning to interim management, which meets these needs, and which often suits companies very well. Recruitment firms are trying to develop “interim management” branches, but this is not their initial speciality.

Is it essential to choose a local recruitment agency?

It is a plus to use a local recruitment agency, as sometimes executives submit their CVs spontaneously. By contacting them rather than the big nationals, you will capture more local management profiles and ‘confidential’ profiles.

But the best is to have a panel with the 2 types of firms: a national firm + a local one.

What are the alternatives to recruitment agencies?

Interim management: an alternative or a complement to the recruitment of a director

Interim management is a very good alternative when you are looking to to recruit an executive quickly.

The Interim Manager has the following characteristics:

The use of an interim manager can also be relevant simply while waiting to be recruited on a permanent basis.

Let's check together if your problem requires a transitional mission

Your network: the best of the recruitment agencies!

Searching your network is also very effective:

Is it worth waiting for the right profile?

Of course, we have to find the right balance:

You won’t find the person who meets 100% of your requirements (or after a long time of searching you will find that person who has 100% of your requirements: then you will quickly realize that in fact he/she didn’t have the 100%. Human is a very subjective notion and recruitment is not a sure thing)

You should not wait too long because you lose money: if you are in lack of a resource it costs you, if you want to strengthen you could boost your turnover by having recruited a Manager, and you lose time (and therefore money).

Isn’t it better to take a Manager who corresponds to 70-80% of your criteria, and to have this profile quickly, to let him/her rise in competence on the missing 20-30%, and that he/she works for the development of the company?

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