Exec Search Secrets: How to Perfectly Streamline Your Hiring Journey

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On18th August 2023
Posted On18th August 2023

Having worked in the executive search industry for nearly 20 years, I have recruited for a countless number of hiring organisation’s and their application and onboarding processes have varied significantly. Here we give away some of our Exec Search secrets and our top tips for success.

As the hiring process is a complex process between employers and potential employees. With so many things happening in the hiring process, it’s essential to ensure that every step is streamlined for efficiency and clarity. Let’s explore how to make this journey smoother for everyone involved.

The Application Phase: Making a Good First Impression

When a potential candidate comes across your job posting or is contacted by your talent acquisition team or search partner, their first interaction with your brand begins. This phase is your golden opportunity to put your best foot forward, enticing the right candidates to engage. Here’s how to make that first impression a lasting and positive one.

Clear Job Descriptions

Your job advertisement is not just a list of tasks or qualifications – it is your company’s handshake with the potential employee. Imagine entering a room and greeting someone for the first time; that’s what your job description does.

When managing an Exec Search campaign our preference is to produce a candidate pack that fully outlines the role, the businesses strategy, the culture of the organisation and any other information that might be relevant for a particular campaign or to build an emotional connection with prospective applicants.

Detail Matters

Every job role has its nuances, and while you don’t want an overly lengthy description, you shouldn’t be too vague either. A clear understanding of what’s expected, where this role can have an impact and an understanding of relevant spans of control, can paint a vivid picture of the day-to-day role.


Being open about job prerequisites from the start saves time on both ends. If a role requires certain certifications or a specific number of years in a particular domain, make it known. This ensures only qualified candidates move forward, reducing the screening burden.

Intuitive Design

Ensure your application platform’s layout is intuitive. Candidates shouldn’t have to play detective to find where they need to click next. Clearly labeled buttons, a progress bar indicating how much of the application is left, and concise instructions can guide candidates smoothly.

Mobile Optimisation

A significant portion of job seekers uses mobile devices to explore opportunities. If your application platform isn’t optimized for mobile, you might be inadvertently turning away potential talent. Ensure the mobile experience is as seamless as the desktop one.

Multi-format Submissions

Everyone has their preferred way of showcasing their achievements. Some prefer traditional CVs, while others might want to link to online portfolios or LinkedIn profiles. Offering flexibility in submission formats ensures you don’t miss out on talent due to platform restrictions.

Save and Resume

Life happens. Sometimes an applicant might get interrupted mid-way. Having a ‘save and resume later’ option ensures they don’t have to start from scratch, making the process less daunting.

Immediate Acknowledgment

Senior peole are busy, when managing an Executive ssearch campaign it is paramount that once a candidate submits their application, a simple acknowledgment, like an automated email, can go a long way. It assures the candidate that their application has been received and sets the tone for future interactions.

Specificity is Key in Exec Search

Instead of merely stating that you want a “qualified” individual, what does “qualified” mean for this particular role? If it’s a managerial position, perhaps you’re looking for someone with a certain amount of team leadership experience or someone who can demonstrate having built a team previously or restructured an organisation.

For a technical role, maybe familiarity with a specific software is a must or maybe not? Sometimes you can think someone might need technical expertise but maybe you are precluding better candidates by asking for system experience when it could be learnt or maybe there are more technical team members that manage the detail.

Flexibility Matters

While the criteria act as a guide, it’s essential to be flexible. Some candidates might not tick every box but bring other valuable assets to the table. For instance, a candidate might lack a specific certification but has hands-on experience that can prove to be invaluable.

The Human Touch

While these tools are invaluable in handling the volume, it’s essential to recognize that a resume is a nuanced document. It narrates a person’s professional journey, their challenges, growth, and achievements. Some of these intricacies might get lost if we rely solely on automated tools.

Look Beyond Keywords

A candidate might not have used the exact keyword you’re searching for, but they might still possess the desired skill or experience. For instance, instead of the term “project management,” a candidate might mention they “oversaw a team to deliver a project.” The essence remains the same, even if the wording differs.

Story over Structure

Some candidates might have unconventional resume structures, or they might come from diverse backgrounds where the traditional resume format differs. Instead of discarding these at first glance, take a moment to understand the story they’re telling.

For a senior appointment you might expect that the prospective appointee will be totally at ease, however, both parties will come with hopes in interview, expectations, and a dash of nerves. The interview for any Exec Search campaign needs to be thorough.

Although it’s the company’s opportunity to get to know the candidate, it is worth bearing in mind that this is a 2 way process, and given the current challenges for sourcing talent. In my mind it is worth building in an informal meeting stage early on in th hiring process to build a relationship and to engage with any prospective candidates. This stage can be decisive, making or breaking the deal for both sides…

Structured Interviews

Just as a builder wouldn’t construct a house without a blueprint, interviewers should approach this process with a clear plan. Enter structured interviews, the blueprint of effective hiring.

Leveling the Playing Field: When every candidate is posed the same questions, it ensures consistency and fairness. It negates the possibility of biases creeping in based on a candidate’s background, appearance, or other unrelated factors.

Reliability: Research has shown that structured interviews have a better track record of predicting job performance. This is because they focus on competencies and skills directly related to the role at hand.

Comparability: As all candidates answer the same questions, it becomes easier for the hiring team to compare and contrast their responses. This ensures that decisions are made based on merit and fit rather than random factors.

Multi-tiered Approach

Think of the interview process as a funnel. At the top, you have a wide array of candidates, and as you progress through the stages, you narrow down to those who align best with the company’s needs.

Preliminary Screening: Initiating the process with a phone or video interview can be a time-saver. It provides an opportunity to assess basic qualifications, communication skills, and motivation. This ensures that only genuinely potential candidates progress further.

Layered Depth: Subsequent rounds can then delve deeper into technical prowess, cultural fit, and problem-solving abilities. This step-wise progression ensures a comprehensive evaluation without overwhelming either side.

Feedback at Every Stage: After every round, it’s considerate to provide feedback to the candidate. Even if they don’t progress further, constructive feedback can be invaluable for their professional journey.

Transparent Communication

Transparency is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationship, and the employer-candidate relationship is no different in any exec search hiring proces.

Set Clear Expectations: At the start of the interview, let candidates know the structure of the process, how many rounds they might expect, and the anticipated timeline.

Honesty is the Best Policy: If a candidate is no longer in the running, it’s more respectful to let them know rather than leaving them in the dark. This not only brings closure for the candidate but also upholds the company’s reputation.

The Offer: Sealing the Deal

The culmination of the entire hiring process rests on the offer phase. It’s the grand gesture, the moment of truth. How it’s presented can be the deciding factor for many candidates.

Quick Turnaround

In Exec Search, time is of the essence. Once you’ve zeroed in on your ideal candidate, it’s essential to act swiftly.

The longer a candidate waits for an offer, the more time they have to second-guess their decision, or worse, be wooed away by another opportunity. Swift actions not only increase acceptance rates but also show candidates that you value and prioritize them.

An offer letter is not the place for vague statements. Salary details, job responsibilities, start dates, work hours, benefits, and other essential details should be clearly spelled out. This not only sets clear expectations but also fosters trust from the get-go.

Onboarding Process

The real journey begins after the offer is accepted. Onboarding is akin to rolling out the red carpet for the new hire, ensuring they transition smoothly into their new role and environment.

Afte an Exec Search campaign completes and before a new hire steps into the office, providing them with resources can drastically reduce their first-day impact. By sending over company handbooks, access to necessary software, or even a welcome video message from the team, new hires can get a sense of belonging even before day one. It’s the equivalent of reading up on a destination before embarking on a journey.

Structured First Week

The initial days of a new job can be difficult. A structured first week can make this easier to manage. Meet, Greet, Repeat: Introduce the new hire to their colleagues, not just as a formality but to foster genuine connections. Follow this with training sessions that equip them with the skills and knowledge they’ll need in their role.

Mentorship Programs

Walking into a new workspace can feel like being the new kid at school. Having a designated mentor or buddy is like having a trusted schoolyard friend showing you the ropes.

A mentor can be the go-to person for any queries or concerns, ensuring that the new hire never feels lost or isolated. Moreover, the onboarding process is always evolving. Setting up channels for new hires to provide feedback ensures this evolution is in the right direction.

Finally, by encouraging new employees to share their onboarding experiences, you’re not only refining the process for future hires but also emphasizing that their opinions matter. It’s a simple yet effective way to cultivate a culture of openness and continuous improvement.


At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

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