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4 Steps to Help Your Executive Search Firm Help You

Throughout my career as an executive recruiter, I have worked with a wide variety of companies and hiring managers. Some have been incredible to work with and made my job much easier. Others have been quite difficult to work with and made my job much harder. In this article, you will learn four steps to help your search firm help you.

1. Share as much information as possible up-front.

The more information that you share with your search firm, the faster they will be able to help you hire an exceptional leader. Here are some of the key questions that you should answer for your search firm before they identify and contact any candidates:

  • Why is the position open? Is this a new role, or is someone being replaced?
  • Are any internal candidates being considered? If so, who? If not, why not?
  • How does this role fit into organizational structure? Who will this role report to and oversee?
  • What would this role need to achieve in the next 1-2 years to be a success?
  • What are the top 3-5 criteria that you want to see in candidates?
  • Which companies/industries would you like to target for this role? Where do you think the ideal candidate is currently working?
  • What do you have in mind for the compensation package for the role?
  • Where would you like this role to be based? How flexible are you on location?
  • Why do you believe that candidates should be interested in this role?

Candidates will inevitably ask your search firm these predictable questions. If your search firm is unable to answer these questions, they will lose credibility, which will make it harder to get and keep candidates interested in the opportunity.

2. Communicate directly and frequently throughout the search.

If the role is important enough to retain a search firm, then it’s also important enough for the hiring manager to communicate with the search firm throughout the search. The hiring manager should invest at least 15-30 minutes every week or two to speak directly with the search firm. These weekly or biweekly calls are essential for sharing feedback on each side and for changing direction if necessary.

Unfortunately, some hiring managers attend a kick-off call and then delegate most of the search to their staff or to someone in HR. The hiring manager might think such an approach will save him time. In reality, it usually leads to miscommunication and a much slower, less efficient process. It’s in everyone’s best interest for the search firm to have direct, frequent communication with the hiring manager.

3. Be efficient with your part of the interview process.

Candidates lose interest or move on to other opportunities if you leave them in the dark for too long. So, reputable search firms work hard to keep candidates engaged and to move them through their interview process quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, some companies fail to continue the momentum. Some companies take weeks or even months to schedule candidates for initial interview or follow-up interviews.

Unless a candidate is on vacation or knows that a search is on hold, you or your search firm should have some sort of contact every week with an active candidate. If your company is not ready yet to move to the next step, share that information with your search firm, and decide how one of you can keep the candidate engaged in the meantime.

4. Aim high, but be reasonable with your expectations.

A reputable search firm will help you recruit exceptional candidates that you would otherwise not identify or be able to attract. However, your search firm cannot create someone that does not exist. As you think through the selection criteria for your role, consider how many people actually meet your criteria. If you are unable to identify at least 25 people in your region (no relocation required), you should probably reduce your requirements.

You should also consider how compelling your job opportunity really is- professionally and financially. Top candidates need to be sold on why they should consider making a change. If you are unable to provide an increase in responsibility and/or a more attractive compensation package, you should adjust your expectations for who your search firm will actually be able to attract.


If you want your search firm to help you hire an exceptional leader faster, treat your search firm like a partner, not like a vendor. Follow these four steps:

  1. Share as much information as possible up-front.
  2. Communicate directly and frequently throughout the search.
  3. Be efficient with your part of the interview process.
  4. Aim high, but be reasonable with your expectations.

P.S. Looking for more help with your company’s executive recruiting efforts?

Download my free report below, or contact me directly to schedule a call.

About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for innovative sports, fitness, and wellness companies. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and, and he is the author of two books and over 250 articles on career management, peak performance, and executive recruiting.

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