The Art of Preparing an Executive Search


The Art of Preparing an Executive Search

by Myriam Le Cannellier

Upon a recent trip to France, I enjoyed some of my favorite food. I am not talking very sophisticated cuisine but rather simple dishes prepared by artisan chefs with excellent ingredients. As an example, I ate a savory “galette” that had the right amount of softness and crispiness at the same time, if possible. The cook who prepared it was working out of tiny open kitchen for customers to see and enjoy the appeal of this simple yet delicious dish being prepared in front of their watering sight.

The experience and craft put into this simple dish makes me think of our own craft as Executive Recruiters: the same way a chef creates a great dish by using their skills and ingredients, experienced executive recruiters need to polish their craft to be able to find and present great candidates for C-suite positions. There is an art to cook and elevate a simple yet well above average dish, there is also an art to kick-start an Executive Search, as the beginning of it is critical to its ultimate success.

There are several reasons why a stakeholder meeting is so essential:

  • It is often the only opportunity to gather ALL decision makers and influencers (HR, Hiring manager(s), CEO.) to discuss the search objectives, the profile required and the process, aiming at the most alignment possible before the search starts.
  • It is the time to clarify what the job description/posting is calling for. Often during this meeting, additional expectations come to light that will influence the outcome
  • In the case of a search where stakeholders are in the US and Europe (or Canada), it is the best time to discuss some potential challenges, the Executive Recruiter acting as a neutral agent to help reconcile some of the differences.

It is very common to realize during that conversation that the top priority for the role is not the same for parties in the US and parties in the European or Canadian headquarters.

Dealing with the gap in expectations is where the “art” of executive recruiting comes into play: The Executive Recruiter needs to be an active listener and an observer of subtle signs – not always clearly expressed. Maybe one person is speaking most of the time, leaving little room to others to express additional insight; or participants keep talking about someone in the company who is not part of the meeting but seems to be of importance in the process.

The Executive Recruiter needs to be able to ask follow-up questions in a diplomatic way, yet not shying away from potential issues or inconsistencies. This is not something that can be learnt overnight and following a checklist of questions to ask will not be enough. From years of experience and hundreds of similar meetings, we have honed the art to ensure these meetings are efficient and lead to a better Executive Search outcome.

The Executive Recruiter needs to be able to comfortably challenge some of the “asked” based on previous experience and previous practice.

We, at DSML, believe in the importance of that “intake” meeting and our team has polished their craft to make this as efficient and successful as possible. Thus, just like I enjoy a well crafted dish, we want our clients to be fulfilled.

Hiring is the most important decision a company can make, no matter what industry one is in.  Consider engaging with an Executive Search firm that has a well-defined process in place.

If your company is seeking to recruit for a key position, such as CEO, COO, President, VP or other Senior level role, have a conversation with DSML Executive Search  to ensure your search includes a “thorough” process and a “success based” strategy.