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3 Expensive Executive Search Mistakes


Finding the right executive candidate can sometimes be a long, expensive process. Of course, if the right leader is chosen, it’s well worth the investment, but doing it the wrong way can often make it even more costly. Having walked through the process with hundreds of clients over the years, we have cultivated an expertise on the dos and don’ts of executive search — what makes for smooth sailing and what derails the process. Out of this knowledge, we’ve concluded three of the most expensive mistakes an organization can make during the executive search process.

  • Not having a definitive plan and/or not sticking to the plan.

    Some of the most costly decisions during the search process result from making changes midway through or lacking target dates for milestones along the way. If the job description or expectations change after the process has begun, the search firm or committee must then reevaluate all the efforts conducted thus far — and perhaps even start over. Tangentially, sticking to a plan is just one part of the equation. Having a definitive plan with goals and milestones laid out for the process from Day 1 is crucial for measuring progress and keeping the search on track and on time.

  • Not involving the right people in the right roles.

    One of the biggest mistakes we see in executive searches is neglecting to include important stakeholders in the process from the beginning, which causes issues particularly when candidates are brought in for employer interviews. If the expectations and opinions of stakeholders are not properly assessed from Day 1, candidates can get held up in the employer interview process and more time and research could be required to complete the process successfully. Another misstep is neglecting to have the hiring decision-maker drive the search. Without his or her input, the search could be unknowingly missing the mark and wasting the time of not only the committee or search firm, but the decision-maker as well. Letting them lead the charge is the most efficient way to get the right candidate in place.

  • Not allowing the search firm to do its job.

    When a company hires a search firm, it is bringing in experts — people who have successfully placed candidates in high-ranking positions in many other organizations and know how the process works best. Micromanaging the process at every stage, attempting to take shortcuts or skip recommended steps, and neglecting to include the firm in hiring negotiations are all costly mistakes when it comes to executive search. Trusting in the process and the people you have hired to find the absolute best candidates for the job is crucial to the efficiency and success of the endeavor.

Keeping these things in mind when entering into an executive search will greatly reduce the likelihood of costly errors and overly lengthy processes, making your investment well worth it in the end.