8 Signs Your Startup Needs to Hire an Executive Search Firm

You know your company inside and out. You did the market research, developed a business plan, and secured funding more or less on your own.

Now, you’re ready to hire executives. You’ve never done this before. But like so many things you’ve never done before, you’re ready to dive in and figure it out. Your determination is admirable. But do you know the reasons  indicating that you shouldn’t do this alone?

Here are 8 signs you need to hire an executive search firm.

1. A Bad Executive Hire Has Already Cost You

There was no way to foresee what happened. They interviewed so well. They had great references. But it went downhill form there, and a bad executive hiring decision really costs a company.

Executive Search for your startup hiring needs

Startups are among the most vulnerable to hiring mistakes. They’re least able to take that hit.

A CAP study found that the average executive turnover costs 213% of the executive’s annual salary.

This cost includes the time and money required to do the following:

  • Recruit, screen, and interview
  • Complete necessary background and reference checks
  • Train

In addition, a bad executive hire can cause:

  • Lost team productivity while a new leader is found and trained
  • Decreased revenues
  • Increased customer complaints
  • Loss of goodwill

While all of these are impactful, that last one really hurts. As a startup, you’re trying to build a reputation. If it goes south in the beginning, it’s hard to recover.

An executive search firm will help ensure you hire the right executive leadership from the start.

2. You’re Having Trouble Finding Someone Who’s Looking

Most people who have what it takes to be a successful executive are already in an executive position and usually not looking to make a move. You need to learn how to approach them.

Then earn a moment of their time. Offer them a value proposition that makes leaving a current, stable position for one in a startup a smart move

It’s easier said than done.

An executive search firm knows the best strategies to connect with the people who aren’t looking to move.

3. You’re Not Sure Who You’re Looking For

Many startups aren’t 100% clear about the executive role they’re hiring for. Likewise, open executive roles at startups are usually in areas that you’re not an expert. And you don’t have previous successful executives to compare a person to.

Use an executive search firm to focus your open role

Executive search firms are experts at hiring people across executive roles. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in business. But Executive recruitment professionals can help you figure out what you’re looking for and then find that perfect match.

4. You Need Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a requirement in hiring for many reasons. For instance, you probably don’t want your top competitors to hear a rumor that your current CMO or Sales Director isn’t working out. Moreover, you may not be ready to tell your current CFO, who may also be a college friend, that you’re looking for a replacement. It could impact job performance and cause ripples of discontent through your startup.

Executive search firms know how to keep a job search discreet to avoid alerting competitors or your employees that a recruitment is underway at your company. As a third party, the search firm keeps your company anonymous until it’s absolutely necessary to divulge that information.

It’s hard to do that if you’re recruiting directly.

5. You Don’t Have the Time for Something This Important

Normally, when something is this important you find the time. But hiring an executive is an exhaustive process. It’s more exhaustive because you don’t do it all the time or have the in-house tools and talent to make the best choice.

Don’t make a poor executive hire decision just because you didn’t have time to do needed due diligence. Having the need to file a position but lacking the time to put in the effort of hiring is clear sign it’s time to hire an executive search firm. 

Use an executive search firm to save time

6. You’ve Got Vision Problems

When a founder of a startup is trying to play too many roles within the company, it’s hard for employees to understand how their role supports your grand vision. When that happens, developing a shared vision can be impossible.

When your startup vision isn’t clear, put someone in place who can not only communicate your vision, but can build toward it. Team productivity rises by 60-70% when a clear vision is established, according to Forbes.

An executive search firm helps you find this kind of person for your startup.

Read more on why hiring is essential to your startup’s success.

Hire an executive search firm when you need help focusing you company's vision

7. You’re Missing Out

Time is always money in business. Allowing this position to sit vacant is costing you money. There’s no leader steering your branding and marketing efforts. You’re missing out of opportunities to establish yourself and grow.

Executive recruitment services apply the most effective and efficient processes to fill that seat faster with the right person.

8. Your In-House Recruiter Doesn’t Hire Executives

You may have already hired the Head or Human Resources or a highly-skilled recruiter. You could be thinking, “isn’t this their job?” But as we’ve seen throughout this article, hiring leadership is different. The stakes are so much higher.

The niche recruiting experience and skill needed to hire at this caliber isn’t present in standard recruiters. They may be great at what they do. But they’re not executive recruiters.

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