To compete as a world-class company, world-class executive leadership is required. And while finding this elite leadership who will take your organization to its desired future state is critical, top-tier candidates probably aren’t going to walk through the front door. On the heels of the global pandemic and the mass-resignation phenomenon known as the Great Resignation, there is a growing global talent shortage at a 16-year-high, showing no signs of slowing down. Plus, many of the executive candidates that are well-aligned to a role at your organization likely aren’t posting their resumes to job boards and are, in fact, passive candidates.

With that in mind, organizations can partner with a trusted executive search firm to deploy a robust, industry-leading executive search strategy to solve the organization’s most crucial, complex, and confidential placements. Leading executive search firms don’t just “fill positions” with candidates who meet the minimum requirements. Instead, they focus on bringing immeasurable value to your executive search by deeply understanding the company’s current and future needs while using best-in-class research and assessment practices to source the world’s best leaders.

What is executive search?

What exactly is executive search, and what differentiates it from a typical recruiting process? Filling executive roles is far more critical and sensitive than filling traditional roles at an organization. CEOs, Board members, and C-Suite leaders have a vital impact on your organization’s future. Executive search empowers organizations to find candidates who are not only aligned with the role but who are also technically, academically, and culturally additive to the organization.

Organizations need “one-size-fits-one” executives who will not only lead in an organization’s current state but can lead it through change and growth while adding immense value. Finding these candidates requires a highly technical executive search strategy driven in partnership with an organization specializing in executive search.

How does the executive search process work?

Conducting an executive search is a highly specialized and complex process, requiring a deep understanding of your organization and its needs. A qualified executive search professional will use this knowledge to take a personalized approach to each assignment, carefully assessing the requirements and goals of the position. Here is what you can expect from a highly qualified executive search strategy.

Step 1: Discovery and Synthesis

The first step of an executive search strategy is discovery, where your executive recruiting partner does a deep dive into your organization with due diligence. This discovery stage should also include alignment with key stakeholders in the organization.

Then, during the synthesis portion of this step, your executive search partner will work with you to create the crucial position description, which outlines exactly what your organization is looking for in its next leader. The best-in-class executive search firms don’t stop there, and additional steps are taken to ensure that this description will lead to an excellent hire, it is the blueprint for the entire journey. For example, here at N2Growth, we also execute Calibration to build our bulls-eye profile and “test” for various experiences that further align with your required outcomes for the role.

Lastly, you might be onboarded to any digital tools or systems your executive search partner uses during this stage. For example, at N2Growth, our clients are connected to our transparent search application, N2Vue, which gives you 24/7 access to your entire pipeline with real-time reporting, data, and analytics.

Step 2: Candidate Development

This second step of an executive search strategy involves continuously sourcing candidates until the search is closed. Candidates are identified who match not only the skills and experience required for the role but also who are a cultural ‘add’ and are competent for the position. They will contribute monumentally to your organization as it grows.

At N2Growth, we use a two-step interview phase to qualify candidates before introducing them to our partners. The first interview revolves around understanding a candidate’s skills and experiences, while the second is a competency interview. These two interviews ultimately build a complete view of the whole candidate. We also present new candidates to our clients bi-weekly.

Step 3: Client Interviews

Following the candidate development stage in an executive search strategy, you’re introduced to qualified candidates for the initial interview stages. This collaborative process with clients supports you in crafting the interview experience. As interviews progress, your executive search firm can leverage the acquired information to further direct the executive search strategy. For example, N2Growth uses dialogue and feedback from client interviews to shape further candidates and sourcing while supporting active candidates in the process.

Step 4: Assessment and evaluation with candidates

Depending on which executive search firm you partner with, there are various ways that they might approach the assessment and evaluation portion of the search. As you start narrowing down your search to final candidates, N2Growth goes to great lengths to support your assessment of candidates while also debriefing you and your candidates during this step. To start with, we conduct a leadership assessment for every finalist candidate, and each candidate debriefs with an assessment consultant to verify the assignment results before the results are, in turn, presented to the client. We also conduct education, financial and criminal record verifications for finalist candidates and 360-degree reference checks.

Step 5: Negotiations

As you select your candidate, your executive search partner will take steps to ensure that your closing is seamless and efficient. At N2Growth, we pre-close candidates by gaining insights into their priorities to ensure a smooth negotiation stage for you. We also lead or broker negotiations as you see fit. This allows the client and candidate to start off on the right footing, excited to work together, not reminiscing about a perhaps difficult negotiation process.

Step 6: Transition

The executive search strategy does not end once a candidate is placed. The first three months for any new hire are typically the most critical, and the best executive search firms stay close to placed candidates during this crucial time. N2Growth follows up with placed candidates after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and one year. As part of our process for all CEO/CHRO engagements, four-month transition coaching is included or as an additional solution for other roles as required.

What are the benefits of partnering with an executive search firm?

What value do executive search firms bring to the table, and what are the tangible benefits of partnering with a best-in-class firm? Here are the top three benefits:

Benefit 1: Solutions over candidates

As we touched on earlier, executive roles are far more critical, sensitive, and impactful for your organization than any other hire. That’s why executive search firms work to find solutions to your specific needs and goals instead of simply filling a box on our organization chart. A solution-driven executive search strategy means that your executive search partner deeply understands your organization, what you’re looking for in a leader, and will seek the skills and experiences required to take your organization to new heights.

Benefit 2: Access to top talent pool

There’s no other way of putting it: there are many executive hiring challenges that make top executive talent hard to come by. Unless you’re partnering with an elite executive search firm that has access to a globally-elite talent pool, sourcing top-tier candidates can be a challenge. The best executive search firms don’t only plug-and-play candidates from competitors but also have unique techniques and practices for sourcing and aligning candidates. For example, here at N2Growth, we identify and map various talent pools and actively seek out new talent pools, including considering experiences brought by candidates from adjacent industries.

Benefit 3: Confidentiality and becoming a trusted advisor

Your executive recruiting firm is far more than a professional hiring team. These consultants are your trusted advisor, helping you feel confident in your decision to partner with them for your most critical placements. Because of this, the top firms practice unwavering confidentiality for their search assignments.

What are the qualities to look for when partnering with an executive search firm?

Not all executive search firms are made equal, and in fact, there are some distinct qualities to look for when partnering with a best-in-class executive search firm.

Future-state focused

Industry-leading executive search firms understand that you’re not just looking to fill a role for your organization today. Instead, you’re searching for a powerfully additive leader who will contribute to the growth and future of your organization. These top executive search firms execute their executive search strategy with your future needs and goals as a driver.


Top-tier executive search partners do far more than work with you to fill seats. They become a collaborative partner by building a rich and deep relationship with you to act as an extension of your organization in the market. This relationship-centric approach allows your executive search partner to represent and enhance your employer brand while getting access to executives that otherwise might have been out of reach.


Your trusted executive search partner should work deeply to understand how your organization wants to solve business problems through talent. This involves understanding the outcomes the role will lead to versus only taking the role at face value based on the title. For example, N2Growth recommends exceptional leaders based on understanding the business problem that needs to be solved and the value this person brings to your organization.

N2Growth: A Differentiated Experience

Here at N2Growth, our unique and industry-leading approach to your executive search strategy is designed to drive your organization’s desired outcomes. Our candidate-sourcing techniques ensure that highly-qualified and hard-to-reach candidates become viable options. We conduct in-depth assessments and two-step screening before candidates are even introduced to you.

N2Growth is a proven, trusted advisor. We are transparent and collaborative, which is why we utilize N2Vue, the executive search industry’s most advanced engagement management engine. This system sets the standard for transparency and collaboration at every stage of our client experience.

N2Growth is also dedicated to supporting you during the interview phase, background checks, and even at the negotiation table. Following your executive placement, we provide continued transition support in the initial stages of your placement, offering partners a 12-month industry-leading guarantee.

The Importance of a Best-in-Class Executive Search Firm Partner

Your executive search strategy deserves the outcome-driven partnership that only a best-in-class executive search firm can bring to the table. Here at N2Growth, we are best known for our track record of handling highly confidential and complex Board, CEO and C-Suite retained search assignments with unmatched speed and precision.

Are you interested in a conversation on the connection between talent and value creation in your organization? Contact us today.