How to Conduct In-House Executive Search: Differently
January 13, 2021
by Krista Bradford

How to Conduct In-House Executive Search: Differently

In-house executive search teams at large corporations are not new. But there is a calculus involved. When a corporation conducts more than 20 or so searches a year, it usually makes economic sense to establish an internal executive search function.

LinkedIn Has Helped

LinkedIn has helped companies conduct their own executive searches. Before LinkedIn, corporate recruiting teams would build a database of passive candidates from scratch. However, with LinkedIn serving up the passive candidate profiles of 700 million members, corporate recruiters start with more passive candidates than one could possibly imagine. While that may be bad news for traditional retained search firms, it has been good news for Intellerati. Intellerati partners with a number of those in-house teams, and so we’ve benefited from the seismic shift, a trend that has been reported by Joann Lublin in the Wall Street Journal and by Carol Hymowitz and Jeff Green in Bloomberg Businessweek.


In-House Executive Search Advantages

In a fit of rugged determinism, corporations are hiring former retained search consultants to head up teams of executive recruiters and sourcers, who conduct recruiting research. They do it to save money and to deliver better results. Because they are seated on the inside, corporate recruiters enjoy keener insight into a candidate’s cultural fit and greater access to hiring executives and stakeholders. However, if they are not careful, in-house executive search teams risk producing poor results.

Replicating retained executive search methods in-house runs the risk of replicating that model’s shortcomings.


Avoid Copying Traditional Search Firm Methods

On average, 40% of traditional retained executive searches fail to complete. Imagine if your phone didn’t work 40% of the time, or if your Internet was down nearly 10 hours a day. That would be bad. Very bad. To be fair, search firms are not always to blame for a retained search that ends without a placement. Sometimes openings go away. Other times, an internal candidate is selected. And sometimes clients drag their feet so long that candidate is snapped up by another employer or the candidate simply gets cold feet. But whatever the reason, clearly something is terribly wrong when employers spend more than $100,000 on retained searches that end without a hire 40% of the time. That’s why your in-house recruitment team shouldn’t copy traditional search firm methods. Instead, it pays to innovate and raise the bar.


Match Force With Big Data

Whether conducted internally or externally, executive searches will continue to fail at too high a rate because of flaws in traditional candidate research methods. Consequently, a star candidate who could have been hired isn’t because that executive wasn’t identified, profiled, or recruited. Most missed candidates are easy enough to find. It’s just that too much information gets in the way. In fact, while it may seem counter-intuitive, the more candidate information there is, the harder executive search becomes. To be successful, your in-house executive search must match force with the massive amount of candidate data.


Update Candidate Research Methods

That’s because widely accepted sourcing “best practices” to identify and recruit top talent are hopelessly outdated. The approach hyper-focuses on gathering information, but it rarely pauses to determine what it all means. Traditional sourcing research doesn’t go to the trouble of connecting the dots. That’s like buying a book, but refusing to read it, all the while insisting that having the book made you smarter. It simply doesn’t work that way.


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