Building Bridges: What an Executive Search Firm Can Do and What Candidates Seek
As you probably know by now, an executive search firm specializes in identifying highly qualified candidates in executive and/or senior leadership-level positions for organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. These firms are also experts in specific industries which allows them to have a market niche of clients seeking high-caliber candidates.
When executive and/or senior leadership-level candidates work with search firms, they typically have certain expectations and seek specific benefits from the experience.These candidates are looking for a partner who can help them navigate the job market and provide them with guidance and support throughout the job search process.
A lot has been researched and written regarding the kind of candidates that an executive search firm looks for to successfully fulfill vacancies from their clients. However, little has been said about what highly qualified candidates look for when deciding to work with a search firm to climb the ladder in their careers.
Thus, wouldn´t it be interesting to dig deep and find out what executives and/or senior leadership-level individuals are looking to achieve when working with search firms?
Based on research and considering certain testimonials we gathered at Reneris from some of our candidates, candidates working with search firms, look for:
1. Access to exclusive job opportunities: Candidates expect search firms to have access to a wide range of job opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. These exclusive opportunities often include senior-level executive positions and specialized roles, providing candidates with a chance to explore high-level career prospects they might not find through traditional job search channels. Shawnta´ Duckworth, Director of Enrollment Management at The Lillian and Betty Ratner Montessori School in Cleveland Ohio shared, “I believe if it wasn’t for Reneris I would have not even known about the job. They give their all in helping find an exceptional opportunity”.
2. Industry expertise and insights: Candidates might seek out search firms that specialize in their industry or field to get expert guidance on their job search. They may want to get advice on their resume or help prepare for interviews and expect the search consultants to possess in-depth knowledge about the industry, current trends, and the hiring landscape. This expertise helps candidates gain a better understanding of the job market enabling them to make informed decisions about their career paths. Andrea Osgood, Chief Real Estate Development Officer with Eden Housing based in Hayward, CA shares the value she sees working with a firm that has industry knowledge. “Reneris and Dominique have specialized in our unique industry so she is able to lean into a wealth of contacts to widen the search and find great candidates”.
3. Personalized career guidance: Search firms often provide personalized career coaching guidance to candidates. This may include resume reviews, interview preparation, and advice on how to position oneself as a strong candidate for specific roles. Candidates value this support to enhance their chances of success during the hiring process. “Nick established a close rapport with me right away and provided the support I needed to successfully get the job. He did not treat me as one more applicant. He always kept me informed on the steps and status of the process. Nick guided me through the process. His leadership helped get the career opportunity” shares Mauricio Cordova, who was hired by Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco as their first Chief Operating Officer in January 2023. Shawnta´ Duckworth summarized her overall experience, “I appreciated the personal touch. I felt like Reneris knew me personally. The before-interview prep helps get the nervousness out”.
4. Candidate advocacy: Successful search firms invest in their candidates´ success and act as advocates throughout the hiring process. They represent candidates to potential employers, highlighting their strengths and aligning their skills and experiences with the needs of the hiring organizations. Jennifer Ingram, who was hired by MidPen Housing based in Foster City, CA as their first SVP of Equity & Inclusion, was attracted to the opportunity for leadership and impact and uprooted her family from Cincinnati to the Bay Area. “I had a great experience working with Dominique. She was communicative, thoughtful, and supportive every step of the way. She provided relevant insight and took the time to understand the aspects that were most important to me. She advocated on my behalf and offered candid feedback. Even onboarding she checked in on me and ensured all was well”.
5. Improved job fit: Candidates expect that working with a search firm will lead to a better job and cultural fit with a company and opportunities that align with their skills, experience, and career goals. Ryan Cassidy, who had been commuting since the pandemic from Northern California to his job in New York, was open to exploring opportunities in his new adopted hometown. “Even though Reneris was hired by the employer, I felt like they also had my interest in mind. The even-handed/fairness of the process was good. I came to trust Dominique’s opinion and saw that she wanted to make a good match. This was definitely the right place for me, I can’t imagine a better fit”. He found his perfect fit as Vice President of Real Estate with Mutual Housing California based in Sacramento.
Furthermore, Cynthia Alvarez, who was also on the lookout for a leadership role in affordable housing, confided in our firm her hopes and desires for her next role, and the type of work environment in which she could thrive. “Reneris, in helping place me at Christian Church Homes, were true partners and put me at ease throughout the process and made sure I had relevant information throughout. As recruiters, they carry their work with integrity, professionalism and are supportive throughout. Dominique spent time getting to know me to understand my priorities and values and ensure alignment. She worked to ensured a good fit with CCH. Am thrilled to be at CCH and work in such a caring organization. I am grateful to Dominique and the team at Reneris and am glad they occupy the recruitment space in our affordable housing world”. Cynthia accepted a position with Christian Church Homes to be their first Chief Operating Officer in June.
6. Time efficiency and Managing stress: Job searching can be time-consuming, specially for candidates seeking leadership roles. By partnering with search firms, candidates expect to save time as the firms handle the initial screening and match candidates to suitable job openings, streamlining the job search process and thus also relieving candidates from the stress caused by the whole recruiting process. Abby Westbrook, who worked remotely for a nonprofit in another state when she and her husband decided to move home to be closer to family, was looking for someone to guide her through her job search as she managed full-time employment and was taking care of a young family and new home. Today, she is the Executive Director of Social Venture Partners in Cleveland, a role that has allowed her to make a considerable professional impact in the community while maintaining work-life balance. “I was recruited by Dominique and her tam for a nonprofit leadership role in Cleveland. Dominique was a dream to work with, she is honest, transparent, and communicative throughout the whole process. She made what can be a stressful experience much more easeful and is truly committed to fostering a mutually good fit”
7. Networking expansion opportunities: Search firms often have established relationships with companies and can provide candidates with networking opportunities that they may not have access to on their own. Working with search firms can expose candidates to a broader network of potential employers and industry contacts. This expanded network can be valuable for building long-term career opportunities.
8. Negotiation support: Candidates might seek out search firms for help with salary negotiations and benefits packages. Search firms can act as intermediaries between candidates and employers, helping to ensure that both parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
9. Long-term relationship building: Candidates who have a positive experience with a search firm may establish long-term relationships. This could lead to future career opportunities as search firms continue to consider them for suitable roles throughout their careers.
10. Confidentiality and privacy: Candidates want their personal and professional information to be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Working with search firms safeguards a higher level of privacy compared to publicly applying for jobs, especially for candidates employed and looking to make a discreet job transition.
Overall, candidates´ experiences may vary based on the specific search firm they work with and the quality of the services provided. A reputable and experienced search firm is more likely to meet candidates´ expectations and deliver a positive experience throughout the job search process.
Please feel free to contact us at Reneris if you are looking for a change in your career.
Reneris is a specialized executive search and management consulting firm that provides professional services to clients seeking a high-caliber consultative partner. We have successfully placed candidates in leadership positions in the Real Estate (Hospitality, Multi-Family Housing, Senior Living) and Non-Profit sectors.
Please contact us to learn how Reneris can help you attract executive-level talent for your leadership team.