The search for the right person to fill a senior management post can often run into months because a company is not only looking for a competent individual but also a good leader to head a division or entire organisation.

It needs to find someone who has vision and conviction and who embodies the company's own values and qualities.

Engaging an executive search company to do this on its behalf has profound benefits.

Some executive search companies use a multi-pronged strategy comprising advertisements in newspapers and job portals, in-house database search, professional networks and headhunting.

This enables them to produce high-calibre candidates for a company's selection more quickly.

Wider net

There tend to be fewer candidates available for high-level appointments. And the individual the company is looking for may actually be comfortable in his current environment and may not be actively looking to switch jobs.

Executive search consultants can present such opportunities in a professional manner to potential candidates. The company must be reassured that all the possible candidates have been considered for the post.

Re-align expectations

Should the right person not be found, even after screening and approaching the client's competitors, the company's management can be advised to re-align expectations and perhaps get someone with the required skill set but from an unrelated industry. The compensation package should be readjusted accordingly and made attractive enough to draw the right candidate.

Manage candidates

Professionally-trained executive search consultants are able to manage their client's candidates through the entire headhunting process.

They are able to sieve out essential information like the candidate's motivation for leaving the firm, what the person isn't happy with in his present environment, what his career objectives are and what makes him tick.

Knowing this about their candidates allows consultants to manage them better as well as negotiate their salary and benefits.

Change agent

The executive search consultant plays an active role in helping the candidate assimilate into his new environment, managing possible culture shock and any misalignment of promises.

The consultant also plays the role of counsellor and to a certain degree, mentor to the candidate. By quickening the integration process, the faster the candidate can contribute positively to the company.

Neutral party

If a company's management does not want to have its expansion plans revealed to competitors or if it is uncomfortable with the idea of poaching directly from another, executive search consultants can act as neutral parties.

They will maintain the confidentiality of all parties involved and manage the whole process based on specific instructions given to them.