The Executive Recruiting Survey

Executive search is a very specialized part of Talent and Acquisition. Often tasked to recruit executives, executive recruitment team’s scope often extends to senior management and even specialized positions as well. In fact, a third of our CXR member companies report that their executive recruitment teams include candidates at the executive level or higher, while another third only focus on the VP level or higher.

Almost all CXR member companies engage in the use of executive search firms, with 17% of all hires coming from those executive search agencies. Not all upper level positions are engaged by an agency. Most executive recruitment teams typically use agencies when the position is confidential. However, sometimes the logic can be more complicated. “If the role is particularly unique, if extreme confidentiality is needed, if the in-house team is short on capacity, we might lean toward an agency,” mentioned a CXR member. “In general, we only try to use agencies when we don’t have the internal capability to do it well, with our internal capability focused on areas that are critical to the company’s competitiveness and growth and offer ‘repeat business.’”

In addition to the confidentiality of the position, most CXR member companies also make their executive search confidential in their ATS, but still require all candidates to apply to the open position. Along with the ATS, a CRM is also widely used within most executive recruitment teams of CXR member companies.

Check out some of the results from our latest benchmark survey on how CXR members are best using their executive recruiting team.


  •  Supervisor and above


  • We don’t work with agencies for executive recruitment.
  • To Recruiter & the appropriate Executive both…
  • Varies across the regions currently

When/How do you determine which roles go to an agency?

  • In the past its been dependant on the level. SVP and above we tended to use external if the market was tight and we needed to hit very senior people. Saying that we hired internally all the way to EVP/CHRO when external failed.
  • At the onset after looking at succession plan talent and the bench.
  • It’s very much case by case, with no hard and fast rules. If the role is particularly unique, if extreme confidentiality is needed, if the in-house team is short on capacity, we might lean toward an agency. In general, we only try to use agencies when we don’t have the internal capability to do it well, with our internal capability focused on areas that are critical to the company’s competitiveness and growth and offer “repeat business.” For example, we would prefer to do all GM searches in-house, but if we needed a new CHRO or General Counsel, we might put that out to the agency because they are one-offs.
  • If it is a very niche or specializes position that we a) don’t have the internal expertise for and b) likely will not hire again.
  • Depth of expertise needed and quickness of hire
  • It seems more political than logical. Our team can really recruit for any position.
  • Known pipelines, or lack of one, and degree of difficulty to fill.
  • We have built internal capacity over the past 3 years to replace all prior agency spend.
  • Depends on Corporate Needs.
  • The complexity of scope (niche skill-set), location (clinical Division, and Group VP roles in rural markets), after a position has been opened with the internal ER team for several months and has not had sufficient traction. If a chief executive has a prior relationship with an agency. If a search must be treated with a high degree of confidentiality.
  • 1. If the role is very confidential and our in-house Executive Recruiter is not able to make a direct candidate connection. 2. If the in-house Executive Recruiting team does not have the capacity. 3. If the role is very niche and potentially outside of the area of expertise of the in-house team.
  • If I am too busy or have too many openings to adequately cover them at the level of White Glove treatment that each one deserves and do not have the internal resources to hand the search off to…
  • Extremely niche or capacity warrants.
  • Depending on the skillset and market conditions.
  • Subjective – completely depends on the hiring team.
  • VP and above go-to agency. We typically fill Director levels in-house.
  • We review our talent management data, we look at the level of role, diversity within the department, we spent a few weeks to see if we need to go to a firm or not. We will typically go-to firms for our Direct reports of CEO/President if we don’t have ready now internals.
  • Haphazard at best. Depends on the setup of the TA org in that region (currently changing this and it will be structured very differently).


  • It’s mixed now, but we are trying to push more discipline around using the ATS. Implementing a CRM soon which will likely start as the Exec Recruiting system of record.
  • Clockwork.
  • We try to…but not all.
  • For Director levels, VP reqs are not posted.
  • It is a combination. The most senior-level roles or highly confidential roles are managed outside the system until hire.

Please summarize how the recruiting process is managed?

  • We have an Executive Recruiting ATS that we use which feeds into Workday. Otherwise, we run the process much like an agency does with an Executive Recruiter will partner with an Executive Sourcer and Coordinator to run the search.
  • Via one supervisor/manager to acts as the intercessor.
  • We have a CRM that is only available to the in-house Executive Search team. The process, including must-ask-questions, is managed by the team. All search details are also tracked by the team.
  • Easier to talk – just had surgery and only have one hand to type.


  • Recruiter’s discretion
  • We manually add them.
  • A little bit of both. They will to apply at some point in the process, but can be reassigned if applied in the past from ATS.
  • Yes for Director. Any VP +, the answer is No.
  • BOTH – we ask them to apply, but we will also input them manually…
  • Try to have them apply. Many are manually added.
  • Mostly manually add.

What other tools are you using today to enhance the candidate experience?

  • Assessments, video interviewing, surveys.
  • These are selection tools: Smashfly Leadership Assessment – HealthcareSource Not sure they would qualify as enhancing the candidate experience.
  • Text Recruit, Interview Coordinators, Modern Hire, Microsoft Teams, Skype.


  • We text them but our texting technology is for campus and industry candidates.
  • No, but recruiters use texting with their own phones. They don’t use text recruit like is done in non-leadership staffing.
  • Just direct texting, not our platform.

Which CRM are you using?

  • Phenom People
  • Beamery
  • Smashfly
  • Workday
  • Invenias
  • Clockwork
  • Ascendify…most likely changing shortly
  • Avature
  • Salesforce (sunsetting and moving to Phenom People later this year)


  • Combination of Recruiters, Sourcers, and a Coordinator.
  • Pods of Exec Recruiters, Sourcers, and Coordinators.
  • Client leads, sourcers, RCs, talent intel, researchers.
  • It’s only letting me pick one. Recruiters/D&I Sourcers/Coordinators on the team.
  • One Executive Recruiter and one Executive Sourcing person.
  • Recruiters, Research, Sourcers, Coordinators.
  • Recruiters handle Director level and Head of TA VP+.


  • Most often HR, but also Business Leader/HM.
  • Could be HR or the Business leader.
  • Combination of our ATS, HR, and Business Leader.