When most people think of the Executive search industry, they think of the big name firms. These large firms typically cater to the Fortune 500 world. While there is value in working with a big name firm, unless you’re a Fortune 500 company, I don’t feel that you will get the attention that justifies the large fee that you will pay for the service.Engaging a boutique executive search firm may be the answer because you generally receive a better level of service, expertise, and fee structure. How so?
When you engage a boutique executive search firm, you are dealing directly with the person who will conduct the executive search and also be the one who will reach out, screen, qualify, and submit the candidates for your consideration. At a large executive search firm, the work may be directed by a senior level partner, but a majority of the work is done by lower level employees who are less connected to your company and probably less able to articulate to the candidates what you are looking for in the role.
Boutique executive search firms generally specialize in just a few industries or type of roles. Large firms’ expertise tends to be very broad. Boutique firms tend to know their industries very well and, therefore, have some strong connections with a variety of candidates. Boutiques firms typically work on fewer projects, devoting far more time and attention to each one. Large firms have many ongoing projects and will not be able to devote the necessary time required for tough searches.
Boutiques have higher search completion rates than big firms. Completion rates at big search firms are generally in the 60% to 65% range.
Bigger is not always better in executive search. In many cases, client service suffers by using a large firm. Boutique firms tend to know their clients much better and are interested in building long-term partnership arrangements.