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Executive search in Russia: how it works


Executive search is commonly understood as the search for top-level executives and managers upon the customer's order without an official announcement of the vacancy. Today, the human factor and leadership skills play an ever more important role in business. And so the question of hiring a person who can provide a new stimulus to the company development is particularly acute for many directors.

In Russia, executive search services have been gaining in popularity in recent years. How do executive search agencies work in Russia, and how do their methods differ from the global ones?

From the USA to Russia

The executive search concept appeared in the USA in the 1950s. It was then that growing competition between large corporations forced them out to seek new ways to maintain their leading positions. And educated, confident, energetic people, who can change the state of things in a big company using only their efforts, became such a way.

In Russia, executive search services were offered for the first time in the early 1990s. At this time, the world's major HR agencies turned their attention to the rapidly growing domestic market, which was in great need of qualified managers. Development of the Russian executive search sector has been long slowed down by a personnel shortage. In the country, there were no managers with the necessary experience and sufficient knowledge. However, from the mid 2000s, the situation has rapidly changed for the better.

Executive search agencies in Russia

There were no HR companies in our country in the early 1990s. Not surprisingly, international players were the first to enter the domestic executive search market. These were large HR agencies with efficient recruitment methods.

But today there are over 40 companies offering executive search services in Moscow alone. It is worth noting that not all of these organizations have the same resources, experience, knowledge and reputation in the executive search field.

For example, in the West, top personnel is recruited by experts with successful management experience. This is considered to be the way to better understand the customer's needs and select candidates more accurately. Very few HR agencies in Russia can provide such professionals. So executive search is often performed by people who do not have their own management experience or have insufficient experience.

One more difference between executive search in Russia and the western approach is the understanding of the top manager. In Russia, people who have the word "director" in the name of their position and have 10 subordinates fall into the executive category. In the West, things are measured more easily, in money. If you earn less than $10,000 a month, you are not a top manager, irrespective of position.

Executive search technology: how it works

Agencies that offer executive search services work according to a standard plan. It is important to say here that the process of searching for suitable candidates involves complex and lengthy work which usually takes at least 2-3 months. Therefore, if you are offered a qualified manager "tomorrow", you should doubt the quality of such services.

What is the search for top executives like? What stages make up the executive search technology?

  1. Understanding the customer's requirements. HR team meets the representatives of the customer's company to find out all the necessary conditions and requirements for candidates. At this stage, an experienced executive search professional should get the most accurate information about the customer's requirements – even if the customer himself cannot formulate it clearly.
  2. Market research. The executive search team analyzes the situation on the market, the customer's competitors, and related fields that can supply the right candidates. They study the level of salaries, requirements for specialists in similar positions in western companies. They make up the portrait of an "ideal candidate".
  3. Long list compilation. A long list of candidates is drawn up on the basis of the customer's requirements and market research.
  4. Short list compilation. Long-listed candidates are interviewed, following which a short list is drawn up and submitted to the customer.
  5. Holding meetings with the customer. Candidates (or, as often happens, one candidate) meet the employer company's representatives. Following the meetings, a decision is made to offer the job or not.
  6. Making a job offer. A personal job offer is drawn up for the successful candidate. It is a very important stage as the candidate makes a final decision after that.
  7. New employee adaptation. After the right manager has been found, the executive search agency has not finished its work. HR specialists continue to "manage" the employee, overseeing his/her adaptation at the new workplace.

Cost of the executive search service

As a rule, executive search agencies receive 25-30% of the candidate's annual salary. This is due to the fact that a large group of highly skilled professionals works on the project over several months. In addition, a good manager justifies the costs in the first months of his/her work.

Head-hunting or executive search?

A question is often asked: what is the difference between executive search and head-hunting if we talk about the latter in terms of top management? When we talk about head-hunting, we mean that the customer or the HR agency knows the candidate (or the range of candidates for the position) in advance. They are competitors' employees or the professionals known in their industry.

The key word in the executive search is "search". The main work here is to find a certain number of candidates that meet the customer's requirements and ready to consider the possibility of changing a job. The complexity of this method for HR agency consists in the fact that it does not try to buy a known top manager. The hardest thing for executive search companies is to find the best candidate with minimum financial losses for the customer.

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