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Why is executive search broken?

March 7, 2024

Executive search has been the same for a long time, and it can be a hassle. Even after a tedious search process, you might find the person you hired is great—but not quite what you needed. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

We asked our team of executive recruiters to share their perspective on how the standard for executive search falls short—and what they plan to do about it. Here’s what they told us: 

Traditional executive search isn’t backed by data. 

Traditional executive search is an antiquated process that hasn’t evolved or been disrupted in a long time. Because of this, many professionals rely on habits that lack data to back them up. 

This is especially apparent when it comes to talent. Executives are often chosen based on their network, reputation, or accompanying anecdotal evidence. This creates bias among search professionals, founders, hiring managers, board members, and other stakeholders, who may become inclined towards big names and recognizable resumes, rather than concrete evidence that indicates whether a candidate is truly qualified and a good fit for a specific role. 

Traditional executive search isn’t tailored to your needs. 

Traditional search partners often rely on assumptions about what roles and candidates look like. While experience is valuable, if recruiters don’t dig deep and ask the hard questions—instead basing the search on industry assumptions and previous experience—they won’t be able to truly understand what your company needs. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that points toward the status quo—and away from innovation and growth. 

At the end of the day, no two organizations, roles, or candidates are the same. To find the best executive for the job, we identify what sets your team apart, hone in on your specific needs, and search for unique skills that set the right leader apart. 

Traditional executive search doesn’t think outside the box. 

Traditional executive search is heavily reliant on existing networks of “known entities,” which are, historically, primarily white and male. When recruiters rely only on the people they know, rather than proactively seeking out new talent, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, or in unconscious bias. 

This model is old school, slow to adapt to change, and very transactional. It doesn’t allow for the change and growth that occur when new professionals enter the scene, which means you end up losing out on potentially exceptional, if unproven, talent. 

Traditional search also lacks flexibility, typically assuming all executive roles require full time hires. Now more than ever, though, it can be helpful to consider non-traditional role types, which give you the flexibility to hire a fractional executive, work with an interim CMO, outsource a project, or find a coach to help an existing leader step into a larger role. This adaptability means you can tailor your leadership team to your exact needs, saving money, maximizing your use of time, and creating space to grow. 

Thinking outside the box when it comes to executive search is a powerful catalyst for growth. 

Traditional executive search isn’t value-aligned. 

Traditional executive search has a misalignment of values. Often, recruiters get paid more according to their candidates’ compensation. This model doesn’t take the quality of the candidate—or your business needs—into account. 

At Bolster, our pricing doesn’t change according to compensation, and we’ll help you consider other role types. This, our recruiting team shares, allows us to look for untapped talent with the tailored experience and skills to make an impact on your business where you are today.

Bolster is the new way to do executive search. 

When you work with Bolster, you can expect the best of both worlds. Our recruiters have decades of experience at established firms, and they specialize in hiring executives across functions. We combine their expertise with our unique, AI-driven platform to surface the best candidates and deliver a superior executive search experience.

Built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, Bolster combines the power of experienced recruiters with our intelligent sourcing platform to match you with the executive talent your team needs. It’s smarter search done faster and at a fraction of the cost.

Want to know more about what it’s like to work with us? Book a time to chat with our team