Executive recruiting is a specialized branch of management consulting. The mission of an executive recruiter is to bring your opportunity to a candidate’s attention and assess his fit. That means reaching out to anyone the recruiter feels fits your needs — regardless of his current “availability.”
Back in the mid-1980s, the profession was still in its infancy. Few people understood what it was. Honestly, recruiters spent more time explaining to clients what an executive recruiter did and why they should use one than we did actually conducting the searches!
Since then, the profession has grown by leaps and bounds. Indeed, as the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants notes in its report “2014 State of the Retained Executive Search Industry Part One: An Overview of Retained Executive Search Worldwide”:
The success of this professional service has been exponential in the past 50 years as the global economy has developed, industries have become transformed, and mobility has made executive talent available to all organizations as a key facet of competitive advantage.
According to that same report, what began as a $750 million industry in 1978 has exploded into one that pulled more than $10 billion in 2013. And projected numbers for 2016 were even higher: more than $12 billion.
Those numbers pertain to external executive recruiters — those providers hired by companies to help fill open positions. But in-house talent-acquisition teams are also on the rise. This is thanks in part to the cost of external recruiters, but also to the plethora of recruiters jettisoned by search firms during the Great Recession that began in 2007. These in-house teams have greatly lowered the cost of hiring executives under the $150,000 to $200,000 range.