Executive Search or Recruitment – what is the right choice for you?

“Do what you do best, and let others do the rest ”There is a lot of truth to Robert Ringer’s famous saying. When we focus on what we do best and hire others to fill in the gaps by doing what they do best we become efficient, we create momentum and we keep growing.

Needless to say, it is imperative to find the right people for the various positions in your company. To do so is not easy, which is why large corporations have a whole department dedicated to the task and why smaller businesses who understand the importance of the matter will partner up with someone who is specialized in the field.

To try to save money by handling your own recruitment can turn into a very costly affair unless you have a dedicated talent acquisition team in-house.  The money “saved” is likely to get absorbed by the internal hours spent on the process at best and by hiring the wrong candidate at worst.

Once you have identified that you need a partner for your upcoming recruitment you will have to determine if you need an Executive Search Consultant or a Recruitment Agency.  Here is a list of when to collaborate with one over the other:

Executive search


  • Executive Positions, think C-level (CEO, CFO, CIO, CDO, COO, and CMO among others).
  • Highly specialized positions such as Country Managers, eCom managers and design managers as well as roles that demand specialized knowledge of certain sectors, products, regions and ways of conducting business.
  • Sometimes senior and mid-level management such as category managers,  regional marketing- and sales managers.


  • Will actively look for candidates and personally contact those who are the best fit for the role.
  • Will reach out to their large network of highly skilled professionals in executive positions.
  • Will spend time to make sure they understand your company and specific needs fully.
  • Will screen and interview several candidates and present you with a shortlist of qualified top candidates.
  • A more proactive approach.


  • As with most things, you get what you pay for. Here you pay top dollar, and you will end up with a top shelf candidate.


  • Will find the best of the best by looking at those not actively job hunting.
  • Your consultant will contact hard to reach and hard to find candidates. All in accordance to your specific needs.
  • Will have an extensive network of top performers to contact on your behalf.



  • Mid-level management think category managers,  regional marketing- and sales managers, but also office managers, store managers
  • Below mid-level management
  • Generic roles (not specialized)


  • Will place ads and wait for candidates to reach out to them.
  • Will then spend time identifying, screening and interviewing to find the best candidate among those who reached out and applied.
  • A less proactive approach.


  • Will cost less than Executive Search, and depending on the agency it can be significantly less. A tip is to apply the thought of “you get what you pay for” here as well, as the quality of work will reflect the price tag in most cases.


  • Will find the best candidate among those who reached out and applied.
  • Job ads will be posted at all the relevant places for those job hunting, you will get a high reach.
  • Will cost less.

As you can see, each firm has its purpose and as long as you collaborate with a great executive search firm for the c-level and specialized positions and a great recruitment agency for other positions you are on a promising path to fill your company with the best people for the job at hand.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming checklist of how to choose the right Executive Search partner for your company.

Good Luck!

The CIP Team


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