Stop Wasting Money …

How often have you been involved in hiring a senior executive when it only becomes clear mid-way through the (expensive) executive search what is really required?

You aren’t alone as research shows 37% of all executive searches fail.  That is a lot of wasted time, money and effort for no return.

Why is this? Selection processes are becoming more sophisticated, psychometric tools are widely available to assess fit and networks are easier to access for sourcing, proof of experience and referencing. Let us use Occam’s Razor – the simplest answer is often correct. Hiring requirements are often unrealistic relative to available talent (bundling diversity with high levels of functional experience and exposure to digitalised markets for example); hiring priorities vary between stakeholders, only to be exposed when decisions are required post interview; compensation budgets do not meet market expectations etc.

So what’s the answer? You would hope your retained head-hunter would provide you with the market counsel that would steer you from these hazards. In reality, the hazards are often only visible when collision is inevitable. When a search is commissioned, there is usually a focus on time. The default reaction is to recruit. But what are you hiring, from where…and why would they come to you? In the same way due diligence is performed pre-acquisition to de-risk mergers, why not take a look at the landscape around you. Test the water, undertake research on competitors and the more creative places your newest leadership hires will be sitting. Build a picture of their skills, costs, motivations and perceptions of you. Then decide what you need, what you’d like, and what you need to do to attract. We call this Pre-Search Due Diligence.

A recent Forbes study claimed that a failed Executive Search could cost a company up to $500,000. It’s not just the cost of the search itself, but the opportunity cost of delayed leadership in critical roles. And this doesn’t take into account the reputational damage to your EVP of an inconclusive or meandering search process.

At Norman Broadbent we help companies across all sectors where there is some concern about the finer details of the requirements for a new hire, or the options for a new role, by undertaking market, business and leadership intelligence into defined market areas. With this type of report in hand, our clients get a view on how realistic their expectations are, with independent evidence which can be presented to the Board and other key stakeholders. The approach is anonymous, and provides the opportunity to pause and reflect on what is really needed, de-risking and futureproofing the hire. The cost saving is significant, and the output provides the foundations of your search, would you go that route. Ultimately, it enables realistic and unbiased expectations for both candidate and client from the start.

One of the most powerful things a headhunter can say in response to ‘Does this person exist?’: ‘I don’t know, let’s find out’. If you hear a different answer, beware.

If you would like to discuss Norman Broadbent’s Pre-Search Due Diligence approach in more detail please contact Jacqui Pinnell, Group head of Research ( or Ed Bransby-Zachary, Managing Director Client Services (

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