In the world of recruiting, misconceptions often run rampant when talking about executive search firms. Despite the value that dedicated executive recruitment firms bring to the table, many organizations continually question whether outsourcing a high-level executive or C-suite search is worth the cost.

To educate our audience on the advantages of aligning with a proven executive recruiting firm, I’m here to disprove some of the most common misconceptions about executive recruiting. Here are four of the most common myths related to executive search firms—and why they are all untrue.

Why Do Companies Use Executive Search Firms?

Myth #1: Anyone can execute an executive search by using a job board.

With an abundance of digital job boards available on the market today, many companies assume that posting their position to a site like ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn can help discover their next executive hire. What these organizations fail to realize is the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into an executive search. When recruiting for a C-suite position, the best-fit candidates are not usually found on the job market. Rather, these individuals are typically high-quality professionals currently employed by another company—which makes finding and recruiting them all the more difficult.

By partnering with a proven executive search provider, your organization will gain access to a comprehensive network of passive candidates—ones that have been carefully sourced and screened. The search firm will help you to engage with these individuals and sell them on the role. If quality of hire is atop your list of priorities, it pays to connect with an executive search firm that can deliver upon important recruitment objectives.

Myth #2: Executive search firms are pricey and provide low return on investment.

It comes as no surprise that executive search firms charge a premium fee for their premium services. But when you consider the cost of making an improper hire—particularly at the executive level—and the crippling effect that it can have on your organization, aligning with a dedicated search firm is a no-brainer.

Instead of relying on your internal recruiting resources to source, recruit, and hire a qualified executive candidate, it pays to outsource this function entirely. By choosing the right executive search partner, your provider will present a suite of finalists—often paired with behavioral and predictive performance assessment results—for your organization to review. This data can prove to be a critical indicator of the candidate that will align best with both the role and your organization as a whole. 

Myth #3: Internal TA teams can produce the same caliber candidates as an executive search firm.

“We have a team of internal recruiters. Why do we need to align ourselves with an outside firm to do the same work?”

Questions like these are frequently posed to executive search firms. Ultimately, the answer lies in the complexity of the search. It’s likely that your internal TA team is primarily focused on filling lower-level positions within your organization—roles that can be easily replaced. When executing on a search for a C-suite position, however, the nuances that accompany this recruiting effort can be entirely foreign to internal recruitment teams. Not only will recruiters need excellent sourcing skills, but they’ll also require superior salesmanship to sell the candidate on the role—especially if it is at a competitive organization. By aligning with an executive search firm, you’ll gain access to a team of proven executive recruiters that know what it takes to get the job done.

Myth #4: A contingent search firm offers the same value as a retained search firm.

For starters, contingent and retained search firms operate on two different pricing structures. While contingent providers only receive a fee if the candidate that they present is hired, retained search firms work with their clients every step of the way throughout the recruitment process.

If your organization is looking for a search partner that will ensure the success of your executive hire, look no further than the retained model. After getting acclimated to your company’s needs and objectives, your search provider will be diligent in selecting right-fit candidates to address your hiring needs. To help facilitate more effective recruiting results, be transparent about the type of skillset that you’re ideally looking for. This will ultimately help the executive recruiters in carving out an effective talent strategy that’ll find the right candidate to round out your C-suite.


The value that executive search providers can bring to any company can’t be understated. When looking to fill an executive-level position within your organization, aligning with a proven executive recruitment firm can be the difference between choosing the perfect candidate and making the wrong hire. With help from professional search experts, your C-suite team will improve its performance and optimize your company’s success.

Learn more about the difference between contingent and retained search.

This blog was written by TalentRise’s Managing Director Pete Petrella.