Using your network for Exec Search – a Good Idea?

There are enormous cost pressures on UK businesses right now, and any areas where PE-backed businesses could make savings, to bolster EDIDA, will inevitably become more attractive. In terms of senior hiring costs, looking to your own network for your next Director, CEO, or any other executive-level role seems like an obvious route to go. After all, referrals from people you know could be a great source for potential candidates, and tapping into your network can be a quick and easy way to find potential hires, but should you use your network for executive search?

Well, you should first think of the main goal of your search. Is it to simply fill a role? If so, your network is likely to find you someone quickly, but you may want to reconsider the impact that a standard recruitment approach can have on long-term business goals, especially for such high-level roles. Your primary objective should be to focus on the quality of the result and the quality of the person. It’s a much more focused process; not just about ‘finding someone’ but about ‘finding the best person’.

We’ve spoken already about some of the qualities that you should be looking for in selecting a candidate for a leadership role in your private equity-backed business, which you can read through here. Executive search is a value-adding professional service, it’s not a candidate or fee-driven commodity (unlike contingency recruitment agencies), so cutting corners and attempting to find someone from your own network can be wasteful of your time, and very costly in the long run for your business.

Think of executive search as an investment. Why do you need someone in this role? They’ll be performing business-critical tasks, and their leadership will have a direct impact on not only their responsibilities but also on their underlying teams, ultimately shifting the entire company. If this investment takes you 30 minutes by scrolling through LinkedIn, can you be sure that the person you’ve found has the right qualities to drive success?

If this investment is taken seriously, and many hours are spent finding and understanding candidates to discover the most about them and how they would drive performance in the role, you’re much more likely to see a return on this investment.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the drawbacks that will become apparent when relying on your network:

Limited size/scope

Your network is likely to be limited in terms of size and scope, which means that you won’t have access to the full range of potential candidates who are out there. This will add a hard limit on the pool of candidates you have at your disposal to choose from, and you won’t be able to find the best person to deliver on the needs of the business.

By looking to a dedicated executive search firm, limitations to size and scope no longer apply. Firms have an established network of contacts and relationships, many of which are built over many years, putting them in a strong position to contact these candidates and immediately begin the process of reviewing them against the requirements of the business, something which would prove difficult to those that don’t do it as part of their profession.

Our Elite Interim Network alone is the result of years of searching and reviewing candidates for not only their skills in their applicable fields, but also utilising our unique ‘Mindset Assessment’ which delves deeper into their traits and behaviours, giving us further insight into their compatibility for the desired role.

Time away from your role

Whilst you’re searching through your network to try to find the best candidate, it leaves your current responsibilities stretched. If you yourself are in a senior position, you’re likely to adversely affect your own performance whilst delving into your search.

If you partner with an executive search firm to help with your search, not only are you getting the above benefits, but you’re also allowing yourself the time and resources to focus on the critical business functions which are your responsibility. You’d be able to dedicate your time to your work, whilst we utilise our expertise to identify and engage with potential candidates. The benefits of this are only multiplied when looking for multiple positions to be filled, or for when time is an important factor and a position needs to be filled quickly, without corners being cut in the process.

Unexpected bias

Whether you recognise it or not, your network is likely to be biased, your network will be filled with people that are from similar backgrounds, education, and experience. This lack of diversity in your candidate pool not only adds further limitations on your size but will also directly affect their performance. Diverse candidates with different perspectives, backgrounds and education have the potential to deliver new and fresh ideas to your business, ideas that otherwise may not have been thought of by your current network.

Executive search firms adhere to strict processes, and as such, do not possess this bias. Our candidate pool is large and diverse, allowing for a much broader search that caters to a multitude of different backgrounds, skills, personalities and professional expertise.

Reluctance to approach

A common misconception that many companies have when they’re searching through their candidates is the thought that ‘We’ll never get them’. They want the person in their area, but they doubt they’d be able to attract them, so they don’t approach them at all.

Whilst this may prove partially true when searching by yourself, by using an executive search firm, you’re using experts in the field. Experts that have spent a number of years doing just that, approaching the best talent for that role. We have the confidence to pick up the phone, and the expertise to position the opportunity correctly, we add value in this way and enable businesses like yours to meet many more people than just ‘who’s available’.

We can get people that businesses simply don’t have the time or the resources to approach and provide access to people they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.

What makes Executive Search so much better?

We’ve been helping private equity-backed businesses find their best talent since 2008, our expertise is well-developed, and we understand the search process intimately. We have the knowledge and confidence to take calculated risks on our client’s behalf, and we have the time and resources to properly research, and effectively talk to potential candidates.

We can take the time to have meaningful and confidential conversations, tease out what might attract a person to a role – listen to what drives them, find out about their circumstances, all on behalf of the client whilst they continue with their critical business operations.

Our clients need that value-add, the confidentiality between candidates, and we can find out what is happening in the market overall. This is something many companies simply are unable to do, whether that is due to time or resource constraints, or just a lack of knowledge in the field. We’re able to provide that additional, valuable insight into their current market from an objective standpoint, benchmarking people versus the market.

For those still thinking of leveraging their network, that is fine, but it should be understood that your business will only get the people who are in your close market, friends of friends, but they will likely not be the best person for the job, and will likely not achieve the returns that another could. You will only know the technical ability of the person, and not their cultural fit, or their beneficial traits, that we find through our ‘Mindset Assessment’.

Another aspect to consider is the confidentiality side. Some clients wish to remain anonymous whilst searching through potential candidates, something that becomes infinitely more difficult if searches are handled in-house. We’re able to retain that confidentiality aspect, we can more or less run a full search without telling the candidates who the client is, and we’re still able to find the most suitable candidate for the job.

We can also retain the confidentiality piece; we can more or less run a full search without telling the candidates who the client is.



Overall, a search process is by no means easy, and shouldn’t be taken to lightly. It is a serious investment in the future of your business and should be looked at in the same light as any other investment. By cutting corners, you’re far more likely to see a negative return and undermine the potential that your business could achieve.


With an executive search firm, you’re able to:

  • Access a wider pool of potential candidates.
  • Build a more diverse and inclusive organisation.
  • Save valuable time, effort, and resources.
  • Ensure that your candidate is truly the best fit for the role.

Should you require support with your search, we are at hand. Please get in touch for a free and confidential chat.