Key Differences Between Recruitment and Executive Search When Undertaking Executive Recruitment


Conveying recruitment and executive search

When it comes to executive recruitment in Brisbane, there’s no denying the importance of tailoring strategies to meet the unique needs of businesses and candidates in this vibrant market. Unlike traditional recruitment, executive search in Brisbane demands a specialised approach that goes beyond simply filling vacancies—it’s about identifying and attracting top-tier talent capable of driving organisational success in dynamic industries like resources, construction, finance, and technology.

The fast-paced business landscape means that executive recruitment agencies in Brisbane play a pivotal role in helping organisations navigate the complexities of talent acquisition and retention. Leveraging their deep understanding of the local market dynamics and industry trends, these agencies craft customised recruitment solutions that align with the strategic objectives and cultural nuances of their clients.

One of the distinguishing factors between a standard recruitment agency and an executive search firm lies in the type of candidates targeted. While recruitment agencies may focus on filling a wide range of positions across various levels of the organisation, executive search firms specialise in sourcing C-suite executives, senior leaders, and niche specialists who possess the expertise and vision to propel businesses forward in competitive markets like Brisbane. To help you decide which approach is correct for your business and specific role requirements below we’ve broken down the differentiators when looking to engage executive recruitment firms in Brisbane.

Active vs. Passive Candidates

One of the fundamental differences between recruitment and executive search firms who undertake executive recruitment in Brisbane is their approach to sourcing candidates. Recruitment agencies are primarily reactive when searching for talent and although there are exceptions, their focus is usually on active jobseekers who:

  • Are applying for live roles
  • Contacting the agency directly
  • Posting their resume onto CV databases such as Indeed or Seek

Although not their core target, good recruiters will also include an element of proactive search via their immediate networks, databases, or referrals. This proactive approach involves actively seeking out potential candidates who may not be actively searching for new opportunities but possess the requisite skills and experience sought by the client. Through tapping into their extensive networks and leveraging advanced sourcing techniques, recruiters can identify passive candidates who may be open to exploring new career opportunities if presented with the right opportunity.

However, for executive search and positions like CEOs, CFOs, and Finance Directors, candidates are typically not actively seeking a new role. These high-level executives are often deeply entrenched in their current positions, steering the strategic direction of their organisations and driving business growth. As such, traditional job postings and reactive recruitment methods are unlikely to attract the caliber of talent required for these critical leadership roles. Instead, executive recruiters must adopt a more strategic and personalised approach to talent acquisition. This may involve discreetly reaching out to potential candidates through confidential channels, such as trusted industry contacts or executive networks. By positioning the opportunity in a compelling and tailored manner, recruiters can pique the interest of passive candidates and initiate confidential discussions about potential career opportunities.

How they Partner with the Client

When comparing recruitment and executive search, another major difference is the way that agencies work alongside your business, whether that’s contingent or retained.

Recruiters are generally engaged on a contingent basis, which is better suited to high volume or lower level roles. In contrast, executive recruitment firms in Brisbane purely work on retained projects. This is primarily due to the time and energy spent on a C-Suite appointment, with more of a mutual time commitment from both parties. It also tends to be more of a resource-intensive approach, with a range of talent mapping and sourcing tactics applied. At a senior level, there is more publicly-available information as well as established networks to tap into, so extensive research forms a larger part of the search for the perfect candidate. For the same reasons, executive recruitment businesses in Brisbane that focus on specialist roles (like OnTalent) and recruiters that focus on mid to high level positions, will generally only engage on an exclusive or retained basis.

Different Methods of Engagement

  • Contingent (non-exclusive) recruitment is a model where recruiters are often competing against multiple agencies, and only charge a fee upon successful placement.
  •  Contingent (exclusive) recruitment works in the same way as the above – the difference being that recruiters will only take on the project if their search is carried out exclusively.
  • When working on a retained basis (as is common with executive search), employers are charged a ‘fee for service’, often paid in several instalments at key stages of the process.

Within Brisbane’s competitive landscape, executive recruitment agencies serve as invaluable tools to find top leadership talent. Through their extensive networks, expertise, tailored approach, and utilisation of technology, these agencies harness strategic executive recruitment practices, helping businesses find the transformative leaders they need to thrive and succeed.

At OnTalent we specialise in uncovering top leaders for businesses in Brisbane and beyond through our executive search and retained permanent recruitment services. Contact us today on 07 3305 5800 to learn how we can partner with you to elevate your executive recruitment efforts and drive organisational excellence.

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