Executive recruiting can be like walking a tightrope while trying to juggle. If you drop any of the balls, it could be disastrous for your search and even cost you a client. While it’s probably not productive to go into all the things that can go wrong in an executive search, let’s just say that balancing the needs of clients with the need to develop authentic relationships with potential talent is crucial to the job.

In one sense, both your clients and the talent pool you’re working with or developing have the same goal—to fill an open position. But in other senses, the goals can be very different. Clients want to get the best person in their executive position. They desperately need the leadership of just the right person to help the company move forward, meet its business goals, and innovate.

Potential talent, on the other hand, wants to be the person who fills the position. For them, it’s about showcasing their talents and experience, beating out the competition, and getting you—the recruiter—on their side. As an executive recruiter, you’re in the middle of everything. That’s where the balance comes in.

The Eisenhower Principle

The problem of balance is nothing new. Former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower said in a famous speech, that he had “two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” In other words, there are some urgent things that have deadlines or consequences if they don’t get done right away. On the other hand, there are important things that need to get done every bit as much as the urgent ones, but you can’t always see the longer-term consequences of not doing them, or the longer-term benefits of doing them, because they aren’t as immediate.

The best way to decide how to spend your time is to look at the value a particular task gives to your recruiting efforts. The tasks that give the most value should be a higher priority than others. It’s important to be able to take a step back from your efforts to objectively assess what really makes things happen so you can concentrate on those things.

The Urgent vs. the Important

In executive recruiting, as in many other professions, there are always so many things to do, and many of them seem urgent. You spend a lot of time on the phone, but if you don’t, your searches won’t move forward. You need to research candidates to see if they are appropriate and make sure they don’t have any red flags before you present them. You need to meet with clients to keep them up-to-date on your progress. And you need to input all the information into your database or other tools so it can be used effectively.

Those are the more urgent things you probably need to do, but if you don’t spend time building your talent pool, all those other things will get more time-consuming and even more urgent. Here’s a little secret: the urgent things may urgently need to be done, but that doesn’t mean they need to be done by you. Many executive search firms now have research assistants to handle research and data entry.

Thrive TRM is a software tool that makes it easier to keep up with the urgent tasks of executive recruiting, do them faster, or automate them so you can focus more on important priorities and maintain the balance you need for effectiveness. Discover what Thrive TRM can do for search firms to help them maintain a balance between clients’ and candidates’ needs and be able to place candidates into executive jobs effectively.


Essential Skills of Successful Executive Recruiters