There is a common misconception that if your company has an internal recruiting team, bringing in an external team would be in direct competition. On the contrary, many of the most successful executive searches are executed through a partnership between the internal and external recruiting teams.

Here’s why:

Undivided Attention

The company’s internal team is likely overwhelmed, with numerous roles to fill. They don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to focus all of their attention on one role – even if it’s a high priority search. This is especially true if the position has been posted online, as this typically results in a high volume of primarily unqualified resumes that need to be sifted through.

A retained executive search team can focus on the pain points your leadership is experiencing without distractions, identifying a broad spectrum of on-target candidates with proven experience in achieving the goals of the position. With an external firm in place to concentrate on this high priority search, your internal team is freed up to tend to other open roles.


Often, executives have preconceived notions about a company and its culture. As a result, they may dismiss an opportunity out of hand, particularly if the approach is coming directly from an HR function or internal recruiting team. An external firm is perceived as less biased and can help mitigate this issue, and therefore an opportunity presented by an external source is more likely to attract a candidate.


Recruiting C-level executives is very different from recruiting junior or mid-level employees. Despite the internal team’s extensive knowledge of the industry, the company, and the role, a retained search firm is usually more adept and experienced in the care and handling of senior executives. In addition, because of their extensive industry experience, your executive search partner will have a vast network of connections to leverage.


When a role is about to open up because an executive is planning to retire – (or if the individual is being let go) – that information is often not public. In these cases, an internal team should not be involved as the chance that sensitive information will leak out is greatly increased. An external firm is better able to maintain confidentiality. 

Because of the competitive nature of recruiting executives, an internal firm is not always able to spend the appropriate amount of time and energy on the search – nor do they always have the network or the tools to truly succeed. While an internal team may be the right place to begin a search, it’s important to recognize the value that a retained firm can provide as a complement to your internal team’s knowledge and expertise. When a search is executed by a retained firm with the support and guidance of an internal team, it becomes much easier to identify and secure the right leader for the culture of the company and the expectations of the role.

Elly Mazor, Principal