Executive Search vs Management Consulting

11th May 2022

When explaining to candidates the differences between a career in contingent/agency and in-house recruitment versus one in Executive Search a good place to start is asking them to consider the Management Consulting profession. Executive Search Consultants work in the same way as Management Consultants. They are both paid a Consulting fee or Retainer by a client to solve issues, create value, maximize growth and improve business performance. Executive Search consultants do this by creating world-leading, highly effective, impactful leadership teams to support their clients in achieving these gains.

The stakes for both professions are high. It is critical to get leadership at the Executive and Board levels right. If an Executive Search firm gets this wrong, it can be very costly to their client and can really tarnish a firm’s reputation. However, if the firm gets it right the successful hire serves as a shop window to other prospective clients looking for an Executive Search firm to consult on its leadership challenges.

Equal to Management Consultants, Executive Search Consultants possess deep and wide-ranging expertise learned and developed over many years. For the Executive Search Consultant, this will be in the industries, functional roles, and geographies in which their clients operate. There is always huge competition for talent at the c-level and board. A well-trained, well-networked Executive Search Consultant knows their terrain. This ensures the leadership hire is usually the right one. Successful hires at this level can change the course of a firm’s trajectory for the better. A management consultant has the same approach to their given task in their area of expertise and contributes in equal measure to their client’s needs. Both professions are often seen working in tandem to help achieve these desired results.

Drawing these comparisons between the two professions is often a great way to help candidates understand more about a career in executive search.