Benefits of Using an Executive Search Firm

Posted by The Jacobson Group

Benefits of Using an Executive Search FirmIt’s no secret we’re currently experiencing a candidate-driven market. Overall U.S. unemployment is at a near-50-year low and within the insurance industry, there are more job openings than qualified individuals to fill them. As the war for talent continues and Baby Boomers retire, many insurers are challenged with recruiting new leaders in an increasingly competitive market.

Often, these roles require unique skill sets and new types of leadership qualities, making it challenging to find professionals who are a match from both the talent and culture standpoints. Not surprisingly, our 2019 Q1 Insurance Labor Outlook Study uncovered that executive roles are tied with technology as the most difficult to fill. However, leaving long-term vacancies or bringing on the wrong talent can be detrimental, both financially and culturally, for organizations.

Recently, we shared considerations for selecting a professional recruiting partner. In an industry facing widespread retirement at the leadership level, it’s also important to understand the benefits of retaining insurance executive recruiters and how these partnerships can help fill crucial positions. Here are a few reasons why to use an executive search firm.  


Consultative ApproachConsultative Approach

Executive search firms typically provide much more than just a slate of candidates. These firms can also serve as advisers, helping to define role requirements, delineate strategic objectives and provide an accurate view of the recruiting landscape. Search firms may also help your team create compelling position profiles that focus on necessary skills, while appealing to a broad range of qualified talent. Are there any barriers for filling a position? Any cultural issues or concerns that need to be explored? What transferable skills and roles should be considered? How does this position fit into larger succession planning efforts? The right firm will help you answer these questions and focus your efforts to be most effective.

Access to an Extensive Talent Pool

Reputable search firms have unique access to networks of industry professionals, which are often continually evolving and replenishing. As a result, the right search firm’s connections extend far past those of an internal HR department. This is especially true for niche firms, which have spent years building networks of referrals and interacting with professionals of all levels both in and out of the industry. Their exclusive access to the highest quality talent, coupled with a strong industry reputation, opens the door to reach candidates who may have otherwise been inaccessible.

Presentation of Well-Vetted Candidates

Presentation of Well-Vetted CandidatesPart of the benefit of using an executive search firm is its ability to align with your needs and serve as a laser-focused extension of your organization. It’s important to bring an executive search firm in early on in the process so they can take a comprehensive look at the overall candidate pool. This enables the search team to develop a strategic plan that includes passive candidates. A true search partner can then evaluate these candidates based on business and technical expertise, cultural fit, soft skills, and other necessary criteria. The result is a slate of candidates who are well-suited to the position and ready for the hiring organization’s own internal review. Search teams may also assist with on-site interviews and evaluations, reference checks, and negotiation of compensation packages and start dates.

Extensive Insurance Industry Knowledge

Effective executive search firms, especially those that specialize in a niche industry like insurance, have a unique insider’s perspective of the marketplace. They frequently attend industry events, serve as talent thought leaders and are well-respected members of the insurance community. In addition to providing unparalleled insight, this often means they are well-known and respected throughout the industry, making it likely candidates will be willing to hear what they have to say about a position and company. Further, a knowledgeable consultant should be able to provide insight into the talent needs required to meet objectives, taking industry trends into account. 

Experience with Similar PositionsExperience with Similar Positions

In addition to a deep and broad network, quality executive search firms bring extensive experience recruiting for specific positions. For instance, in the past five years, Jacobson’s executive search practice has conducted more than 50 insurance industry CEO searches. By retaining an executive search firm – especially one with a solid history and foundation – you are gaining a wealth of experience and lessons learned. While your team may only hire for a chief operating officer or chief technology officer once every five or ten years, successful search firms have vast experience uncovering talent for these roles and can provide insight on motivators, challenges and competitive offers, among other key topics.


When determining questions to ask when interviewing executive search firms, make sure you understand the full extent of the relationship, outside of simply bringing forth candidates. Additionally, your partnership shouldn’t end after an offer is accepted. The right firm will help ensure a smooth transition and provide guidance and support as the new leader assimilates into your organization.

Hiring for executive-level positions is a rigorous process that can take a toll on internal teams. To find top talent, job postings, employee referrals and a company’s internal network may not be enough. In today’s highly competitive market, it’s vital organizations are able to reach passive talent, who may be happy in their roles and not actively looking. By partnering with the right executive search firm, your team will gain a thorough understanding of the marketplace, reach a deep and broad pool of talent, and be set up to hire high performing executives who can lead your organization into a successful future.