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Is My Executive Search Firm Too Small To Implement Specialist Software?

When is the right time to invest in specialist technology for your executive search firm?


It’s hard (if not impossible) to imagine a successful search firm running smoothly without an efficient, centralised technology platform. One that keeps everyone aligned and delivers value across the company – helping researchers find and engage passive candidates, consultants to manage and monitor new business, and management track activity across the firm and doing all this in a way that complies with the ever-changing privacy policy requirements.


But deciding precisely when is the right time to bring in this type of high-ROI software for your search firm start-up isn’t always easy.


Most start-up and early-phase search firm owners bump this kind of investment way down the list, leaving the decision when they’re “big enough” to need it.


So, when is that, exactly?


Small executive search firms often have the most to gain by deploying the right technology in their business early on. And in real terms, the investment in a specialist executive search software per user could be as little as the price of a daily cup of coffee!


Yes, it’s critical for large firms to have the right software – that remains true.


But it’s also a lot easier for boutique firms to reach size and scale if they run on the right technology from the beginning.







You need to free up time to concentrate on recruiting


Starting a business is never easy, and comes with a whole range of administrative tasks, taking up too much of your time. Do you really want to spend hours copying and pasting data from LinkedIn and various other online sources, or saving data manually from resumes/CVs – not forgetting to add consent from your contacts to use their data?


Specialist software is designed to follow the search process and to free up time at every step, cutting down administration time to a minimum. You will be wondering why it took you so long to invest in executive search software – and why you didn’t do it sooner!

Efficiency drives top-line growth


Many search firm owners fall into a trap of running a false ROI calculation regarding their businesses. It goes a little something like this: “Investment in a specialist executive search software system will help me manage my business better, but right now the priority is generating revenue. When I’ve built up enough cash, I’ll spend it on technology”.


In fact, viewing technology as an investment rather than a cost is a better way to approach it.


A software platform which helps search firms identify more candidates, engage and manage them better, build a customer base faster and run more assignments by cutting out mundane repetitive admin tasks accelerates the pace at which that much-desired growth rate can be built up.


Working with an inefficient platform and ‘saving to buy a CRM’ can be a major false economy that slows growth.




You can’t build without foundations


Following the same ‘bare bones’ approach to software, small search firms often use a combination of makeshift systems which enable their business to operate week by week. From Excel files to Google sheets, all sorts of workarounds are invented which try to keep team members on the same page and simulate efficiency.


If a search firm is serious about growing, however, there soon comes a day when these home-made processes no longer cut it.


Collaboration stutters, inefficiencies emerge, files are mislaid, data insights cannot be leveraged and crucial information goes missing.


When it is time to migrate to a specialist executive search platform, it requires an entire re-working of the business processes.


Executive search firms which move early to build their business on a software system that can support their future expansion face none of these issues and enjoy a faster growth curve as a result.

You don’t need headcount growth to see tech ROI


Some search firms don’t have any ambition to grow beyond a certain point. It could be three founding partners; it could be one.


Boutique firms often feel that specialist executive search software is a needless extravagance – a purchase to be made by businesses who dream of having 20, 30 or 100 executive recruiters.


In fact, even single practitioners can significantly increase their billings when armed with the right technology (as we’ve seen over and over again).


Ultimately, it comes down to a few simple equations – all anchored in how many high-quality client-candidate introductions the business can make each week, or each month.


Any platform which empowers the user to create more matches gives them the ability to increase their fee generation, and it only takes a modest increase to more than cover the costs of the right executive search software.




You must comply with data protection regulations such as GDPR



Currently, storing your client and candidate data in various spreadsheets is just not going to be good enough. Imagine forgetting your laptop containing such data on public transport, risking receiving business-destroying fine? Government staff in the UK have managed to leave more than 600 laptops, phones and USBs on trains in the last four years.


That’s bad enough, but for a start-up trying to hit the ground running, nothing would be worse to having to declare a data breach with no demonstrable steps taken to ensure compliance with data protection laws.


You need to be able to track consent from candidates and clients, as well as send regular updates to confirm they are still allowing you to use their data for recruitment purposes. Doing this manually would be extremely time consuming, not counting the fact that your potential clients will likely ensure to verify that your business complies with existing regulations.



All good software providers will include data protection management modules to deal with this issue efficiently and intuitively. So, when is the right time to invest in specialist technology for your executive search firm? Most likely, yesterday!


Is my executive search firm too small to implement specialist software?

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