3 Key Differences Between Executive Search & Recruitment


When looking for a new hire, an organisation may require the services of either an executive search firm or a recruiter should they lack the resources they need themselves to do this, or they have attempted to hire previously and not found an adequate high-calibre candidate.

The firm looking to hire will take into account many different aspects including what role they’re looking for, the industry they’re in as well as the talent they want to find, before choosing whether to enlist the help of either an Executive Search firm like ourselves, or a recruiter.

Many people are often confused by the difference between executive search and recruitment and whilst they share the same objective overall, their strategies, methodology and business models differ…

The Level of Hire

More often than not, recruiters are brought in to find a candidate between junior level and lower-level management, with some recruitment agencies specialising in these particular levels when sourcing candidates.

Executive Search firms instead work to attract highly skilled and experienced senior managers and executives to fill important roles within an organisation. Should said organisation be looking to fill a position in a particularly niche industry, or they require someone with hard-to-find skills, an executive search firm would be the better choice.

Quantity vs Quality

Recruiters will typically identify a number of job seekers who would be right for the job, putting forward a handful of potential candidates to you for interview before leaving you to make your decision on whether the candidate is the perfect fit. Recruiters will typically find their candidates through sourcing active job seekers.

On the other hand, an Executive Search firm would instead find you the perfect match for not only the job, but for your company too whether the candidate in question is actively looking for a new role or not, recruiting from a pool of passive candidates. That’s why Executive Search Firms are sometimes known as head-hunters.


Although some recruiters may specialise in sourcing talent of a particular level, most recruiters work across a plethora of industries and sectors. Though over recent years, some have adapted to specialisation of industries, their business model still allows them to reach candidates of a wide network.

As Executive Search firms are sourcing a much higher level of talent, they are more likely to focus their efforts in particular sectors with specialist teams employed within it to serve specific functions with the right knowledge required.

Here at Douglas Stuart, we conduct Executive Search services in the Energy, Infrastructure and Supply Chain sectors. All of our team are highly experienced and knowledgeable on not only their dedicated sector but their service too. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to know more.