Top 4 Qualities Needed to Excel in Executive Research

An Executive Researcher, also commonly known as an Associate, Analyst or Search Coordinator, plays a vital role in the executive search process for both executive search firms and in-house talent acquisition teams. They lay the groundwork for a successful search by collaborating to develop a search strategy, finding and connecting with referral sources, generating a list of candidate names, qualifying candidates, managing gatekeepers and pitching the executive-level position. Additionally, they’re often the first in an organization to contact potential candidates, meaning they make the first impression for the executive search firm or company.  

To excel in executive research, we’ve identified four core characteristics one needs to stand out and contribute to a successful strategy:  

1. Proactive 

Executive researchers are accountable for the search, meaning that the initiative they take in the early stages of a project can dramatically impact the outcome. Holding off on a search, waiting long periods of time between calling prospects, and not implementing a plan can lead to a project pileup and failed assignments.  

To avoid such a negative outcome, an executive researcher should be a self-starter and proactively drive the search strategy forward. They should be ready to dive into a search as soon as it’s assigned by generating a list of prospects and referral sources, developing an outreach strategy, and making contact with potential candidates.  

2. Tenacious 

A researcher should be tenacious when reaching out to passive and active candidates. Being an executive researcher consists of constant outreach: phone calls, emails and direct messages. It often involves several attempts to reach a prospect or get through a gatekeeper. They shouldn’t give up at the first rejection but instead, be steadfast in their efforts to actively connect with candidates.   

Often in executive search, the top candidates are not actively looking for new opportunities. By remaining persistent in their work, researchers should actively try to understand candidates’ motivations and wants in a role, and actively listen even if the initial pitch receives a “no.” It is imperative for researchers to seek and build relationships in this profession.  

Although a researcher sets the strategy and devises an outreach plan at the onset of an assignment, a search plan can change at any moment. Researchers also must be adaptable and ready to change their plans according to which methods are working and which aren’t. 

3. Organized & Detail-Oriented

Unorganized researchers may find themselves at a loss for purpose. Without a plan or timeline, researchers won’t have a clear understanding of their day-to-day tasks. They also may not know which prospects to reach out to or follow up with, which may cause assignment delays.  

An executive researcher must be organized to pursue prospects. A well-scheduled calendar and a list of daily to-dos can keep them on track toward placement. Being organized will help them coordinate and stick to pitching and follow-up plans that outline who you’re pitching to, when you’re pitching to them, and how you will follow up with each individual.  

Being detail-oriented goes hand in hand with being organized. Executive researchers are tasked with getting to know both clients and candidates. To do so, they must have several conversations with the clients to understand what they’re looking for in terms of role requirements and qualifications. They also must conduct conversations with candidates to understand their motivations and whether they’re ready to make a move. In addition, researchers must build connections with referral sources to obtain information on the best-fit candidates.  

When completing such relationship-building tasks, a researcher must be detail-oriented by keeping records of conversations and taking notes during calls. This allows them to recall and bring up details in future conversations to build trust.  

4. Personable/Strong Communicator 

While technology is a powerful tool for executive researchers, strong communication skills are a must-have for high-level/high-impact assignments. Executive research heavily relies on communication: engaging prospects, managing gatekeepers and connecting with referral sources. Through each communication, whether email, LinkedIn message, phone call or text message, researchers must remain polite and professional. Having a personable demeanor and an open, engaging personality are key to cultivating trusted relationships, which may lead to placements. 

In addition to natural communication skills, researchers must learn and understand how to communicate with a variety of cultures, especially if they are working on global searches. A successful researcher can navigate cultural nuances through all communication channels. 

How the Certificate in Executive Research Can Grow Your Skills  

AESC’s Certificate in Executive Research is an industry-recognized credential that over 100 firms worldwide have utilized to advance the skills of their research-focused talent acquisition professionals. The program, which is open to researchers, associates, analysts, in-house recruiters, talent acquisition managers and team leaders, has three parts, including a self-led foundation course, a live expert forum and a final exam.  

Throughout the course, researchers will hone their skills in several areas, including search strategy, sourcing, interviewing and qualifying, referral sourcing and managing the gatekeeper. The course’s interactive portion and role-play exam will also help researchers tap into the core four skills every researcher needs to succeed.  

Not only does the course provide professional development, but it also offers researchers a chance to stand out from the rest and add value to their organization and/or clients.  

Executive researchers interested in upskilling and executive search firms interested in providing upskilling opportunities for their team of researchers can enroll in the Certificate in Executive Research today. Custom solutions are available. 

Enroll Today