Two recruiters of an executive search company in Tokyo comparing notes

Image courtesy: Unsplash

You will come across several executive search companies in Tokyo’s highly competitive executive search market. However, finding one of the region’s top companies for executive search that aligns best with your company’s needs and culture can be difficult.

To find the right partner who can meet your C-level hiring needs, you should weigh in the available options, ask the right questions relevant to meeting your talent needs, and decide if a particular executive search firm is the right fit for your company, its culture, and metrics for hiring success.

For instance, to address your talent requirements, some questions that you need to ask your shortlisted executive hiring firms are:

  • How do you leverage the strength of your networks and proficiency with modern digital technology platforms to conduct outreach and perform a search?
  • What’s the internal team model followed by you to conduct and support an executive search?
  • How wide a net can you cast, concerning “off-limit” target companies that were a result of earlier search engagements?

Whether you are a business leader or in charge of the company’s HR, evaluating the current models available for executive search partnerships is vital. You should also assess the advantages and disadvantages of your shortlisted executive search firms’ size, reputation, and the kind of partnership you expect from them in today’s highly competitive global talent market to arrive at the final decision. 

It pays to ensure your shortlisted executive search partners have the requisite technology expertise, network, and ability to reach top talent prior to confirming your commitment to work with any one of them.

If you aren’t sure how to find Tokyo’s best executive search companies and pick one from the lot that best suits your requirements, we bring you the top seven hacks. Read on to learn how you can choose the right partner to achieve your executive recruitment objectives.

1.     Learn to Target the Right Recruiters

Tokyo’s top executive search companies tend to specialise. While some large ones may serve multiple industries, other smaller ones could have a more targeted, narrower focus, where they emphasise a particular job skill or a single industry. You shouldn’t waste your efforts or money on a company that doesn’t recruit in your domain and may have fewer connections than you do.

Whether you are looking for a large firm as your C-level recruitment partner to support your hiring needs or a boutique firm specialising in specific industries, you need to target the ones that have a successful track record of finding candidates for businesses similar to what you are trying to recruit for.  

If you want to search online, you can use the term “executive recruiters” plus the industry or profession you serve like “IT,” “CEO,” “CFO,” etc., into your chosen search engine. For example, if you are looking to find Tokyo’s best executive search companies that can help you recruit a competent CFO, your online search terms could be “executive recruiters CFO” or “CFO executive search company.”

You could even ask for referrals from your professional network. Taking a look at online directories for other recruiters specialising in the desired niche could also help. Searching social media networks and review sites too could help you shortlist a few executive recruiters, thus giving you a foundation to start and refine your search for the best-suited executive search agency.

2.     Leverage Targeted Online Search and Your Network to Go Location-Specific

When searching online to locate a suitable executive search company, you can use a combination of the positions you seek to fill and the location to localise your search, such as “executive recruiters hospitality Tokyo” or “Tokyo executive recruiters compliance remote” or “IT executive recruiters Tokyo.”

If you have a wide professional network spread across countries and continents, which you plan to leverage for finding an executive recruiter for your company, you should specifically ask for referrals in the region. Though this may seem obvious, you need to ensure prospective firms operate in the right geographical area.

Even though your shortlisted Tokyo-based executive search partners may source candidates from other areas beyond the country’s geographical boundaries, familiarity with the region your company operates in will help the recruiters function more effectively.

When localising your search, you should also focus on finding headhunters who aim to proactively source the right candidate on behalf of your company. It’s better to steer clear of companies that simply forward resumes from applicants. Instead, target exec recruiting firms that understand your company’s hiring needs and interests and work accordingly to find the top talent, either locally or globally.   

3.     Understand the Executive Search Company’s Processes and Systems

During the initial conversation stage, you should steer things toward getting the desired information so you can make a decision. Here are some guiding questions, which you can ask your shortlisted executive search companies to understand their processes:

  • What’s the method you use for sourcing candidates?
  • How do you vet potential candidates?
  • What’s your industry experience?
  • What’s your average time to fill similar positions?

A company that answers these questions confidently, offers you useful insights into its processes, and facilitates follow-up questions should figure high on your list of potential hires.

When trying to select an executive search company, understanding its systems is equally important. During your initial conversations, it will help to try and get a feel of the systems and techniques the company uses. For instance, finding answers to whether the company is strictly rooted in traditional sourcing techniques or is responsive and reactive to modern technology and emerging industry trends could be a decisive factor.  

Though traditional techniques aren’t essentially problematic, executive recruiting companies that are reluctant to engage with the modern realities of the industries you serve are likely to struggle to deliver the desired results or even remain relevant in the long run.

Asking questions regarding the use of customised software and systems is another excellent way to assess the company’s approach to recruitment. Tokyo’s top executive search companies that employ bespoke solutions are better positioned to alleviate common industry pain points. They also have enhanced power at their fingertips to find the right candidates for your business’s C-level positions.

4.     Take a Closer Look at Their Thought Leadership

An executive search company can make a world of difference to your company’s executive search process with its thought leadership. This makes it vital to take a closer look at their thought leadership as it makes a telling impact on how the intensive process of a high-stakes search is handled.

You will notice that accomplished firms have vital things to say and are likely to invest energy and time in thought leadership. Not sure what it means? Thought leadership refers to the expression of ideas and perspectives, which demonstrate a company’s expertise in a specific domain, area, or topic.

Thought leaders inspire innovation, offer unique guidance, and influence others. By browsing the output of your shortlisted company’s executive search consultants, you can get a better idea of whether the values and beliefs they advocate in their thought leadership are in line with your company’s values, corporate persona, and expectations.

To dig deeper into the thought leadership of an executive search firm, you can take a look at their executive search recruiters’ keynote speeches, written contributions to their own website and other industry publications, social media profiles, slide decks, and more.

5.     Conduct Interviews and a Thorough Evaluation

Once you have shortlisted the best potential executive search companies in Tokyo to work with, you should interview them via a brief 30- to 40-minute call. Instead of having multiple individual calls, try to schedule these calls as a committee where you speak to a few people from the prospective companies as a group. Individual or one-on-one calls could give rise to biases and not let all members of your company build a bond with prospective firms, which is why it’s better to stick to group calls.

During the interview, you can ask the shortlisted companies some of these questions:

  • Can you introduce your executive search company and tell us why we should work with you?
  • Can you describe your search process?
  • How do you find and screen your candidates?
  • How will you support our business success after we have made the placement?
  • What technology and tools do you use in the search process?
  • What’s your overall success rate of filling the C-level position within the search schedule?
  • What are your charges?
  • What reporting will you provide us with during the search?
  • Do you offer any search guarantee?
  • What’s your approach and experience in terms of creating a diverse and successful talent pipeline?
  • What expenses do you charge for?
  • Who would be our direct contact once we start working with you?

After you have got answers to these interview questions, you should conduct a thorough evaluation. Given below are some of the key parameters on which you should evaluate Tokyo’s executive hiring firms:

  • Knowledge of the industry/specialisation
  • Pricing
  • Search process
  • Existing candidate network
  • Responsiveness (the time they typically take to respond/schedule)
  • Networking capability
  • History of success
  • Professionalism
  • Ability to create a diverse candidate pool to meet your C-level hiring requirements

Interviews and assessments will help you to make an informed decision and choose an executive search company that becomes the perfect partner in your journey of business growth.

6.     Sign the Final Contract

Once you have selected an exec search firm, sign a contract followed by a kickoff call to get things started. The preliminary meeting you hold with their people should focus on sharing the information they need and outline what you should expect from them.

If you still have any questions to ask or share any new developments, you can do that as well. While signing the contract, you should be careful about the following areas:

  • Provisions or guarantees on offer in case the person you hire isn’t successful.
  • The total fees the firm charges and how they bill for expenses.
  • How travel costs for candidates will be handled and if they will be billed back to us.
  • Particulars about the people you will be working with at the exec search company to find suitable candidates. 
  • The deliverables they include such as a new position description, search timeline, and/or salary review.
  • The terms for cancelation

You should also take note of how responsive they are while signing the contract and how long it takes them to get things done. Keeping a close eye on how they operate will indicate what it will be like to work with them.

7.     Understand Assigned Roles

Your company should have some of your business’s most influential board members on the search committee to oversee the proceedings. However, you should choose the people carefully, or else, a conflict of interest and hiring biases can make the entire process difficult and sluggish.

If you struggle to select members for the search committee, you can ask your executive search partner to help you through these decisions with their suggestions. Though engaging as many of your board’s leadership as part of your search committee is the best path to success, you should also consider several other vital aspects. People who show your company in the best possible light, can keep confidential information to themselves and carefully evaluate the potential hires without prejudices are the ones you should engage.

It’s also equally important to trust your executive search partner in Tokyo and believe they are working to help you find the top talent for C-level positions. You should help them leverage your organization’s knowledge and resources to empower their search process.

Final Words

Delivering an exceptional search experience doesn’t happen unless it’s ingrained into the DNA and the operating ethos of your chosen executive search company. So, use the tips above to find a company that focuses on delivering a stellar search experience for your business. If you still struggle to pick one from Tokyo’s top executive hiring firms, you can rely on us at InHunt World.

Want to discuss your executive hiring needs right away? We’re all ears! Reach us today!

This article was written by