Executive Search

Executive Search Recruitment

Tailored Executive Search

Our executive search services are tailored to each individual role, enabling you to secure the talent you have been looking for at a faster pace.

  • Tailored Executive Search with agile processes
  • Reliable excellence for over 20 years
  • Leading the way in hiring diverse talent
Contact us now to begin shortlisting.

A search that is as unique as the talent you are seeking to secure.

Executive Search and Headhunting


Practicus has been supporting organisations like yours with exceptional executive search services for over two decades. We deliver experienced, diverse and proven leaders, ensuring you feel confident in your choice throughout the process. Our long-established practice is staffed with experienced headhunters, coupled with a proven track record of placing highly effective top-level executives. Our depth of experience and breadth of connections positions us ideally to meet your specific executive leadership needs.

Moreover, we understand the importance of empathy and discretion in dealing with sensitive and confidential situations. Our team is adept at navigating complex dynamics with care and professionalism, ensuring that all interactions are handled with the utmost respect and confidentiality. At Practicus, we are committed to not only finding the right leaders for your organisation but also to supporting you with the sensitivity and understanding that such critical decisions require.


We are not just committed to providing diverse leadership talent. We are actually delivering it!

The results of multiple surveys show that we are leading the industry for candidate diversity – ensuring you have the pick of the very best available talent, gain new perspectives and improve representation in the board room.

Find out more: Practicus candidate diversity

Key findings of Practicus candidate placement diversity

Practicus’s unique approach

Tailored search solutions

Practicus’s tailored, transparent and insightful approach sets us apart in the executive search industry, fostering genuine connections and delivering exceptional leadership solutions.

Executive Search

Second-to-none communications

Practicus’s approach to executive search is marked by a commitment to honesty and transparency, earning consistent positive feedback from clients and candidates alike. They value our credibility in challenging the status quo and our ability to ask meaningful questions that elicit insightful responses.

This enables us to identify candidates who:

  • Meet the needs of all relevant stakeholders, not just the most influential voices.
  • Add value beyond the initial role specification, such as addressing additional business challenges effectively.
We ensure contact points at every step of the process – providing rich data on the search to date – alongside regular catchups at a frequency to suit your needs.  

Agile Search with rich data insight

Unlike traditional executive search firms, which rely on extensive teams of researchers and a standard template to identify potential candidates, we operate with agility and a deep understanding of personal and professional motivations.

We use data and insight at every step of the process to better tailor the search and gain a deeper understanding of candidates and their fit with your needs. Asking the right probing questions often results in our candidates remarking, “That’s a good question! No-one has asked me that before.” Our clients echo this sentiment, frequently commending our line of questioning as excellent.

We believe truly understanding a candidate’s backstory and their passions outside of work is not only humanising but useful in better identifying the right talent for your role and your culture. 

As the Head of our Executive Search team puts it, “A good headhunter is insanely curious.”

Humanising Executive Search

Feedback consistently highlights our ability to humanise the executive search process. In an industry often criticised for jargon and superficiality, many clients appreciate our straightforward, credible and grounded approach. This resonates particularly well with executives who have non-traditional backgrounds and who have got where they are through success rather than talking a good game. Clients also appreciate our ability to engage them as individuals, using plain language and addressing their unique needs. They view us as providers of real people for real leadership roles.

Commitment to Diversity

Diversity is a critical consideration at the executive level, and we are making notable strides in this area, with tangible results to show. Our talent insights are becoming increasingly valuable, enhancing our tailored search process and contributing significantly to our success.

Tailor your executive search today

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michael gater image

Michael Gater

Head of Delivery

Michael heads up our Executive Search practice. His job title is Head of Delivery because that is exactly what he and his team do for our clients…. deliver. 

Executive Search London

Executive Search London

From the largest multinationals to the smallest startups, clients turn to our executive search London practice to find exceptional leaders. 

Selecting Practicus for executive search in London can greatly benefit your headhunting too.

You can leverage our extensive local knowledge and robust network identify and secure top-tier talent. We provide a tailored, consultative service and act as a true strategic partner – dedicated to ethical and transparent operations throughout the executive search process. 


Looking for your next executive role?

See our candidate section:

What is Executive Search?

Executive search is a specialised recruitment service for sourcing candidates for senior, executive and other highly-specialised positions. It involves a comprehensive process that includes identifying, evaluating and engaging with potential candidates, often those who are not actively seeking new employment but whose skills and experience are perfect for the role. The aim is to find the best possible individual for high-level positions that have a significant impact on the company’s success.

What does an executive search do?

An executive search serves to identify, attract and secure individuals for senior-level and specialised positions. This process goes beyond conventional recruitment by focusing on a targeted approach to find highly qualified candidates who may not be actively seeking new opportunities. It involves thorough research, networking, and assessment to ensure that the chosen candidates align with the strategic goals and culture of the hiring organisation. The aim is to facilitate the placement of exceptional talent that can drive the company forward and contribute significantly to its long-term success.

Paid Search Executives vs. Contingency

Paid Executive Search involves a retainer fee, whereas Contingency Executive Search is payment-based upon successful placement. 

Once upon a time, Paid Search Executives guaranteed a more thorough and exclusive search for high-level candidates than Contingency Search. Increasingly though, that retainer fee is harder to justify due to two reasons.

Firstly, there have been significant improvements around Contingency Search offerings and even some features that Paid Search Executives struggle to match, particularly around speed given the increasing notice periods of top talent. 

Secondly, data from the Executive Search Information Exchange reveals that around 40% of traditional search approaches fail. In short, it becomes difficult to justify the retainer payments when the end result is no-one worth hiring. 

For all these reasons,  the underlying business model of “Paid Search” or “Contingency Search” is no longer a reliable guide to where your Search is safest or where you’re gaining greatest value. The best advice is to look at the offerings and track records of individual firms to make your decision.

What is another name for executive search?

Alternative names for executive search include headhunting, senior-level recruitment and C-suite recruitment.

What is the difference between staffing and executive search?

Executive search specialises in recruiting high-level executives and typically involves a targeted, bespoke approach to fill senior positions, whereas staffing encompasses a broader scope of recruitment services aimed at filling various levels of positions across an organisation with a more generalised approach.

What are the steps for executive search?

The steps of executive search differ by firm (see our own higher up the page) but common elements typically include:

  1. Defining the Role: Understanding the specific requirements and expectations of the position.
  2. Research and Strategy Development: Identifying potential candidates through industry research and networking.
  3. Outreach: Approaching potential candidates discreetly to gauge interest and suitability.
  4. Screening and Assessment: Conducting interviews and assessments to evaluate the competencies and fit of candidates.
  5. Shortlisting: Presenting the most suitable candidates to the client for consideration.
  6. Client Interviews: Facilitating interviews between the client and candidates.
  7. Offer and Negotiation: Assisting with the offer process and negotiating terms between the client and the chosen candidate.
  8. Onboarding and Follow-up: Supporting the candidate’s integration into the organisation and providing follow-up to ensure a successful placement.

Do executive search firms charge?

Yes, executive search firms typically charge for their services. They often operate one of two models:

A retainer fee model, where they receive a portion of the fee upfront, with subsequent payments made at defined stages of the search process. Should the search be unsuccessful, these fees are typically irrecuperable, and are intended to reflect the value of the effort made.

A contingency model, where the firm only charges a fee only upon the successful placement of a candidate. This reflects a shared-risk in the search, ensuring that the firms agenda is aligned fully with your own. However, it is wise to review the reputation of the firm and any guarantees around the time, effort and dedication to your search to ensure that an easier role or one with a higher resulting fee does not take priority. 

Is executive search the same as recruitment?

Yes, executive search is a type of recruitment but, no, executive search is not the same as other types of recruitment. executive search specifically targets high-level, senior positions, employing a strategic, tailored approach to identify and attract top-tier candidates, often for specialised or critical roles. In contrast, recruitment more generally covers a broader spectrum of job levels and industries, focusing more on filling vacancies and often dealing with a higher volume of placements. There are though other specialist types of recruitment, such as interim management

Why do companies use executive search?

Companies use executive search to secure exceptional talent for senior and specialised roles that are crucial to their strategic success. This method is particularly effective because it:

  • Targets Passive Candidates: Reaches high-calibre individuals who are not actively seeking new opportunities.
  • Ensures Confidentiality: Maintains the confidentiality of the search, which is essential for sensitive or high-stakes hires.
  • Provides Expertise: Offers industry-specific expertise and access to a wide network, enabling the identification of candidates with specific skills and experiences.
  • Enhances Objectivity: Brings an external, objective perspective to the recruitment process, which is vital for fair assessment and selection.
  • Reduces Risk: Minimises hiring risks through thorough vetting and assessment processes, ensuring the candidate fits both the role and the company culture.


How do I choose an executive search firm?

When choosing an executive search firm, it is crucial to opt for one with specific expertise and a proven track record in your industry or for the particular roles you need to fill. Assess the firm’s reputation by seeking recommendations and checking references from their past clients to ensure they have successfully delivered quality candidates. It’s also important to understand their search process and methodology to ensure it is comprehensive, transparent and aligns with your company values.

Consider the firm’s access to top talent, particularly passive candidates and evaluate their communication practices to ensure they provide regular updates and remain responsive throughout the search process. Analyse their fee structure to ensure it fits your budget and reflects the significance of the role. Lastly, ensure the firm is capable of understanding and matching candidates who are not only skilled but also a good cultural fit for your organisation.

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