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How long does Executive Search take?

  • Publish Date: Posted 5 months ago
  • Author:by MERJE

The Big Wait: Demystifying Executive Search Timelines in the UK

Landing a top executive for your company is like finding a hidden gem – exciting, rewarding, but sometimes frustratingly time-consuming.

If you're considering whether executive search is the recruitment solution you need for your current senior management hiring project, you've likely wondered: "Just how long will it take?".

The answer is both simple and complex, a blend of "it depends" and "let's break it down".

The Short Answer:

Minimum of 4-6 weeks: This is how long it typically takes for an executive search firm to deliver a shortlist of qualified candidates. Think of it as the initial sifting through the haystack.

8 weeks to 4 months: This is the broader range for the entire executive search process, from start to finish. It all depends on the specific role you're filling, the talent pool available, and the complexity of your recruitment process.

The Long Answer:

Executive search firms offer an in-depth market mapping service preceding the beginning of the search for your most suitable candidates. This step of the recruitment project can itself add weeks onto the timeline as the firm researches a variety of industries and areas of the market to identify possible sources of relevant talent.

This can be particularly time-consuming for generalist executive search firms which may not always have the background or expertise in the industry, business function, or role you’re recruiting for, meaning they’re starting from scratch in their search.

How does MERJE's Executive Talent solution differ?

Our team are absolute experts in our disciplines, meaning we already have the networks, the connections, and the talent pools required to kick off an executive search process as soon as possible.

Find Out More >

There are several other factors that can affect the timeline of your executive search too, including:

  • Role Complexity: The more specialised the role, the harder it will be to find the right candidate, and the longer it will take.

  • Talent Pool: If there are a lot of qualified candidates for the role, the search will be quicker. But if you're looking for a rare skillset, highly specific experience, or a candidate-short location, be prepared for a longer recruiting journey.

  • Urgency: If you have a pressing need to fill the role, the executive search firm may be able to expedite the process. However, it's important to remember that quality shouldn't be sacrificed for speed.

  • Interview Process: The more complex your interview process, the longer it will take to complete. Be sure to streamline your recruitment journey to make it as efficient as possible, including embracing remote interviews.

Tips for a Smoother Search:
  • Work with a reputable executive search firm: A good firm will have a strong network of contacts and a proven track record of success.

  • Be clear about your needs: The more specific you are about the skills and experience you're looking for, the easier it will be for the executive search firm to find the right candidate.

  • Be patient: Finding the perfect leader or senior manager for your business takes time. Don't get discouraged if the process doesn't move as quickly as you'd like.

  • Be flexible: Be willing to adjust your timeline and expectations if necessary.


The goal of executive search is to recruit the best possible candidate for your company. The next time you're considering an executive search in the UK, remember that the timeline is just one piece of the puzzle. Focus on finding the right partner and the right process, and the rest will fall into place.

Executive Talent: a no fuss alternative to Executive Search

Our Executive Talent solution focuses on what your business really needs in order to achieve its long term goals. We deliver highly relevant shortlists of candidates in a matter of weeks, and at realistic and flexible costs, removing the unnecessarily long timescales and high price points associated with traditional Executive Search.

If you're hiring a senior management, leadership, executive, or c-suite role, get in touch today >

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