What is Executive Search? How to Find Top Talent

What is Executive Search? A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Top Talent

More and more companies are using executive search firms to secure top talent, not only for management positions like directors and outside directors, but also for talented managers and executive officers. But what is executive search, and how does it differ from regular recruitment?

In executive search, experienced consultants with industry-specific expertise receive specific requirements from the hiring company’s management. These consultants then research candidates from all channels, carefully source and introduce them to the company. This article will introduce the purpose of executive search and the features of JAC Group's executive search services.

What is Executive Search?

Executive search is a recruitment method for top management positions. It focuses on finding and recommending talented people with advanced expertise and leadership skills.

Unlike regular recruitment agencies that introduce candidates from existing job seeker databases, executive search finds candidates through various networks. Executive search consultants carefully select candidates based on a deep understanding of the hiring company and its needs, and then approach them. When recruiting for management positions, the target person is not necessarily thinking about moving to another company. Consultants at executive search firms utilise their wide network and experience as headhunters to contact potential candidates. Then, they work with the company to further narrow down the candidates, ultimately creating a meeting point between the target person and the hiring company.

The key advantage of executive search is that it can secure a commitment from top management talent, something that is difficult to do through regular recruitment activities. Mismatches in the recruitment of top management can have a major impact on a company's future. Furthermore, delays in recruiting for important positions can also have immeasurable consequences. By utilising executive search, you can grasp the candidates available in the market at that time and carefully select and recruit the most suitable candidates within a certain period of time, which is a major plus for company management.

Executive search is an important method for companies looking to recruit talented top management. To maximise its effectiveness, it is essential to partner with a reliable recruitment agency.

In many cases, executive searches are requested as confidential cases by a single executive search firm. When recruiting top management, not only the candidate's background and skills, but also compatibility with the company culture and vision are very important factors. Therefore, an executive search consultant who deeply understands the intentions of the management team (including the head of human resources) of the client company will understand the characteristics of each candidate on behalf of the very busy management team of the hiring company, carefully select candidates, and convey the attractiveness of the hiring company to the candidates, leading to successful recruitment.

Successful recruitment in executive search does not end with the candidate joining the company. For executive search consultants, it is also an extremely important mission to maintain relationships not only with the management team of the client, but also with the candidate they introduced, and to support the organisation building.

What is an Executive Search Firm?

An executive search firm is a recruitment agency whose goal is to find and introduce top management and executive-class talent that companies are looking for.

Unlike typical recruitment agencies, executive search firms utilise their global networks and extensive experience to research talent in accordance with the needs of their client companies.

The biggest feature of executive search firms is that they have a wealth of information and know-how to select candidates that are suitable for a company. Through close communication with clients, they can find people who match the required leadership, expertise, and management philosophy.

The services of executive search firms tend to be more expensive for companies than typical fee-for-performance recruitment services, but when it comes to recruiting top management, they offer a great advantage. Because the success of the recruitment will have a major impact on the business, executive search firms can introduce the desired class of candidates within a specific period of time. Interviews and negotiations with candidates are conducted by experienced executive search consultants, who play the role of accurately matching the requirements of the client company.

By utilising an executive search firm, companies can effectively acquire excellent top management and executive talent, which is expected to contribute to the growth of the company and improve its competitiveness.

There are two main types of executive search firms: retained search firms and contingency search firms.

Retained Executive Search

The most common contract type for executive search services is the retained search. 

Recruiting top management, who significantly impact corporate management, demands meticulous recruitment activities and typically spans several months to a year. To ensure timely and successful recruitment without disrupting operations, executive search consultants dedicate themselves fully to the project for a set period. This involves investing substantial time in candidate targeting, longlist and shortlist creation, progress reporting, candidate outreach, in-depth interviews, and occasionally, assessments.

Consequently, a retained search fee is charged at the outset of the recruitment process, followed by a success fee upon completion, as stipulated in the initial contract. Due to the high confidentiality of retained-based projects, engaging multiple executive search firms is not advisable. Generally, only one firm is entrusted with a retained-type contract. Our commitment to consistently providing exceptional candidates has fostered enduring partnerships with leading global companies.

Contingency Recruitment (performance-based payment type)

The contingency model is a widely used recruitment service. It caters to job openings requiring swift, short-term recruitment for a broad spectrum of non-executive positions, such as managers and specialists.

Unlike retained executive search, there's no upfront fee; however, a success fee becomes payable upon successful placement. While contingency-type services are prevalent in executive search, they don't encompass market research or longlist/shortlist creation, relying instead on introducing talent from existing networks and databases. In such cases, the breadth and depth of each agency's network and database significantly influence recruitment success.

Features of JAC Group's Executive Search

Trust and Proven Track Record

Since our establishment in Japan in 1988, we have consistently supported the recruitment of executive positions. We identify candidates for management and executive roles who are ideally suited to address specific challenges, such as securing top management to propel a company's growth or recruiting executive talent to implement reforms in response to a changing business landscape.

Dedicated Consultants with Extensive Experience

JAC Group boasts a team of experienced consultants with a proven track record in executive recruitment. We offer both contingency-based executive recruitment and retained-based executive search services. With the largest network of consultants specialising in executive and senior-level positions, we deliver high-quality services tailored to each industry and job type. We maintain strict confidentiality while sharing information about exceptional candidates and recruiting companies, primarily in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Chubu, and Kansai. Our consultants possess industry-specific expertise and a managerial perspective, enabling them to understand the unique needs of our clients and propose suitable candidates based on business strategies, management challenges, and desired personnel profiles.

Global Reach

Our reach extends beyond domestic management talent to encompass global talent. As one of Asia's largest recruitment services, the JAC Group has established a network of professional talent in 11 countries worldwide, spanning Asia, North America, and Europe. We have a long and successful history of recruiting for executive positions in global businesses at both foreign and Japanese companies. Through collaboration with career consultants and JAC Group's overseas offices, we can identify and introduce the most qualified management and executive talent from our extensive network.

Unique Network and Tailored Proposals

JAC Group's network of management and executive talent is among the largest in the industry. By combining this vast proprietary network with our market research expertise, we can fulfill all your executive recruitment needs, from management-level searches to executive-class talent acquisition. Our consultants conduct thorough interviews and assessments to ensure candidates not only align with your company culture and values but also possess the problem-solving abilities essential for success.

JAC Group's Executive Search

At JAC Group, our team of experienced consultants, well-versed in various industries and job functions, specialises in identifying and introducing top-tier executives for critical leadership positions.

Executive positions

Executive classCEO / Director / Auditor / Outside Director / Part-time Auditor
Chief Officer (Chief Function Officer)COO / CFO / CIO / CDO / CHRO / CMO / Other CxO / Executive Officer
Chief Executive OfficerGeneral Manager/Business Manager
Manager/Director classManagers of departments in the front, middle and back office
(Sales Manager / Development Manager / Manufacturing Manager / Accounting Manager / Human Resources Manager / Other Specialised Area Managers)

Industries / roles

Manufacturing/EMCFood, Beverage, and Consumer GoodsIT/WEB

Medical Care/Health Care

Service/DistributionConstruction Real Estate
DigitalBack Office / A&F (Accounting & Finance)Overseas related jobs / GRS
Consulting FirmAdvertisementLaw / Legal
Financial InstitutionsLuxury, RetailStartups


Launching a new businessExpanding to the global marketBusiness expansionIPO structure
M&A strategy planning and executionBusiness succession, next-generation managementPromoting the appointment of women to managerial positionsBusiness Improvement

Our Brands

JAC Executive

The 70-strong JAC Executive team has a single objective: to help your business find the very best management talent. We place:

  • Next-generation managers
  • Management talent responsible for promoting digital transformation and SDGs
  • Top management for IPOs, governance positions (such as non-executive directors and corporate auditors) and foreign business positions
  • Business succession specialists, global expansion experts and more


VantagePoint is a specialised executive search and headhunting firm that focuses on senior management and executive roles, including C-suite / C-level positions. With a primary focus on consulting firms, private equity, life sciences, technology, and financial institutions, VantagePoint is dedicated to sourcing top talents.

VantagePoint works with both Japanese and multinational companies in Japan when they require professionals with a strong management consultancy background. It takes a highly tailored approach, providing a bespoke experience for each individual rather than offering a generic, one-size-fits-all solution.

JAC Group Executive Search: Step-by-Step Process

Step 1Understanding Your NeedsOur journey begins with a thorough understanding of your specific executive search needs. A dedicated career consultant will visit your organisation to gather detailed information about the position, including the desired qualifications, experience, and cultural fit.
Step 2Identifying Top CandidatesLeveraging our extensive database and unparalleled industry knowledge, we swiftly identify a pool of potential candidates who align with your requirements. Our consultants employ a combination of targeted sourcing techniques and their extensive network to reach the most suitable individuals, even those who may not be actively seeking new opportunities.
Step 3Conducting In-Depth InterviewsOnce we have identified a shortlist of promising candidates, our experienced consultants conduct in-depth interviews to evaluate their skills, experience, and cultural fit. These comprehensive interviews provide us with a deeper understanding of each candidate's potential and their ability to contribute to your organisation's success.
Step 4Presenting Qualified CandidatesAfter careful evaluation, we present you with a shortlist of highly qualified candidates who meet your specific requirements. Each candidate's profile includes detailed information about their background, accomplishments, and motivations, enabling you to make informed decisions.
Step 5Supporting Your Recruitment ProcessWe actively support your recruitment process by providing thorough insights into each candidate's strengths and potential contributions. We also assist in coordinating interviews, providing feedback, and ensuring a smooth and efficient hiring process.
Step 6Ensuring a Successful TransitionOnce you have made your hiring decision, we continue to provide support during the onboarding and transition process. We facilitate communication between the new executive and your team, ensuring a smooth integration into the organisation.

Partner with JAC Group for Executive Search Excellence

JAC Group's executive search process is designed to provide you with a seamless and successful experience in finding the exceptional leaders who will drive your organisation's growth. Our team of experienced consultants is committed to understanding your unique needs and delivering tailored solutions that meet your specific executive search requirements.

Contact us today to discuss your executive search needs and embark on the journey to finding the next generation of leaders for your organisation.