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At Society we believe in the transformational impact of great leaders. Everything our firm does is geared towards identifying and attracting the best leadership talent on behalf of our clients.

Society is an executive search firm with a fresh outlook. Our mission is to be the retained recruitment partner of choice for responsible businesses and purpose-driven organisations. A full executive search process is the best way of making senior appointments. Most recruiters only focus on active candidates: a small pool of people within their immediate orbit, who are currently on the lookout for a new job. However executive search firms can also reach out to passive candidates: a much larger pool of people who are busily getting on with their current roles and not yet thinking about their next move. By drawing passive candidates into the process, you are able to appoint from a much wider and higher calibre field. You can also benefit from your search partner’s experience in running rigorous and robust processes, and their insights in terms of candidate assessment. This short booklet aims to tell you a little about our approach, and the values that underpin everything we do.

1. Briefing

2. Headhunting

3. Sifting

4. Appointing 1

Stage 1: Briefing Every assignment is unique, so we will take the time to get under the skin of your business and understand every dimension and nuance of the brief. At the outset of every process we request a thorough set of in-depth briefing conversations with the relevant stakeholders in the appointment. This is because we know that the better briefed we are, the more effective we will be when approaching potential candidates on your behalf. With all the information at our fingertips, it becomes much easier to manage candidate perceptions, assuage possible concerns, and engage their enthusiasm. For us, the briefing stage is about more than just attending a series of meetings. We will also be happy to trawl through old Annual Reports, Corporate Responsibility Statements, and Financial Accounts to find useful nuggets of information.


We like to get out of the office and experience your business as well: for our retail clients, we go to visit their stores; for our hospitality clients, we ask to tour their key sites; for our tech clients, we request a demonstration of their products; and so on. We will then assist you in pulling together an attractive Candidate Pack, incorporating a brief Job Description and Person Specification, as well as some vital context about the wider business. Using the information we have gleaned from these initial conversations, we are able to anticipate how the role will be received and to tailor its presentation accordingly.

In practice One of Society’s clients is a hospitality and leisure business operating venues on three continents. We have assisted them with several international General Manager appointments. On each occasion our credibility with potential candidates has been grounded in our intricate understanding of the business at an operational level, as well as on our grasp of issues such as the local tax regime and culture, and even the best nearby schools.

Stage 2: Headhunting We deploy a research-intensive and advocacy-focused approach to seek out and engage the best candidates in the market place, wherever they might be. Our methodology makes extensive use of our existing networks, but also ensures that we are always reaching out to new contacts and following up on interesting and creative recommendations. At every stage we seek to challenge our own assumptions by triangulating feedback from trusted senior contacts and intermediaries. Our goal is not just to identify strong potential candidates, but also to advocate the role to them and secure their interest. We believe that an effective headhunt should contain an element of persuasion, rather than simply being a question of double-checking who is currently looking for a new position.

We will patiently unpack the opportunity for potential candidates, advocating its possibilities, while being candid and realistic about its challenges. We can pick through stumbling blocks or concerns with attentiveness and precision, providing information, correcting misconceptions, and offering reassurance as required, until the target individual becomes thoroughly enthused and engaged. The accessibility of our team also lends a personal touch to the candidate experience and makes the act of applying as easy as possible. As candidates send us their CVs, we will keep you fully informed of our progress and start to select a longlist of individuals who will be taken forward to an initial interview with us.

In practice One of Society’s clients is a UK-based FMCG business. We recently assisted them on two National Account Manager (NAM) appointments. Top-quality NAMs are highly sought-after by the leading consumer goods firms, so the competition for their attention can be fierce. We were able to make our client’s opportunities stand out from the pack by articulating the brief to potential candidates in a genuinely detailed, accurate, and nuanced fashion.


Society’s experienced team couples in-depth sector knowledge with cross-cutting functional expertise. We are at home handling anything from individual appointments through to whole programmes of recruitment resulting from expansion or restructure. We like to work with organisations that make a positive impact on society, and we believe that careers should have purpose and meaning.



Stage 3: Sifting Our initial interviews with candidates are friendly, but challenging. We seek to understand not just their experience and capabilities, but also their values and their motivation. Where possible we arrange for candidates to come to our offices in person, but if they’re based overseas then we usually conduct their initial interviews via video conferencing software like Skype. Our interviews with longlisted candidates perform two functions. Firstly they enable us to assess the candidates against the brief. Secondly they provide an opportunity for us to impart additional information and thereby deepen and extend the candidates’ knowledge of and interest in the role. We typically spend 60-90 minutes with each person, and we often conduct interviews in pairs, so that one colleague can lead the conversation whilst the other observes and takes notes.


Following our interviews, we will meet with you again to agree upon a final shortlist for each post. At this stage we will send you short written summaries on the strongest candidates, so that you can form a more textured understanding of their background, suitability and personal style. We will also cover factors such as their salary expectations, notice periods and willingness to relocate. Our goal is to settle upon a final group of between three to five appointable candidates, who can then be invited to meet with you directly for a formal interview.

In practice One of Society’s clients is a FTSE 100 retailer. We have helped them to internationalise their UK workforce by finding Director-level candidates from within competitor businesses across continental Europe. We used our initial interviews not just to focus on their experience, but also to explore which people had a genuine resonance with the company’s values, as well as the cultural flexibility required to operate successfully in a different country.

Stage 4: Appointing We will work closely with you to ensure that the shortlist of candidates is rigorously assessed and that the final outcome is one that works for everybody concerned. Although a certain level of logistical organisation (the booking of meeting rooms and the coordination of internal diaries) invariably falls on the client’s shoulders at this point, we are there to continue making the appointment process as easy and intuitive as possible. Crucially, we remain thoroughly involved in candidate communication, ensuring that the shortlisted individuals know where they stand at all times, and equipping them with everything they need in order to do themselves justice at the final stage. Running up to this point, we will have spent a lot of time laying the groundwork for a job offer. This involves carefully managing each

candidate’s expectations of the likely salary and package that will be available, and talking with them regularly to anticipate any potential issues or surprises. Following your interviews, we will happily take up two references on each of your preferred candidates. We will likewise be on hand to assist with the offer process and any final negotiations. Finally, we will also take responsibility for turning down and feeding back to the unsuccessful candidates, ensuring that they feel well treated, and that their experience of the appointment process was constructive and reflects well upon your business.

In practice One of Society’s clients is a rapidly growing telecoms company. Their internal HR team was swamped with tasks due to the demands of ongoing expansion. We were able to alleviate the burden for them by coordinating all the logistics for Board-level interviews with an international field of candidates. Through tenacity, clear communication and attention to detail, we helped to steward the process towards a successful conclusion.


Values and Responsibility We believe that organisations can have a positive societal impact, and that careers should have purpose and meaning. As a team, we’ve given a lot of thought

We’re also committed to being a

We are active members of Business

to how we want to do business. It

responsible business. For us, this

in the Community and participate

boils down to five core values:

means that we don’t just want to

in many of their flagship campaigns

create profit; we also want to play our

and programmes, such as Give &

 Partnership

part in securing a fairer world and a

Gain Day and the Ready For Work

 Authenticity

more sustainable future.

scheme. We’re also careful and

 Integrity  Creativity  Diligence

selective about the clients we agree Society gives at least 10% of its annual profits to charity, partly through the charitable Society Foundation


to work for.

Costs and Timescales Our fees for a full executive process are usually based on 28% of the role’s anticipated gross salary. However the exact figure is usually open to negotiation. We believe in agreeing our fees up-front.

If you wish us to run a public

appointment; however this can usually be

This gives you complete clarity about

advertisement in parallel with the

shortened if necessary, and we are always

the costs involved. It also means that we

search, then we will recharge any costs

happy to agree timescales up-front.

can act with your best interests at heart

to you directly. Advert candidates will be

during any salary negotiations with

directed to apply via our website in order

your preferred candidate.

to ensure that all applicants receive a

Our fees are invoiced in three roughly equal instalments: one upon commencement, one upon shortlisting,

uniform experience. Should you wish, you will also be able to monitor applications in real time via our online Client Portal.

and the third upon the acceptance of an

A full executive search process

offer by your preferred candidate.

typically takes between 8–12 weeks

Where a client is recruiting for more than one role, there can sometimes be efficiencies and economies of scale. We are very comfortable running multiple appointments at the same time.

from commencement through to final


T: +44 (0)207 935 4052 E: W: A:

Ariel House, 74a Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QJ


@societysearch /company/571709 /societysearch

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Our Full Executive Search Approach  

A brief overview of Society's full executive search methodology.

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