The Only Two Performance Metrics You’ll Need in an Executive Search

By Ken McGovern

When it comes to retained executive search, only two performance metrics matter: the placement rate and the amount of days to placement.


The Placement Rate measures effectiveness and how likely a search project will be successful on average. It quantifies the percentage of roles that actually get filled against the total number of projects.

Placement is paramount. The goal of any search project is to fill a role and place a candidate. Not doing so is clearly a failure. And the cost of failure can be high – for both the search firm and the client organization.

Reputation grows with each placement. A high PR shows an ability to consistently place candidates and successfully finish search projects. It demonstrates a high level of expertise and a strong commitment to clients. Over time, this can help build the reputation of the search firm and establish them as a valuable service provider and even as a long-term strategic partner.

KMR – Placement Rate: 90%

National Average – Placement Rate: 71%*


Days to Placement measures efficiency. The Days to Placement (DTP) metric measures how long it takes to fill a role – from the very start of a project through to the successful placement of a candidate.

Time to value is important because the quicker someone is placed, the quicker they are in their role. And, the quicker someone is doing their job, the sooner they will be making an impact on the business. Essentially, this is all about improving time-to-value: the faster you can place someone, the more value they bring to the company.

Another key benefit of a low DTP is simply the time and money it saves. The longer the recruiting process takes, the more time is spent – or wasted – in meetings and on status calls. As the old saying goes; time is money. And the boss’s time doesn’t come cheap.

KMR – Days to Placement: 84 Days

National Average – Days to Placement: 132 Days*

Data based upon a benchmarking study of 23,000 search requisitions conducted by Clockwork Recruiting, a provider of executive search project management software. The research included search projects across myriad industries, functional departments, and levels of management.


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