Answer: The CCO at the outset should be the executive to invest the time to feel confident s/he has selected the resources, either internal or external (search consultants), that can add value and complete the search efficiently.
The hiring executive should decide if there is sufficient expertise in-house to understand and evaluate the candidates’ achievements and how that experience can fit the organization.
The CCO should ask if the internal recruiter, within the past 2-years, has been searching for other comms executives, so s/he has a sense of the marketplace. If the recruiter’s experience is dated, nuances and market shifts will be missed along with changes in the various communications specialties. Upward shifts in salary ranges can also have occurred and the hiring organization will need to reset ranges or lower experience requirements. All these issues should be discussed, and a decision made either that the hire can be effectively handled in-house or that an outside firm is needed.
One structural drawback about the role of HR is that it lacks the authority at critical junctures of the search, e.g. finalist interviews, to insist senior executives make this project a priority. Also, the HR liaison may be burdened with serving several internal clients. As a result, delays become unavoidable.
Once a search is underway, if an outside firm has been retained, many procedures I’ve described should be part of the normal recruiting process and discussed initially as part of the services provided. On the internal, in-house side, there can typically be less discipline in setting expectations and following up on an established timetable and plan. That will require more attention to keep the search on track.
To summarize, it is the Comms leader who will decide if an outside firm with a specific expertise is needed. If a firm is retained, the CCO will select the organization with the professionalism and track record in comms/marcom search work to justify a decision to retain the firm. That firm will assign a senior comms recruiter (approved by the CCO) who understands the key priorities of the job and will identify candidates who are fully qualified to fill the position. Establishing clear deadlines and reporting procedures will keep the search on track and avoid surprises. The same care and attention should be expected of an in-house HR manager who is the key contact for the search.