The cost of hiring is much more than the cost of advertising to attract applicants. Obviously, salaries and benefits are paid to in-house recruiters. Their department carries with it travel, lodging and entertainment expense. Remember, too, the myriad overhead expenses. These costs, when spread over the hiring activity for mainstream positions may well be appropriate.
But diverting these resources to the highly specialized practice of hiring a key executive is inefficient. Worse yet, recruiting for these positions generally requires involving executives outside of the personnel department, having a negative impact on their own productivity.
Looking at it from another angle, the purse strings can be pretty loose when it comes to goodies for high level employees but tied in knots for something as important as hiring for one of those positions.
Club memberships and the like are great—even deserved. But no one believes that they contribute to a company's profit margin. Consider that one well-placed employee can cause profits to skyrocket. Consider too just how much those new profits outweigh the cost of hiring the individual responsible for them.
It is no surprise to find that using an outside professional is actually cost effective. It has to do with the appropriate application of resources—from dollars to expertise. You will save time, money and frustration by outsourcing the search for executive level candidates to a professional recruiter.
The whole point of retaining a professional is that they take responsibility. Choose one that does just that—leaving nothing for you to concern yourself with except deciding which candidate shines brightest. The peace of mind is worth the cost.