You can get really far in the quest to find a junior to mid-level employee by taking note of trusted referrals, advertising within your target industry and investigating what’s out there on platforms like LinkedIn. But if you’re looking for a vetted, highly-skilled and enthusiastic A-lister, there’s no better way to engage them than to partner with an executive search firm.
The board members of your company are restless; they’ve agreed that only a game-changing rockstar will cut it when it comes to your next essential hire. Your in-house HR team admits they are clueless as to where to find this much-sought-after executive and, while contingent agencies have flooded you with CVs, there’s nobody in-house with the inclination to wade through and narrow down this high-level search.
“This is the type of situation that calls for a complete recalibration of your hiring approach,” advises Jeremy Bossenger, director at Sandton-based BossJansen Executive Search. “What few companies realise, and we’ve been in this game for over two decades now, is that an executive search team collates their own unique pool of talent over time (industry-dependent), and taps into this, when required, to elicit the four or five key individuals who’re simply ideal for your needs.”
He adds, “With this resource and their years of experience, an executive search firm is equipped to confidentially approach a top candidate about the role that needs to be filled; to converse with them as to the specific requirements of the position; and to woo them with what is actually really sensitive information – what industry competitors are up to which makes them so vital to the hiring firm, what salary expectations and benefits are on offer, and the reason/s the role is open in the first place. All of this is the type of information with which our partner firms entrust us.”
What the scenario involves and why the investment is so powerful
An executive search firm, which you would hire on retainer, is an extensive financial and human resources investment. This is not to be approached lightly if you’re mainly hiring at a salary range that is relatively low, or even mid-level.
But when your company gets listed, for example, the whole playing field may change – so let’s have a look at what could go wrong if you stick with an in-house HR team or task your managing director with sifting through a barrage of CVs from a contingent agency, instead of making use of the very people in the recruitment marketplace who are butter-knife skilled at slicing through these tasks and getting the job done with professional ease.
Indiscretions to sidestep at all costs
* Your highly skilled and much-loved MD resigns under the strain of the CV-sifting process. #disaster
* Your mid-level in-house HR manager offends that skilled “needle-in-a-haystack” individual, by contacting them doggedly on their cell after hours. #messupdeluxe
* A contingent agency you asked to source CVs was a little less than discreet. The under-performing senior executive, who thought they were securely employed, heard all about their pending retrenchment/replacement at a neighbourhood dinner party, or the hairdresser. #facepalm
So, given the case – for example – of the perfect candidate for your needs being based at a competitor, you’ll know that feathers could be seriously ruffled on both sides of the fence if the greatest of confidentiality is not employed… Ready to go the executive search route now?
“What I’m seeing these days,” advises Bossenger, “is that highly remunerated senior managers and executives with cutting-edge skills are not likely to jump ship lightly. It’s too disruptive to the lifestyle goals they have and their need for innate stability after the impact of the pandemic. Offer them a similar or higher salary with better perks, more empathy towards family responsibilities/flexibility in terms of hours and a rocking company culture, and you’re on to something. We don’t hesitate to inform a long-standing client when the package they’re offering simply won’t cut it.”
If in doubt… go high level and astute
* Executive search firms steer clear of cookie-cutter qualifications (such as the marketing qualification every millennial completed two years ago), in order to alight on the senior individuals who bring noticeable bottom-line and vibrancy changes to a firm. These people have been around, know what works when it comes to disrupting an industry while keeping their teams happy, and have honed their skills in a niche over decades. The executive search firms who have placed them in these roles are an incredible ally to the hiring firm.
* And executive search firms give astute advice relative to the positives and negatives of a client’s own unique organisation:
-Got a crowd of incredible juniors sorely in need of mentorship? Your executive search partner will offer you the most engaged and empathetic managers in the marketplace.
-Got a mid-level talent gap to fill so that a person/team can begin growing into the role of the senior person who is nearing retirement? “We simply tee up the necessary personnel well in advance,” enthuses Bossenger.