Changing Expectations of Executive Search Selection UK

There are changing expectations regarding UK executive search selection processes, especially when operating in a global executive market. Gone are the traditional laid-back approaches to executive recruitment with an over-reliance on friendly contacts and executives ‘walking into opportunities’ through the ‘Executive Grapevine’. Today, executives face tougher competition, increased expectations and more challenging recruitment processes to ensure employers get the best possible person for the job (maximum return on investment). With extended search, selection and interview processes, executive recruitment has become more ruthless and better structured with different techniques to make it harder for executives to get ahead of the competition and stand out to make an impression.

Changing Executive Search Selection UK

UK Executive Search: Clear Strategy

Everything must be finely tuned from CV preparation and interview skills through to personal branding. Executives need to apply a clear strategy, define ideal target roles, develop a clear marketing message and be prepared to adapt to changing requirements (i.e. a targeted approach yields better results).

UK Executive Search: Embracing Technology

Expect to develop an effective online presence, notably through LinkedIn to help maximise potential networking opportunities. Increasingly, executives are taking to different forms of social media, so a consistent approach, clear message and overall strategy much be applied here. Some social media platforms are more relevant (i.e. LinkedIn; Twitter) than others (Facebook is not so relevant for executives).

Executive Search UK: Headhunter Relationships

Partnering with executive headhunters is an integral part of any executive job search strategy. Benefit from extended networks, established industry contacts and feedback from headhunters. Any successful job hunting strategy relies on choosing the right headhunter and building a strong trusted relationship over time. This includes taking the opportunity to meet headhunters to identify requirements and set priorities.

New Headhunting Companies

There are two strands to this. For instance, there are new entrants offering different headhunting propositions that are challenging the very nature of executive search and selection, largely by being very slick and embracing latest technology platforms. Secondly, there are other recruitment consultants purporting to be executive headhunters that do not truly understand the executive job market and do not have those extended contacts networks or longstanding reputation in place (i.e. senior recruitment consultants acting as executive headhunters). These are more hit and miss, so it is important to choose the right headhunting company to partner with as some headhunters are a waste of time because they do not have many executive-level roles on their books.

Executive Jobs Search: Open Competition

Executives should not rely on existing contacts so much, especially as employers have to demonstrate they have open competition for roles and have chosen the very best person for opportunities. If there is some influencing, this will be more down to industry reputation, leadership credential and track record than offering a job to a friend! Gone is relying on the traditional ‘Executive Grapevine’, given stronger / wider competition, even on a global scale.

Extended Interview Processes

Employers are becoming far more rigorous and accountable for recruitment decisions to get the very best candidate (return on investment). This often means extended recruitment processes with 3 or 4 interview phases, scenarios questions, psychometric tests, presentations, greater headhunter involvement and even an initial telephone screening interview. Employers may use executive search selection firms to support executive-level appointments through additional screening and interview processes.

Interim Appointments / Senior Consultants

Changing economic realities means that employers are no longer recruiting for permanent long-term contracts. Instead, companies are hiring for interim appointments over clearly defined contract durations or using senior consultants to bring in specific expertise for a particular strategic programme or project. This significantly reduces long-term risk for organisations and may still lead to a permanent appointment if candidates prove their worth over time.

Overall Expectations

Employers are willing to pay a premium for specific expertise or talent, but equally they expect more from candidates in terms of high performance, overall track record, outstanding achievements, professional development, executive leadership programmes and bringing something unique to the role. Look at ways of differentiating oneself from other candidates. This can be massively important when seeking executive search selection firms as they expect candidates to offer something different and stand out from the competition.

Higher Standards

Company executives are expected to know so much more, especially in a complex global operating environment, technological advances, industry knowledge, financial / P&L skills and so on. Executives must be able to apply skills in different ways and adapt to changing business / market requirements.

Global Dimension

Executives are competing in a global job market, so leading to greater international mobility and job opportunities increasingly coming from abroad. For instance, Dubai is a major employment growth hub, with competition coming from all over the world here. Languages are a good differentiator as is the ability to grow companies across different markets (cultural awareness).

Greater Resources

With growing technology, new applications and greater accessibility of the Internet, there are so many more job boards, executive headhunters, advice websites, company websites and information sources to find / maximise opportunities. There are a number of executive propositions within the job market, though be careful not to choose something too mainstream and conduct research to evaluate what suits you best.

Personal Branding / Marketing

This is about applying a consistent approach and clear message to create an impression. Understanding what product (the executive) and which market they operate in is really important as it can help target or define opportunities. The idea is to sell executive leadership credentials effectively under a clearly defined ‘brand’ rather than focusing too thinly on a number of aspects. Stick to what you know best and develop a clear proposition that employers will buy-into (sounds more convincing than if lacking focus).

Changing Expectations for Executive Search UK: Conclusion

Overall, there are a number of factors leading to changing expectations within executive search and selection. Carefully choosing executive headhunters to partner / building strong relationships are fundamental elements of any executive job hunting strategy. Some consideration must also be given to clearly defining ideal target opportunities, personal branding and developing a clear proposition so employers can see how candidates can fit into an organisation and add value. One final thing, is to offer some unique and think about how to stand out amongst the competition. External article: Some emerging global recruitment trends for executive search selection.

We have also written several articles on optimising UK executive search selection processes and choosing the right executive headhunter firms to partner with. Overall, expectations of the UK executive selection process have changed significantly, so understanding key drivers can help target the right executive search selection company to build a relationship with or plan ahead.