Changing Nature of Executive Headhunting Firms in the UK
The traditional role of executive search and selection processes have had to adapt to changing trends. There is still a demand for top-level appointments with major corporations (global brands) and large organisations, though the reliance on high fee-paying corporations for securing the very top talent has diminished. This means executive headhunting firms have had to broaden out their core proposition and establish new revenue streams. Also, competition in recruiting for executive positions has intensified with new companies entering the market place offering more creative solutions and so raising expectations about what firms are expected to deliver.
Executive Search: Thinking Differently
With this, there is a trend for interim appointments lasting typically 6-9 months (some longer up to 2 years), leadership succession planning and broader consultancy solutions to help manage talent acquisition and long-term succession. Gone are the traditional executive networks with loyalty to one headhunting firm, so headhunters are having to work harder to capture new business on an increasingly international scale. The Internet and technology has facilitated the ease with which candidates, headhunters and employers communicate (build executive networks) across the world.
Headhunting can now be conducted throughout the world and international appointments are becoming increasingly frequent, such as in the global telecommunications and banking sectors. Getting the very best global talent available in itself presents its own difficulties, but clearly demonstrates how executive headhunting has changed over the past few years. The growth of networking platforms such as LinkedIn, greater international mobility and the globalised nature of business allows talent to be recruited across international boundaries (take the recent appointment in 2013 of the Governor of the Bank of England who is Canadian for example).
Company Talent Acquisition Strategies
Major corporations and executive headhunters have also adapted to changes in the way business is conducted. There is a distinct trend for interim consultant-led appointments lasting the duration of a strategic initiative or complex change programme. This allows companies to bring in specialist expertise, skills or industry knowledge for a relatively short period of time (interim basis) to allow ‘executive consultants’ to focus on delivering a specific strategy or programme. Obviously, this reduces the risk of a long-term commitment in appointing a CEO or boardroom executive for top leadership positions with all the salary, benefits packages and trimmings.
Changing Nature of Executive Headhunting: Conclusion
The overriding theme is that executive headhunting firms have had to adapt to survive, respond to changing recruitment trends and diversify revenue streams. The economic recession has focused the mind and got headhunting firms thinking about their business models and how best they can match the requirement for greater flexibility in the work place, whilst still finding the very best skills talent available to fulfil search and selection assignments, albeit on a more interim basis. Overall, this has led to better propositions, refined levels of service and a greater focus on relationship building to ‘raise the bar’ in an intensely competitive executive search market place.
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