The Evolution Of Executive Search
Headhunting firms are finding new ways to expand their services beyond executive search by adding practice areas like board advisory, succession planning, assessments and executive coaching. Cluen provides recruitment software to many of the world’s top recruitment alliances. As discussed in my previous article, we spoke with some of these networks to learn more about the rapid evolution of executive search trends today.
How has the executive search market evolved in the past decade?
Disruption within the digital economy has led to the creation of leadership roles within various sectors. However, these roles did not exist before so you need a good tool to search for talent with a complex set of skills and competencies. For example, a chief data officer or chief IoT position requires a versatile background in enterprise data architecture, data quality and governance, business strategy and business regulation compliance. More recruiters are depending on their technology and historical data when looking for candidates to fit these new roles that require such an intricate set of skills.
Joe Chappell, managing director, global marketing and communications at Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), adds, “Technology has impacted every aspect of search especially in finding top talent and assessment. Current assessment techniques are more sophisticated with a suite of technology-based tools combined with in-depth interviewing, role-playing, case studies and situational responses evaluated by seasoned experts.”
He continues: “Clients are now looking to search firms as strategic advisors who provide counsel on a broader basis, including assessing leadership teams, advising boards on their effectiveness, succession planning and culture shaping. The profession, just as the industries it serves, now requires much more agility. In a fast-paced, ever-shifting business climate accelerated by technology, we have to be at the forefront to best serve our clients with expert advice and insights.”
In addition, new regulations, such as GDPR and U.S. compensation history laws, have imposed steep penalties that could devastate your recruitment business. You can learn more about how these laws could affect your business here. To ensure compliance, we recommend establishing a clear plan for your team and technology. If you have questions about how to comply with these regulations, seek legal advice and reach out to your technology provider. It’s important to actively work to navigate these regulations and achieve compliance in your data management.
How are search firms developing services beyond traditional executive search?
Our clients are beginning to expand upon their service offerings, especially in the area of executive assessment. Many firms bundle the offerings as part of their recruitment process to ensure they find the best possible fit for a senior leadership role. The goal is to help the client enhance their talent selection, aid in the candidate’s development post-job acceptance and potentially work with the client when it comes to building a succession plan for the future.
Christine Hayward, executive director of IIC Partners shares, “We have seen a number of our firms expand their offering into services that are of key importance at the board and executive level. In particular, there is a great deal of focus on succession planning, diversity and inclusion, assessment, coaching and organizational mapping. These services are complementary to executive search.”
We have also seen an increase in executive search firm mergers and have acted as strategic data conversion specialists during the data migration process. Our consensus is that these firms want to make sure they position themselves for growth and are able to serve in a broader market by leveraging another firm’s specialties.
Hayward explains the role partnerships have had in meeting these demands: “Some executive search firms are acquiring firms and organizations with a niche specialty in these services, while others are expanding their internal capabilities by training teams on providing and delivering these new offerings to clients. We are seeing many of our member firms across the globe partnering with other IIC Partners members that have strong expertise in these new service offerings. This allows our member firms to provide clients with the highest quality service offerings through trusted collaboration and partnership.”
Your firm should personally reach out to some of your clients to see where you may be able to support them beyond traditional executive search. You can do this by calling firms you have a good relationship with and asking for their input. We have even seen firms send out surveys to their networks to uncover which industries or verticals these additional services are needed in the most.
Hayward concludes, “In many cases, the development and offering of these additional executive search services leads to new client relationships and gaining new business. These services provide clients the ability to vet and pursue new executive search firm partners with little up-front commitment and risk and vice versa. We have seen our own firms utilizing these services as a competitive advantage and as an opportunity to initiate new discussions with clients, resulting in new search work.”
If you are an executive search firm looking to expand your executive search services to clients, merge with another firm to become more diverse or partner with a global alliance, consider a partnership with a trusted industry network. Alternatively, if you need board advisory, succession planning, assessments or executive coaching, many global alliances are now offering these diversified services.