Time to revisit your executive search strategy

Jeremy Bossenger says you should refresh your views on what’s considered talent sourcing “best practice”.

So, before we delve into this important topic for executive search specialists, let’s first establish what “best practice” really is. Effectively, it can be defined as a set of professional procedures that have become accepted in an industry as being the most efficient or effective way of doing business.

Yet, as the recruiting landscape has undergone changes due to the pandemic, so the ways in which us professionals approach our clients and their potential hires (read: candidates) should also become a bit more fluid and accommodating.

Director at BossJansen Executive Search, Jeremy Bossenger, advised in a May 2021 piece on the changes he was seeing within the executive search niche: "We used to spend all day in lengthy meetings with clients and potential applicants at hotels, coffee shops, and offices, whereas today we find we can get all the information we need in a short Zoom session. It's made the running of the business much more efficient."

While lockdown made it tough for staff members based in certain areas, such as parts of Soweto, to stay in touch – Bossenger advises that they worked around this by looking at which data provider gave these individuals the best coverage to ensure everyone could remained up to speed.

"Essentially, we worked really strategically at our ability to stay in touch, so working from home didn't result in any breakdown in the working relationships with either valued clients or our colleagues," he enthuses.

With these considerations firmly in mind, the five strategies below elaborate on just how to succeed, in the marketplace today, as you approach and attempt to lure a top talent away from their current, most likely cushy, place of employment.

• Sidestep wishy-washy job specs
In this realm, it’s all about the specifics – so be sure to submit a CV for your chosen client with a thorough character profile and previous tricky team management roles, well handled, over and above those boring old professional/academic qualifications.

• Reputation isn’t everything
Sure, some of your colleagues in this game may be taken aback by what an all-star candidate has achieved in the past; but what position are you needing to fill right now and will this person be humble, and/or agile, enough to fit in with the hard-working team on the other side?

• Remain goal-focused

In executive search, you’re dealing with skilled, experienced and management-friendly folk. So be sure to communicate well as to the values and goals of the client; or risk your prize candidate walking firmly away.

• It’s not all about the money
Senior executives want to add value and work in environments that truly resonate with them. “Matching an executive with their prize perfect company is the main reason we work in this niche,“ advises Bossenger. “Such individuals will earn well wherever they go but can you help them make a difference? That’s the golden ticket,” he enthuses.

• Act with R.E.S.P.E.C.T
A last note on dealing with senior executives is that the experience and skill they bring to any interview, or boardroom table trouble-shoot, should never be underestimated. Your role, in assisting them to move from something high-earning, to something high earning and difference making, involves: quick responses (i.e. to calls, emails, and any other type of messaging); and a clear take of any aspect of the upcoming role which they may wish to discuss.

Executive search is a fine-tuned type of machine; you’ll need to establish a critical balance between the science of candidate assessment and its art. “As a science, us recruiters may look at what core competencies are on the table,” says Bossenger. “As an art, it's all about feeling out what’s less obvious – body language, gut feel, ability to make a junior team member feel important? This is where a candidate’s true value lies.”