Executive search is by far the most difficult hiring process out there. It sounds far-fetched but hiring executives can make or break your business. They can affect profits. They can affect productivity. And they can affect your workforce.
When hiring for executives, companies have a long list of specified requirements that need to be met. These key positions require specialised knowledge of both the job role, and often the industry, and companies need to know they’re getting the right person.
Great Executive Candidates Are Thin On The Ground
It takes a long time to work up to an executive level. That means there are naturally less candidates for these positions than for entry level jobs.
Because of the nature of exec-level roles, businesses (understandably) want a certain amount and level of experience, which further complicates the process. Add in new industries popping up due to the pandemic, the ongoing (and accelerating) need for digital transformation, and the executive search process becomes more complicated.
A 2020 survey by Recruitment Software platform Invenias suggested that 77% of executive search professionals’ top challenges were going to be talent shortages.
Despite unemployment increasing, the need for strong leaders and qualified senior staff to steer businesses through difficult times is also increasing.
Good C-Suite Employees Are Getting More Passive
In fact, employees in general are getting increasingly passive. In a volatile job market, people are wary of being the “last in first out” and are becoming less open to being approached by hiring managers and recruiters. Candidate engagement is becoming harder and it takes more time and effort to get prospective employees to the point of discussing a role.
In 2016, Social Talent discovered that the average response rate from candidates to their LinkedIn messages was 28%.
Of that 28%, 27% agree to go forward in the process. Since then, anecdotal evidence from recruiters suggest that number may be even less.
Those figures came from recruiters working all kinds of roles. Considering that C-Suite are known to be even more passive than less senior candidates, their numbers are probably lower. After all, executives tend to work longer hours, stay at businesses longer, are busier, and get paid more than other jobs. They’re less likely to jump roles because compensation is already relatively high and they have benefits and perks they want to retain.
So the Executive Search Process Fails
According to Simon Mullins of executive recruiting peer networking group, ESIX, exec recruitment fails 40% of the time. At least. ESIX say the majority of these searches went awry along the way, took so long the business hired internally, or they just cancelled the search completely.
That’s a Lot of Money Wasted
Executive Search can cost a LOT of money. Not just because it’s a long and in depth search.
But money is also wasted through an unfilled position, or having the wrong person in the role. If the position is critical to pushing the business forward, ensuring innovation, or stopping revenue loss, an incomplete search is a big business issue.
If the company is looking for a replacement for someone already in position, but not performing, they’re stuck with an inadequate employee until they complete the search or change direction.
What’s the Solution for High-Level Recruitment?
There are no quick solutions to fixing the Executive Search process or speeding it up. However, there are a few things that can be done to improve the process and get the right people in the right roles.
The first is moving away from “little black book recruiting”. The old recruiters trick of opening up their list of suitable candidates and putting a few forward doesn’t cut it for executive recruitment in the 21st century. What about all the people this misses out? What about people on the cusp of a more senior position?
Another is using data and intelligence to unearth talent pools. While the amount of data available in recruitment can seem overwhelming, figuring out how to use that data can help you find the right people.
It might be there are talented people with your exact set of skills in another country and the market seems open to relocation. It could be that your industry has transferable skills you didn’t realise and there’s a pool of excellent candidates in a neighbouring industry.
There could also be a wealth of talent bubbling just under exec level, that with the right role and mentorship could provide innovative thinking and new practises to your growing business.