The Progress and Evolution of Executive Search Firms

Executive search firms are continuously evolving, taking on practices that extend far beyond basic executive search. Now, innovative new firms such as Cluen are working with top recruitment groups by providing them with types of software that take a more dynamic approach to recruitment. These firms move beyond simply finding an appropriate candidate and extend into areas such as assessments and executive coaching, finding suitable people for leadership roles and board advisory.

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Technology is changing the current career landscape.

Because technology has changed so rapidly, the ways that search firms seek out qualified candidates are also changing. Roles have evolved. What once may have been a more simplistic search for a candidate who possessed a list of specific traits that made him or her qualified has now turned into a multi-faceted process through which candidates with diverse skill sets are sought out. There are new roles that require stronger and more complicated skill-sets, and because these roles are new, the tools needed to fill them must be more advanced.

Increased technology has opened more positions, and it has also helped give rise to more advanced systems to more adequately choose those candidates. This need is most apparent in the technology sectors, as well as in the fields of healthcare and finance. The executive search firms maintain a strong hold on new developments within these sectors, meaning that they can effectively search for ideal candidates in positions that may not have existed before. The rapid increase of digital influence within these sectors means that there is a need for previously unknown talent with a mix of influences and expertise.

What do the new search firms do that traditional firms did not?

In the search for top talent, Joe Chapell (manager of global marketing and communications at Association for Executive Search and Leadership) says, “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”.

Basically, current firms now offer an entire package designed to enhance the recruitment process. Not only do these firms now help select the best possible candidate for different positions, but they also seek to help the chosen candidate succeed within the position. The new Executive Search Firms include long-term assistance, such as various kinds of coaching and organizational mapping and development. These programs hope to go far beyond the immediacy of hire and into the distant future, potentially even working to replace the chosen candidate when he or she leaves the company. There is also an emphasis on inclusion and diversity, making sure that candidates of different backgrounds are fairly and fully considered.

Executive search firms are merging to increase growth and benefit clients.

There has been an increase in mergers amongst executive search firms in an effort to capitalize upon one another’s specialties. This increases growth for all parties and also guarantees that clients will be more satisfied as a result of a more specialized search and higher levels of expertise. These trusted partnerships mean more, high quality service offerings. A network of executive search firms means that clients are granted access to services beyond what is typically offered. It also means that the firms themselves have access to an entirely new client base.  These alliances are formed based on each firm’s mission and overall goals, meaning that genuine partnerships designed for the benefit of all are the ultimate outcome.

When speaking about the impact of technological advancement, it must be noted that new regulations mean that firms need to work to guarantee compliance. There are repercussions for businesses that do not follow certain regulations, including the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Search firms are responsible for following the regulations set forth by this act. This means that, if you are one of these search firms, it is wise to do your research and to pursue legal advice if you feel you do not fully understand how to be compliant.

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The executive search firm, while remaining specialized, is evolving to support clients in new and diversified ways. In addition to simply recruiting qualified candidates, search firms now seek to build long-term relationships with their clients to fill and maintain positions that require a high degree of expertise. Additionally, the search firms support the clients beyond what is typical. They go beyond hiring to develop and help optimize company organization, thereby increasing their own client base and capabilities while maintaining their clients’ full satisfaction.

Read more about the development of executive search firms here.


Fred Coon, CEO

At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.