While most firms have a human resources or personnel department which tackles all recruiting issues, other firms prefer to count on the professional service of recruiting companies. Still, if an organization is searching for its most important officers, like the CEO, CFO, etc., it may not be realistic to count on its own department. Sometimes only an executive search firm could handle the hard task of finding the perfect CEO or CFO in a shortly and first-class manner.
To be sure that everybody understands the meaning we put into the phrase “executive search”, we could also describe it with the more mundane word “headhunting”, or to put it another way: the process of recruiting qualified individuals for executive positions in an organization. It’s important to be noted that the executive search firms only identify and present the candidates that are suitable for the specific position. Thus the actual decision is being taken by the clients themselves. As HR professionals were able to see through the years, the executive search turns out to be a lucrative but though business. The competition in the sector is more than severe. Still, that can make clients happy as fierce competition always leads to better sector results and more qualitative products.
Evolution of executive search firms
Entering the business in 1953 Heidrick & Struggles was one of the first executive search firms in the USA. They started their business in Chicago, Illinois, but went international in a short period of time. The firm’s first international office opened doors in the United Kingdom in 1968. Today the company operates in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The company even became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Another industry leader is the worldwide known company Korn/Ferry. They started offering talent consulting services in 1969. Since then they have conducted more than 10 000 high-level searches. The firm has about 80 offices in 40 countries and thus serves big corporations all around the globe. Today the company’s representatives are constantly being invited to share their expert opinion within international forums on executive search and other superior hiring practices. Not long ago Korn/Ferry’s CEO Gary Burnison spoke at the World Business Forum 2011 – Inspiring Leaders event. The event is a highly respected platform for sharing ideas and trends that are shaping the future of the HR business.
What are the trends for the future?
The future of executive search is likely to be impacted by several trends, including:
- We expect an increased use of technology: Executive search firms are increasingly using technology to streamline the recruiting process and improve candidate sourcing, screening, and assessment. This includes the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the best candidates for a specific role, as well as online platforms for scheduling interviews and conducting background checks.
- Greater focus on diversity and inclusion: Companies are becoming more focused on building diverse and inclusive teams, and executive search firms will need to adapt to this trend by identifying and recruiting candidates from underrepresented groups.
- Remote work: The shift to remote work, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has changed the way companies hire and work, and executive search firms will need to adapt to this new reality by identifying candidates who are comfortable working remotely and have the skills and experience to be successful in a virtual environment.
- Virtual recruiting: With the ongoing pandemic, virtual recruiting has become the norm. Executive search firms will need to adapt to this change by leveraging technology to conduct virtual interviews, assessments, and other recruitment activities.
- Greater emphasis on soft skills: Companies are increasingly looking for candidates with strong soft skills such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, and leadership potential. Executive search firms will need to adapt to this trend by assessing candidates on these skills and identifying those who have the potential to become effective leaders.
Overall, the future of executive search is likely to be shaped by a combination of technology, diversity and inclusion, remote work, virtual recruiting, and a focus on soft skills. Executive search firms that are able to adapt to these trends will be well-positioned to help companies find the top talent they need to succeed in the future.