Executive Search for Key Executives! What a Bright & Necessary Idea!

Posted on 3 October, 2015 at 0:05

In 2009, the Association of Executive Search Consultants celebrated their 50th Anniversary by publishing a fun account of the history of the industry. As a boutique firm working only in the vertical PR and Communications markets, Travaille’s history sounds very much like AESC’s chronicled growth.

From the beginning, search consultants have long been characterized by business savvy, psychological awareness, superb social skills, and disciplined work habits. That remains today, as we look at the future, which remains, bright and necessary. It can be extremely difficult for an internal recruiter to provide the objectivity, flexibility, resources, reach and motivation that an executive search firm brings to an engagement. Internal “talent management” programs have been only partially successful in meeting succession needs, especially at senior levels. The volatility, competitiveness and unpredictability of the supply of senior executive talent suggest that there will always be a need for retained executive search consulting.

To borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, reports of the death of executive search at the hands of the Internet have been greatly exaggerated. True, data on candidates has become commoditized. But that hardly means that search will follow suit; indeed, as a consulting discipline, search cannot be commoditized. Defining position requirements and candidate qualifications—not to mention sourcing, screening, interviewing, prepping, selecting, and persuading—require as much art as science, and more social savvy than memory. As Janet Jones -Parker, a former AESC President, stated, “High-tech presents no threat to high-touch executive search.”

It is true that not all potential clients grasp the value proposition and consulting component of retained executive search. The only antidotes are client education coupled with consistently outstanding client service. By definition, executive search consulting requires the services of a retained executive search consultant. Contingency or “container” arrangements can erode the consulting element of search and reduce it to a different service. While Internet-enhanced recruiters and some employment agencies may try to repackage themselves as search firms, they are in a different business.

Categories: For Employers

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