Warning: The search market is changing

We all know the usual players in the world of C-level search. They are tried, tested and rich. Some firms even believe that certain talent gaps are automatically handled by certain firms.

But I’m here to tell you that slowly but surely a new hybrid search model is starting to surface. And it has been interesting to watch as this new form of search model starts to really gather pace to the point where it is now starting to bite into the traditional search firm’s marketshare.

It began during the recent recession when permanent contingency recruiters had to find ways to nail down vacancies, and offered value-add services to retain client loyalty (or the smart ones did, anyway). What began as a simple retained model on senior management roles has now transformed into a hybrid search service for the digital age that is putting a largely unchanged search model under pressure to modernise.

Let’s face it, most professional markets are now candidate-led anyway, so if a perm recruiter is worth their salt they already know how to research, longlist, headhunt, qualify and shortlist. These newer models are not as expensive, they deliver more quickly, and they blend digital tools with traditional search and headhunting techniques.

More and more firms are building executive search practices to sit above their traditional contingency and freelance businesses – and its working. They are winning more and more assignments. It’s a smart strategy and highly profitable, and many firms are now retraining their perm consultants to do just this.

How far will this practice go? If you are a recruiter that would like to move into a search role, see below for the skills or training you should seek out.

After this the process is pretty much the same as current day contingency: you present shortlist to client, you arrange interviews and you make placements.

So what next? Will the heavyweight search firms die out or evolve? Will the new breed make it to C-Level?

By Tara Lescott

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