Focus shifts to executive hiring

This year we've seen a notable focus on in-house executive search. It is an area I’ve felt has been consistently under developed in-house for many years but three things are changing that this year:

  • For well-developed in-house recruitment functions, it’s the last area to bring in-house and with the rest done, now is the time
  • With hiring freezes or reduced volumes for experienced hire recruiters and budget to deal with, total spend on search fees now stands out in the recruitment budget
  • In more advanced functions, the data and analytics that drive use of the in-house team are being applied to say to the business: ‘If we own this and deliver our brand message at this level too we’ll get better hires’

What does this mean for job opportunities? Are we seeing executive search partners from the big firms moving in-house on six-figure salaries? Well, no.
Like any part of an in-house function, early stage development often means more junior hires (salaries of £35k-£50k are fairly standard) and looking for different skills to what the external market traditionally applies.

Let’s look at what companies are looking for:

 All-round capability. Where search firms break up responsibilities, employers want everything in one person. Expect to see job specs asking for research skills, delivery, closing and client management

A greater administrative burden. In-house teams may not have the support function that the search firm has; you are going to be booking interviews and travel while keeping a system (if there is one) up to date

A greater focus on delivery. The value in the quality of research and having the perfect shortlist tends to be slightly lower than in a search firm. The key for in-house is to present an appropriate shortlist, less often the perfect one. This is driven by volume; an in-house search professional may run eight to 15 searches at a time, not two to six. You need to present and move on at speed

Modern skills. Particularly as we see technology firms leading the way in demand in this area, there’s an expectation that executive recruiters have a modern sourcing toolbox. If you do not know your way around Google extensions, Boolean and sourcing on social sites, you will be at a disadvantage

 This is not a strategic advisory role; it’s a delivery role. Organisations want people who will be the engine room for executive recruitment, not cerebral advisers. If you are interviewing for these types of roles you will be expected to know your metrics, talk process and delivery – not just rely on your influence and the great network you have

Its early stages but we are seeing a shift similar to what we saw in experienced hire recruiting five years ago. Expect to see more executive recruitment delivered in-house, but do not expect the delivery to replicate executive search firms. A nimbler solution is desired

By Andrew Mountney

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