Executive search consultants weren’t supposed to survive in the digital world. After all, why pay a recruiter a fee when a large percentage of candidates put their information on job boards, LinkedIn, and soon on Facebook and Google? Hiring managers could cut out the recruiter and go find qualified candidates on their own.
The truth is that these digital alternatives did strike fear in many recruiters. Twenty—or even ten—years ago, recruiters could get away with selling a mysterious “database of contacts” that only the recruiter had access to.
That won’t cut it in today’s executive search market. A recruiter must deliver real value.
As a recruiter, I’m fine with that.
In fact, I embrace it. Our team at Robertson Associates embraces it.
We didn’t become executive search consultants to try and sell access to a database. Personally, I moved from investment banking to recruiting specifically because I believe our profession can deliver incredible value to companies. LinkedIn and job boards didn’t change that. In fact, those tools help show what separates talented, value-focused recruiters from everyone else.
The digital tools that have disrupted executive searches have made the easy parts of recruiting even easier. Because of job boards and social media, recruiters have faster access to more job seekers, are better able to position our client’s brand in a positive way, and see more transparency from candidates (not that it doesn’t happen, but it is far harder to lie on a LinkedIn profile than it is on a résumé).
If you were a recruiter surviving on your ability to merely find potential hires and verify their work experience, your value proposition has disappeared.
That was never our model at Robertson Associates. The most important part of what we do hasn’t been disrupted by job boards and LinkedIn, and it won’t be disrupted by Facebook or Google, either. Our value to clients is greatest when we are meeting face to face with job candidates. That’s where we get to know why those candidates are interested in the position, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and whether they have a leadership persona. In those face-to-face interactions, a talented recruiter plays the role of mentor, neutral advisor, and sometimes even therapist.
That ability to assess a candidate face to face is especially important for a boutique recruiting firm like ours that focuses on executive and managerial talent. Companies simply aren’t going to find their next CEO by searching LinkedIn.
We recently recruited a CEO in the retail industry in Germany. Our client wanted a candidate who would bring a high level of digital innovation expertise and have a high profile in the German business community. We invested days meeting them across Germany, and spent hours discussing their track records and challenging them on the impact of digital disruption for their strategy—only so can we bring outstanding profiles and exceed expectations.
You can’t look a LinkedIn profile in the eye. You can’t get a better sense of a candidate’s leadership potential from looking at a CV posted on a job board. And your hiring manager likely doesn’t have time or the capacity to immerse herself in specific hiring criteria, like the way we did with the client mentioned above.
Of course, tools like LinkedIn and job boards have disrupted even firms like ours. Executive search consultancies must deliver more value to our clients. But rather than simply finding a list of names, that additional value now comes in the form of online assessments, talent mapping, talent pooling, job marketing, and strengthening a client’s brand with future employees.
Our team at Robertson Associates has integrated services like these and more into our value proposition.
If you want to learn more, please contact us today.
We’ll be glad to discuss a strategy to find your organization’s next generation of leadership talent.