‘Recruitment’ is a word which can often strike fear in the hearts and minds of marketers and creative professionals, but finding and hiring new talent does not have to be a feared task, if you take the right approach. 

As with any industry, the landscape of the recruitment and executive search industry has evolved insurmountably in recent years. With both employer and talent outlooks shifting, along with advancements of AI tools, minimum expectations around key topics such as CSR and diversity, societal and economic trends, and changes to ways of working, the whole process can be overwhelming for many – including those in the business of finding talent. 

Whilst there are dozens of nuisances I could go into, there are a few key pillars where I have witnessed the greatest shifts and predict these to become more prominent in the coming years. 

Ways of working 

This is an area I think most people are somewhat familiar with, but the ongoing evolution of new and adapted ways of working shows no signs of slowing down. Many companies have embraced remote or flexi working in the past few years, but there are other shifts in this area which are lesser known. In particular, the approach to leadership now looks drastically different to what it might have in years gone by, where C-Suite team members had earned their way up the ladder through years of dedication to the company and reign over the worker bees. Now, leadership can look more level, agile and collaborative, with a near eradication (in some cases) of hierarchies in many teams. 

Similarly, executives are no longer limited to being one individual who ticks all the boxes and joins a business for the long-haul. There has been a considerable rise in the instances of interim executives, who are sought after to be able to quickly fill leadership gaps whilst a longer-term solution is deliberated on, or they may be bought on to provide specialised expertise for short-term projects. This is something that has not been seen previously in the industry and is something to be considered in executive searches moving forward. 

The human side 

The rise of an insistence of ‘humanity’ in the recruitment and executive search industry is something that I have really enjoyed watching and being a part of, with a notable increase in both employers and talent demanding ethical and transparent practices across all aspects of business operations, as well as an emphasis placed on aspects such as diversity, inclusion, CSR, and sustainability. 

Again on ‘the human side’, there is an increased demand for soft skills and emotional intelligence, rather than just expertise. An ability to interact, and empathise, with others, particularly for those in leadership roles, is paramount over just the number of years clocked up. Executive searches therefore not only include technical skills in the search criteria, but also adaptability, resilience, and an alignment with the business culture are also critical considerations. With this, we are seeing a higher instance of training and development, with organisations increasingly investing in executive coaching and leadership development programs to nurture and retain top talent. 

From an executive search perspective, ‘the human side’ means retaining a consultative approach, and not falling into the trap of becoming complacent with the use of tools. Rather, capitalising on the value of personalized, human-driven insights and relationships will continue to be crucial in the top-tier executive search industry, where leveraging your network and playing the role of a trusted advisor, rather than relying solely on tools, will certainly reap greater rewards. 

Digital transformation 

I know, a buzz word… but there is absolutely a digital transformation sweeping the executive search industry. Not only from the logistical aspect of searching for an analysing prospective talent, but it is changing search parameters, too. The advancement in technology for remote working tools, as well as the mindset toward allowing this, has meant that we are no longer geographically restricted when seeking candidates. If top talent resides away from a company’s physical location, that no longer counts them out of the consideration set. 

When sourcing candidates, AI-powered tools and algorithms are becoming increasingly intelligent and intuitive, aiding in streamlining sourcing, assessment and matching of prospective candidates to businesses. Executive Search firms can leverage the multitude of data available to make more informed decisions from the outset, these technological tools, combined with a human assessment of data and personalities, are able to enhance the long-term success of matches, and even possess the ability to predict future talent needs. 

Despite all of these changes, a history in the industry is still abundantly important when seeking to engage with an executive search firm or recruiter. Someone who has a past account of what has happened before and can use this knowledge and observation of trends to forecast what lies ahead is a major differentiator in major times of change, such as now. Furthermore, in-sector experience provides a considerable advantage in helping to find and advise on suitable roles and candidate matching, with an ability to speak the same language, understand the profession, and having the knowledge and ability to tap into an existing network. 

At the end of the day, regardless of how you search for and approach recruitment, it does not have to be an overwhelming task if it is approached armed with the right information, and the right tools in your arsenal. Keeping abreast of trends and adapting strategies accordingly will be key for executive searches in the years ahead. 

Nikki Samson is the Founder of NS Search and brings over two decades of experience as a marcoms leader. Having worked and served in positions similar to those she now fills, Nikki brings a differentiating and refreshing approach to the Executive Search / Headhunter industry as well as a real flair for finding the right talent, quickly and efficiently. Nikki has placed talent at all levels, in all verticals across the marketing communications and creative fields.  www.nssearch.co | nikki@nssearch.co