In her August 3rd article for SHRM (Executive Search Heats Up in Emerging Markets), Stephanie Overman writes: “Executive search experts see their business heating up in emerging markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific area and Brazil.”
Here in the US things are a bit different. With the economy still struggling to recover in many sectors and geographies, recruiting professionals can be faced with sifting through hundreds or even thousands of resumes for every job posting. “Using electronic media and social networking” as Overman writes, might work where demand is greater than supply. But for US companies the need for experienced executive search firms remains critical, regardless of how appealing these “no or low” cost options might sound.
For US companies still facing a sluggish economy and low consumer demand, it could be damaging to create a mismatch between the talent hired and skills required in critical executive positions. This can happen if the recruiting office, going it alone to find talent, is overwhelmed with resumes for a job posting. It can also happen if the executive search firm used by the company fails to thoroughly investigate the company’s need, fails to identify all possible candidates (not just those folks in their rolodex), and/or fails to carefully scrutinize the candidates’ skills as compared with the company’s needs.
The economic downturn has been a wakeup call to both companies and employees. Many companies were forced to downsize in order to rein in costs. And for employed as well as the unemployed, it is important to know that many of these jobs are not coming back to the US. The apparent flattening of organizations that is also part of this cost control effort means it is not just “labor” jobs that have left the economy. Management and executive positions are also in limited supply. Companies, particularly those who have weathered the economic downturn well, may have the pick of top talent not just from the ranks of the newly unemployed but also from the key employees in less prosperous companies.
And as we have seen with the auto industry, the potential pool of executive candidates may not be limited to those only with experience in the industry. There could be highly qualified candidates whose career and employment background are “out of the ordinary”. Executives with track records of success in both “up” and “down” economies have a skill set that is in high demand, especially as lingering doubts about economic recovery persist.
One dynamic in the current US job market is that once highly paid individuals are willing to accept much lower pay. For the unemployed executive and the company looking to fill a position, this might seem like a “win win.” The executive gets a job (finally) and the company gets a talented individual at a low cost. The challenge is whether the executive is there for the long term or just using this position as a “paid job search.” Of course the employee/employer loyalty contract was broken long ago. As we said on our blog, Who are you, the employer/employee loyalty contract is a thing of the past. Employees will continue with a company for as long as it feels “right” to them, and often not a moment longer. Employers will retain workers for as long as they provide value, and not a moment longer.
So it’s not “wrong” for the newly hired executive to keep searching for a job, but does that make him/her the best candidate for the company? Probably not. And if a company wants to grow and flourish, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to fill its ranks with people whose perspective is “my career opportunity here just isn’t as good as it was before.”
Grahall’s Joe Davidson says that as a result of the economic downturn, conventional wisdom about hiring the “overqualified” might be changing. “A company which is attracting highly paid candidates to lower paid positions might benefit from directing effort toward communicating its mission and reorienting employees to better understand the longer term ‘value’ of the job not just the remuneration today.”
So how do you find the right executive candidate? We believe that most US companies could benefit from retaining an executive search firm. But then, how do you know if your retained executive search firm is doing the best job for your company?
Grahall’s Bill Byrnes points out there are key differentiators that can ensure the search will identify qualified and appropriate candidates. Bill says “extensive, fundamental research must be conducted for each engagement; demand the best candidates in the labor market, not just the best in a headhunter’s data base. Second, pricing and invoicing for services must favor the client; fees should be fixed and rational so that the search firm does not make more money by presenting candidates with higher comp demands than the client’s budget. And third, the executive search firm must have an unsurpassed commitment to client satisfaction; your search firm should be paid for meeting/exceeding your expectations, not just for effort and the passage of time. If you are not happy, why should you pay?” Not surprisingly, the Grahall Executive Search Alliance, led by Bill Byrnes, delivers on all these key criteria…and more!
As Bill says: “What companies need is executive find, not just executive search.”
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