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A lot of time, energy and money is spent on executive recruitment. Yet it all to often does not work out as planned. In this thought piece we explore how executive search traditionally works, why it goes wrong and set out 360Leaders’ next generation approach.

The traditional approach to executive search

Executive search is a huge global industry. Estimated annual revenue is $30bn. 500k executives are placed by 100k search professionals each year.

Not only is the industry huge, but the market is growing fast as appreciation of the importance of talent and organisational strategy spreads. Market revenue is almost 3x higher today than 10 years ago.

How do those 500k executives get placed into their new roles? The traditional approach to executive search has three main steps:

To deliver this approach the 100k executive search professionals have traditionally relied on two core capabilities:

  • Charisma: critical to selling in a commoditised market, and persuading the client and candidate that they are a good fit
  • Network: important to source candidates, and win clients in a crowded market

Problems with the traditional approach

Despite the executive search industry being huge and growing, with an established process and required skillset, all too often hires do not work out as planned. This is especially true for high-growth, dynamic firms where roles are less ‘templated’.

While the problems associated with traditional executive search are numerous, we’ve highlighted some of the key ones from our experience below:

  1. False starts: the search process can take longer than expected as recruiters do not adequately question, challenge and understand role descriptions upfront. Meaning short-listed candidates often don’t meet the client’s requirements
  2. Capability gaps: the new hire lacks some capabilities critical for the specific role, leading to performance issues; typically as the capabilities were not appropriately defined nor considered during the search
  3. Misaligned expectations: the new hire’s expectations for the role are not aligned with reality, creating frustration and confusion for the new hire and wider leadership team
  4. Ineffective onboarding: the new hire is not given the information needed to hit the ground running, and spends the first weeks understanding the business and role before they are able to have impact
  5. Lack of diversity: sourcing candidates from ‘little black books’ and looking for those who have held the same job title before, rather than searching for candidates with the right capabilities for the role, leads to a lack of diversity in short-lists, interviews and hiring

Fundamentally these problems are a result of traditional executive search firms not getting under the skin of the business model, strategy and nuances of the role they are recruiting for to find the right candidate for the specific role.

Next generation executive search

360Leaders has pioneered a new fact-based, data driven and systematic approach to executive search. It resolves the problems created by the traditional approach.

Our team of ex-commercial and strategic operators has a different set of capabilities to career executive search practitioners. These differentiated capabilities underpin our differentiated approach.

360Leaders draws on a wide range of factors to build a deep understanding of the strategic and organisational context:

Our approach is underpinned by a range of proprietary tools:

By understanding the strategic and organisational context the role is being hired into, we are better able to define role requirements, which enables more effective search & selection and on-boarding:

Want to find out more about next generation executive search? Talk to one of our experts