The Future of Your Executive Search Firm

Shiela Manalo
Dec 14, 2017 · 4 min read

Written by Marcus McKenzie

Over the past ten years, numerous disruptors have emerged in the field of recruitment, the most notable is LinkedIn. Before LinkedIn, most companies looked at recruitment firms as the “go to” for candidates. Unfortunately, in most cases, recruitment firms did not have a wide enough network to provide the right candidates.

All of that changed when companies and candidates were given access to a platform where they could bridge the gap between themselves — even during times when the said parties were not particularly looking for new opportunities or employees, respectively. What LinkedIn provided was an ability for both businesses and professionals to showcase their branding, not just locally, but on the world stage. Companies can now search for that right employee, reach out and engage, and develop an employee-employer relationship.

The challenge now is this — how can an executive search firm stay relevant in today’s market? The field of recruitment is still very much an art and not a science. Executive search firms must continue to innovate and add value to their services since the recruitment process done 15, 10, or even 5 years ago just doesn’t cut anymore. Technology, dashboard reporting, client engagement, relationship building, and IT data management are just some of the capabilities a client expects from an executive search firm today. It’s no longer just “here’s the job description, find me a candidate” — executive search firms must react.

Today’s smart executive search firms are adding new capabilities and services like leadership training for successfully placed candidates, working on monthly fixed retainers to assist new companies coming into an offshore environment by being their “on-the-ground consultant” during the preliminary stages of the set-up, and partnering with clients for future deliverables.

Building solid IT workflow platforms that measure the milestones of a client- candidate engagement; provide data on roadblocks, action steps, and escalation activity — all geared towards being more efficient; closing the candidate-client activity to allow for the final billing to occur; and most importantly, develop a platform that candidates can easily navigate to make themselves known as candidates of interest to an executive search firm.

However, with all the disruptions and available employer/employee applications that can be found online these days, it would all come back to recruiters meeting the client’s brief. It is important for executive search teams to stay motivated, well-trained, and professional with their work. Here is my blueprint for an efficient executive search team:

  1. Skilled at matching a client’s brief to the candidate — you will never get a perfect fit; however a minimum of 90% touch point needs to be achieved.
  2. Understanding the client’s field of business — what do they do and what is their culture? Both business unit manager and recruiter need to meet with the client in order to fully understand the requirements and not just second-guess.
  3. Stay in touch — never stop communicating with your client. Update them about everything — the candidate market, obstacles being faced, when candidates will be presented. Be upfront and have an open and honest dialogue at all times. Do this and you will earn your client’s respect.
  4. Recruitment staff must always be motivated to fulfill requirements. Look into monetary reward schemes based on a percentage of the billable income.
  5. Provide in-house learning and development courses to build upon the staff’s strong and weak points — coaching and mentoring is critical to success.
  6. Assign sales managers to clients and ensure that regular follow-up meetings (with notes) take place to give senior management an opportunity to review progress and assist with any shortcomings.

Today, unless an executive search firm stays relevant and is able to fulfill clients’ needs, it will not survive. There are too many recruitment companies in today’s market, who are even doing the same thing — only the innovative ones will stay afloat. Any slip up will result in lost business. This leads me to the very final and most important factor that will make an executive search firm succeed — any perceived lack of communication with the client will signify that you don’t care and they will ultimately never work with you again. By the time your management realizes this, it will be too late. Always respond to a client’s email within a period of 24 hours, at most.

Please visit and join the John Clements Talent Community.

About the author:

Marcus has over 40 years’ experience in the Shared Services genre from his workings in Australia. Marcus is the John Clements Consultants Business Head — Australia/New Zealand Markets with a passion to build a better life one Filipino at a time.

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