Is the Digital Age Affecting Executive Search?

Digital Age PIC

There are few aspects of modern life that have not been affected by the digital age, and therefore it’s no surprise that digital technology has transformed the Executive Search industry too.

Not so long ago, candidates applied for jobs via post, following an advertisement spotted in their local newspaper. Today, our first port of call is the internet, where the opportunities for a career change are infinite.

Last year, it was reported that approximately 300 million searches on Google per month were related to job searches, and that 89% of recruiters have hired someone via LinkedIn. With statistics like this, it’s hard to ignore the important role digital is playing in the recruitment industry.  The question is, when it comes to sourcing the right candidates, can technology beat good, old-fashioned networking, industry knowledge or referencing? Or should it be used as a contributory aid in the journey of sourcing the right candidate for our clients?

Here, we’ll look at the different ways in which two significant aspects of the recruitment/search process are affected by digital change and development.

Executive Search Process – Market Mapping: 

The role of an Executive Search Firm is vast; we’re responsible for finding future talent for our clients, and ensuring that we find the very best candidates for our clients’ openings. In order to do this, we need to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the talent landscape.

One of the most critical stages of any assignment is identifying qualified prospective candidates, and the digital age has renewed the way candidates are originally sourced. Candidate pools can be widened simply by the use of online resources, resulting in a much higher chance of finding the leading candidate for your opening. Not only are we utilising traditional recruitment processes, we’re able to facilitate a wider search using social and business media networks, among many other online techniques.

However, despite the fact that 80% of employers plan to use social media to recruit for their roles, other avenues of talent finding should not be ignored. For example, some candidates may not register with social and business networks, which could mean recruiters missing out on a candidate qualified for the role simply because they haven’t created an online profile. Profiles can also stagnate and be out of date, or even include inaccurate information. There needs to be a happy medium; it’s vital that all online and offline resources are utilised in order to clearly understand the talent pool in its entirety.

Executive Search Process – Interviews: 

The digital age has also heavily impacted on the interview process. As the search progresses, we hold interviews with potential candidates to assess their qualifications and motivation. We then arrange a series of meetings between the client and the lead candidates, completing the all-important interview and decision making process. Digital software and technology has advanced this entire stage of the recruitment initiative. We’re able to synchronise calendars between all parties (EA’s, Partners, and Candidates etc.), facilitate travel arrangements and organise appointment facilities, host international telephone conferences or seminars, and even organise interviews from participants’ living-rooms (if absolutely necessary!) through the use of video chat software.

Distance need not be as big an issue anymore. The digital age enables us to efficiently organise meetings without the need for extensive travel. Rachel Bridge, small and medium-sized business writer for the Telegraph explains that “The biggest advantage of video conferencing is the cost and convenience – attendees can take part from anywhere in the world, which significantly reduces travel costs as well as time needed for travelling. This means it can be far easier to arrange meetings held via video conferencing than those which require everyone to be physically in the same place at the same time.”

In a lot of instances, technology has also enabled us to facilitate meetings free of charge. For example, Skype, an online piece of video software, is changing everything. The USA seems to have taken on this trend, and it’s reported that 6 out of 10 recruiters have used Skype to interview. It helps to get a real sense of the type of person you’re speaking to in a more personal way than a phone call would, which is a great contributory factor in its popularity.

However, our excitement around the benefits of the use of technology within the interview process must not become distorted. Although technology has helped the operational aspects of meetings and interviews, should we really be swapping formats such as face-to-face meetings in favour of an easier, technological fix? We need to see technology as more of an assistant than a pioneer in the recruitment arena.  Though the digital age has most certainly opened up new avenues to allow us to make connections and build networks, technology shouldn’t completely replace the need for face-to-face contact at some point in the interview process ?

Carol Kinsey Goman (Business Coach, Author and International Speaker) contributed to Forbes.com, with her article ‘Seven Seconds to Make a First Impression’. In this post, she stated that in ‘business interaction, first impressions are crucial’. She explained ‘the moment [a] stranger sees you, his or her brain makes a thousand computations: Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Are you friend or foe? Do you have status and authority? Are you trustworthy, competent, likeable, confident? And these computations are made at lightning speed — making major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting.’

With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves, how can technology replace one-on-one contact? Realistically, will any employer hire a candidate based solely on correspondence via technology?

What does the future hold for the Executive Search industry?

Despite the vast changes that have been made in technology in recent years, our overall aims and objectives as an Executive Search Firm have remained the same. Technology has enabled Search Consultants to further develop original skill-sets, and provide more effective, timely and efficient support to clients and candidates throughout the search process.

To put it simply, technology has helped progress and improve the solid foundations of the industry that brings good service and the delivery of exceptional talent.