Candidates and Executive Search Consultants. Expectations. - NAJINTERNATIONAL Executive Search | Recruitments | HR Advisory

Candidates and Executive Search Consultants. Expectations.

Candidates and Executive Search Consultants. Expectations.

Understanding the Executive Search recruitment process and each other’s expectations and needs.

Candidate versus Executive Search Consultant.

In the rapidly changing and competitive world of executive recruitment, both Candidates and Executive Search Consultants face unique challenges and opportunities.

For Candidates, the Executive Search recruitment process can be a mix of excitement, anticipation and sometimes apprehension. Meanwhile, Consultants must navigate a complex environment to identify and attract the best talent that fits their Clients’ needs and aligns with their organizational culture. Understanding the Candidates’ perspective and keeping in mind the key issues that are important to an Executive Search Consultant can greatly enhance the effectiveness and success of executive recruitment efforts. I will look at them from the perspective of both parties.

The Candidate Experience: Insights from the Front Line

Candidates in the Executive Search process bring their experience, skills and aspirations to the recruitment. However, the process can trigger different emotions and feelings in them.

1. High expectations

Executive candidates have high aspirations for their next career move. They are looking for opportunities that not only offer challenges, but also provide growth prospects and are in line with their personal and professional goals. As a result, they expect the recruitment process to be comprehensive, transparent and respectful of their time and expertise.

2. Image management

Job seekers realize the importance of creating a favorable image throughout the recruitment process. This ranges from designing an impressive resume to demonstrating leadership skills during interviews. Senior leaders are aware of the requirement to present themselves as the most suitable candidate for the job and for the company.

3. Decision-making pressure

As candidates progress through the selection process, they may feel increased pressure to make important decisions. These decisions could include weighing multiple job offers or evaluating the potential risks and benefits of changing their current employment. In such cases, managers need to carefully consider their choices and make informed decisions that align with their long-term career aspirations. At this stage, it’s also important to consider how well the job offer fits with the candidate’s personal circumstances, particularly if the offer involves relocation or significantly more time commitment due to the nature of the role (such as greenfield, restructuring, change in organizational culture, company growth and new investments, moving production from other markets to Poland or from Poland to other continents, regional function involving very frequent business travel in different time zones, etc.).

4. Communication and feedback

Based on my experience, effective communication is crucial in the Executive Search process. Candidates expect regular updates, clear expectations, and feedback from recruiters and HR Managers or Hiring Managers on the client side. They require information on the stage of the recruitment process and their candidacy, which can be unpredictable and complex. Multiple stakeholders are involved in the process, and it is essential to provide transparent communication to build trust and provide a positive candidate experience. Executive Search Consultants usually pay great attention to providing feedback and may even enforce people on the Client’s side to ensure clear communication. However, they also understand that it can be challenging to get the decision-making consensus on the side of the Client’s Company, especially when there are people involved who work in several countries and have busy schedules. The feedback stage becomes more complex as the position recruited for becomes higher.

Key issues for Executive Search Consultants

And what does the Executive Search recruitment process look like from the Consultant’s perspective?

1. Understanding the needs of the Client 

The first step is to thoroughly understand the Client’s strategy and business objectives. Next, it is necessary to explore the organizational culture and work culture in a given company, as well as the necessary qualifications, the right personality, leadership qualities of the sought-after Candidate even before the recruitment process begins.

This data prepares the Consultant to create the best search strategy for a given company and a given position and also enables the preparation of the appropriate work schedule at the agency so that the Client can properly plan business activities on its side.

2. Proactive talent acquisition

Executive Candidates often do not actively search for new job opportunities. Therefore, Executive Search Consultants take a proactive approach to identifying and engaging potential Candidates through targeted networking, industry events and referral networks but most importantly, industry knowledge.

Building and nurturing relationships with top talent is critical to ensuring a strong pool of qualified Candidates for current and future executive positions.

3. Assessment and evaluation of Candidates

When selecting Candidates for executive positions, it is important to look beyond their technical skills and experience. Experienced Executive Search Consultants evaluate a Candidate’s leadership abilities, whether they will fit into the company’s culture and whether they have the potential to succeed in the long term and/or be associated with the company for the long term. Conducting behavioral interviews, psychometric assessments can provide valuable information about a Candidate’s suitability for the position and their potential interactions within the organization. Different nationalities come to the issue of testing differently but, for example, in Dutch, Danish, Scandinavian companies as well as German-speaking companies, they are often an integral part of the global recruitment process.

4. Transparency and communication

It is essential to maintain open and transparent communication throughout the recruitment process. Executive Search Consultants report on the progress of the process and any difficulties or change in recruitment strategy at established time frames. This is why it is important to clearly establish the Client’s expectations in this regard from the very beginning (I meet Clients who need information more than once a week and there are also those who want to see only the Short List and do not like weekly status reports). At this stage, the information for the Client meets the information for the Candidate on the progress of the recruitment and, properly conducted, makes it possible to “keep the Candidate interested” in the offer for a long time. This is particularly important for recruiting for top positions (C-Level), which are often a major investment in the Client’s Company and the final hiring decision sometimes comes several months after the recruitment is launched.

5. Building long-term relationships

Executive recruitment is not just about filling immediate vacancies. It involves establishing long-term relationships with both clients and candidates. It is an investment that benefits both parties, helping clients achieve their business goals and providing candidates with a stable career path that allows them to grow and achieve their goals.

Therefore, I believe that executive search consultants should prioritize trust, integrity, and personalized relationships to gain the loyalty and respect of their stakeholders. By doing so, recruiters can position themselves as trusted advisors and strategic partners in the executive recruitment process.

In summary, the executive search recruitment process is a dynamic and multi-faceted journey that requires careful navigation by both candidates and recruiters. Organizations can attract top talent, drive successful recruiting that drives growth and innovation by understanding the perspectives and priorities of executive candidates, and adhering to best practices in recruiting.

Through collaboration, communication, and the pursuit of excellence, executive search consultants can improve the recruiting experience for both candidates and clients.

Ewa Adamczyk

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