As October’s sunshine begins to creep its way through and we start to think about 2022 coming to an end, we reflect on the fact that it has been a rough year for organisations when it comes to recruiting executive talent.

We spoke to Andrew Telburn, Partner at the Reddin Group about how organisations are managing to find the best people during this acute candidate shortage, including the pitfalls to avoid!

“First of all, you are not imaging it. It has been a challenging period for organisations wanting to attract top talent, especially at the executive level,” Andrew says.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the level of job vacancies in February 2022 was 86% higher than in February 2020, prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fast forward to the end of August and job vacancies have decreased by 2.1% (10,000 vacancies) in the three months to August 2022.

“Despite the slight decrease in job vacancies this quarter, the level of job vacancies in August 2022 remained elevated. Job vacancies were 107.4% higher than they were in February 2020, prior to the start of the pandemic. The ongoing high level of vacancies reflects organisations across the economy indicating labour shortages and ongoing disruptions to operations, particularly in household goods and services industries.” ABS August 2022

So, there is little wonder that organisations are continuing to find executive talent search difficult.

Andrew stresses that in determining an approach to executive recruitment and when selecting a firm to partner with, organisations must fully understand what type of service is being provided. For instance, understanding the differences between ‘executive search’ and ‘executive recruitment.’

“While the two seem quite similar at first glance, the true differences between them can be easily overlooked and unfortunately some recruiters can ‘masquerade’ as search consultants without providing the full spectrum of services.

“For this reason, it’s important to understand what you are signing up to when you are working with a recruitment firm” he says.

While standard search through traditional recruitment channels is good at reaching active job seekers, research-based executive search is designed to cast a much wider (and more targeted net), hence the reason it’s often the preferred technique used when it comes to executive search.

Andrew further emphasises that before you set off on your recruitment journey in selecting a recruitment service, organisations must understand the baseline sourcing they require to get the outcome they want.

“Executive search is typically for senior executive roles, or specialist niche positions. It entails fully researching the market and developing a list of individuals to target from the organisations and industries that the hiring organisation wants to tap into. This sort of work will generate the best outcome for this level of seniority, but it will cost more. Therefore, recruitment firms engaging in this type of work offer longer placement guarantees. For example, a standard placement guarantee is often 6-months, whereas true executive search should be guaranteeing placement of 12-months,” Andrew says.

How To Know If Your Recruiter Is Engaging In Research-Based Search

Real, research-based search utilises the skills of discreet recruitment researchers who will develop a list of target names based on similar positions in a similar industry. This can include competitors. They build their list of potential candidates to be directly and discreetly approached. What follows is a search consultant undertaking a series of carefully choreographed confidential conversations with identified talent.

“Once an organisation has agreed the talent list with their search consultant, the way the talent is approached is critical, especially if you are working in a niche space with few direct competitors. You must ensure no fingerprints are left during this highly confidential process,” Andrew explains.

Recruiting in this manner is completely different from a standard executive search because it is the organisation attempting to woo or attract a candidate – effectively selling them the opportunity. However, as some point in the process their needs to be a subtle flip so the talent can be effectively and thoroughly interviewed.

“It is a delicate balance because you’ve invested time in researching then attracting a senior candidate (who perhaps wasn’t even looking for an opportunity), but there comes a point where the conversation must turn to an interview to ensure that the match is going to be the right fit for all concerned,” Andrew says.

Andrew believes that while it does take time, this type of search delivers the best outcomes for organisations and for executives placed in roles, so you must ensure you are getting what you are paying for.

“I have been in situations where we are recruiting for companies dealing with new and emerging technologies that have not reached Australian shores. These search techniques enable us to cast a broad net and target the talent overseas that is needed not just for today, but for tomorrow. While it is not a quick fix for an empty role, the results achieved are far superior to those that result from standard or traditional search techniques. The talent pool is greater and more fine-tuned meaning you are more likely to find what you are looking for.

“Unfortunately, while some recruiters say they perform executive search, in reality, it’s just an advertisement supported by networking and basic Linkedin searching- research based executive search as described above to canvass and approach target and develop a carefully targeted list of individuals is far more comprehensive and sophisticated than that!” he says.

Andrew’s advice is before engaging a recruitment firm, do some research yourself. Ask some questions and understand exactly how the search will be conducted. Know what you are signing up to so you can feel confident that the right outcome is coming your way.

Connect with Andrew to find out more about research-based executive search.