An existential threat? Probably not, for now

16 July 2015

Most candidates will be aware that more and more companies are investing in dedicated in-house talent/recruitment teams to conduct searches and approach candidates direct (often on behalf of the hiring manager).  One experienced and heavyweight communications director I spoke to recently said he had been approached about a number of roles, and not one of them had been via a headhunter.  This trend is particularly pronounced in the digital/tech companies who have to be seen to be practicing what they preach.

Does this represent an existential threat to the executive search industry?  Well, probably not for the time being for the simple reason that, with the odd exception, it is not being done very well.  The aforementioned candidate had had some interesting experiences.  He observed that in a couple of instances the in-house recruiter pitched the job one way and then the hiring manager gave a completely different version of the role and their requirement.  This is not unrepresentative, and it creates an experience that does not reflect well on the employer and does nothing to enhance the employer’s brand.  It is also a waste of the time of all those affected and when a cost/benefit analysis is undertaken at the end of the year, assuming it is, there will be some companies questioning the ROI on the investment and its effectiveness (at sourcing the best and most suitable talent) as an in-house process.

So it could go one of two ways – either there is further investment and effort in creating a more professional ‘service’ or there will be a (partial) return to more tried and trusted formulas.

As the aforementioned candidate observed to me, “in both cases someone like yourself could have worked with the hiring manager to really understand what they wanted and translated that into a perspective on candidate level, experience, remuneration etc”.

With all the advances that digital (AI etc) is bringing it is a fool that predicts the future and the pace at which things will change but, for the time being, there will clearly be a role for the headhunter that can provide valuable insight (including market mapping), intelligence and data.

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