Executive search activity in the UK is significantly up on the levels of the last few years, with companies moving decisively into recruitment mode as the UK economy picks up.
Whilst this means that head hunters and providers of executive research are busy, the task of getting top candidates into new roles has, despite the uplift in activity, never been more challenging.
More and more senior executives are now happy to consider their next move and engage in serious discussions around a particular role, but ultimately persuading them to commit to a change of company is not always straightforward.
Mark Senior, Managing Director of Henley Research International, says there are a number of reasons for this. “Candidates are encouraged by an upturn in the economy and dusting down their CVs. When approached with a role they often show interest because they instinctively feel the time is right for a move – many executives have been with their current employers longer than they originally might have expected before the downturn.”
“When they get to shortlist or even offer stage and it’s decision time, however, it’s not uncommon for candidates to have second thoughts and withdraw. Some resolve to show loyalty to an existing employer that has looked after them through a difficult period and where they are known, resolving that, in any case, there will surely be other opportunities. Or in the end they may decide relocation is not for them as their family is settled in a particular area or because of uncertainties around access to finance in the mortgage market.”
“And at times the speed of the process from initial contact to short list and offer is something of a whirlwind process – companies want new executives quickly and head hunters are under pressure to complete searches often within a few short weeks. Sometimes this can be just too quick for someone making potentially a career- and life-changing decision.”
For those in executive search the messages are clear – we have to be more thorough and painstaking than ever in guiding our candidates through the process. Key questions have to be asked and answered throughout the ‘courtship’ to avoid unwanted surprises at an advanced stage. And perhaps we have to counsel companies desperate for new talent that patience may be required if the right outcome is to be achieved.