Executive recruitment in the digital age

Published: 7 June 2016

The world of executive search, and how executive search professionals engage with their audience, has evolved remarkably in many ways over recent years. One of the most significant is the role that digital marketing and online technology now plays in helping identify and attract potential candidates for executive and senior management roles. 

Once the domain of the executive head-hunter’s ‘black-book’, and the national broadsheets, many senior opportunities are now proactively marketed in a much more open and fast-paced manner. And whilst the hard copy ‘black-book’ may have gone, it has been replaced with a digital version, in the form of company databases and websites such as LinkedIn. For those that want to get into such networks, and stand out from an ever-increasing pool, it is vital to create a profile that promotes your experience and abilities in a compelling manner. 

As a specialist in leadership roles in the UK’s Manufacturing & Engineering sectors I see how effective it can be to harness digital media – to both progress an individual’s career, and strengthen an organisation’s leadership team. Aligned to the traditional exercises of head-hunting and networking, it has become a key part of the recruitment strategy that we recommend to organisations we work with. 

Well executed executive search will identify, approach and engage our target candidates; this will consist of both active and passive jobseekers as well as those not visible through mainstream channels. Promoting the position online, on the most relevant sites, is done specifically to attract high-calibre individuals who are opportunistically searching for a step-up in their career. These individuals may well sit outside our head-hunt target list – particularly if their location or current employer is not an initial match – but who may in fact offer a strong fit to our requirement. Used together, these processes are focussed on identifying and attracting a broad cross-section of experience. This can be particularly attractive to organisations that are open-minded about industry experience, and want to generate diversity in their leadership team.  

As a candidate, having an up-to-date and compelling LinkedIn profile puts you on the potential radar of executive search organisations such as ours. Individuals looking to progress their careers, but without the opportunity to do so with their current employer, may find using LinkedIn and an opportunistic approach to applying for roles, a very useful way to achieve that next step-up.

Significantly, individuals who are internationally mobile now have much greater visibility of opportunities being advertised in their target countries. This is equally useful for individuals looking to relocate internationally and for clients that are keen to cast the net wider than their own country to find the ‘perfect’ candidate. 

So, from our experience, the message is clear – being proactive and strategic in your approach to using digital media can help both individuals and companies alike, especially where it is part of a broader multi-channel search and selection process. 

Jonathan Burke is a specialist in recruiting leadership roles within the UK’s Manufacturing and Engineering sectors, and is part of the Manufacturing Practice at Berwick Partners.

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