“Berwick Partners' MD, Richard Love, writes in the Grapevine about trends in executive recruitment….”

Published: 10 February 2012

Recruiters must adapt to the trends of the market

A difficult market means opportunity for the specialists….

The UK market for senior management and executive level search is still alive and moving – albeit with distinct caution.

From middle management to executive levels, hiring is a more challenging exercise than it has ever been. Put simply, once employers have taken the decision to replace or grow they are only focussed on attracting the perfect candidate. They want proven expertise, a strong cultural match, value for money, a 100% per cent fit with no risk attached or ancillary issues such as relocation or lengthy notice periods.

Understandably, clients believe that talent is plentiful in the current market.  However, the reality is somewhat different.  The migration of advertised selection from print to the fragmented and overcrowded online world is one factor.  There is also a fundamental skills shortage in areas that have declined in recent years such as manufacturing and engineering.  Conversely, there are areas that are growing exponentially where the talent supply cannot catch up, such as online gaming. There is also risk aversion in the candidate community that has hitherto not been seen; for many candidates it is a case of “better the devil you know”.

As a result, the need for expert support in senior level recruitment has increased substantially. Provided they truly are experts. A scarcity of quality candidates, combined with demands for quicker and better results from clients means that recruitment companies must adapt or die.

The firms who will prosper in 2012 and beyond are those who embrace specialisation. Focussing on specific market sectors, understanding trends, characteristics and the DNA of both client and target companies is essential.  Deep knowledge of any given space will be essential in order to construct quality shortlists more quickly then ever before,

Tools such as LinkedIn will not threaten specialists to any great degree as they make public profiles more accessible.  Rather, the challenge lies in engaging talented individuals who are in demand.  Recruiters will need to use an in-depth comprehension of the market place in order to encourage candidates’ interest in any given role. 

Therefore, 2012 will present significant opportunities for specialists and experts alike.  However, success will be hard won and only delivered through the accrual of genuine knowledge, passion and a personal reputation in any given field.

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