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Executive search trends 2019: Change, disruption and the gig economy

Executive search trends 2019: Change, disruption and the gig economy

“Hiring executive-level leaders is not as straight-forward as it once was,” says Charles-Henri Dumon, without a hint of nostalgia. 

In fact, he’s the very opposite – he’s excited! Over the past five years, Charles-Henri has built a successful talent solutions firm that’s dedicated to disrupting the headhunting, recruitment and talent consulting business model.

“Technology has changed the executive search game completely,” the CEO and Founder of Morgan Philips Group points out.

“There may now be more risks, regulations and a sense of uncertainty, but new technology offers executive search firms huge opportunity to add real value to their customers.”

For someone who has been in the headhunting and recruitment space for over 30 years, Charles-Henri has experienced his fair share of change already – but he believes more change is on its way come 2019. 

We caught up with Charles-Henri to find out his predictions for the executive search market in the New Year.

Headhunters will target the gig economy.

With today’s technology, people now have the freedom to work wherever and however they please – and, as a result, the gig economy has skyrocketed.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 40.4% of the total workforce now have ‘contingent’ jobs; and research by Edelman Intelligence found 47% of working millennials in the U.S. now freelance in some capacity. This is expected to rise to just over a half of the total U.S. working population by the year 2027.

“Up until now, the vast majority of executive-level and business-critical hires have been for permanent roles, but this will change,” says Charles-Henri.

“The freelancing and contracting market is evolving, with more and more senior and junior leaders choosing to adopt different lifestyles from their predecessors. The gig economy offers huge potential for businesses to tap into, and this year we will see headhunters focus even more attention on this market.”

Organisations will demand a one-stop-shop.

In a business environment that’s centred on change and disruption, organisations are now demanding more from their executive search partners than merely connecting them with supposedly suitable candidates, says Charles-Henri.

“An ‘old boys club’ approach to search and selection is no longer good enough. Organisations want evidence-based insights of a candidate’s suitability to the role – and to the company’s culture.”

“Search firms that offer a range of services will stand out in the market – from psychometric assessment tools through to coaching, development and outplacement services, to succession planning and talent consulting.”

“I was never a big believer in a one-stop-shop approach to executive search. I always held the opinion that it’s better to do one thing really well. But in our highly uncertain business landscape, organisations need more reassurance that a new hire is the right fit than relying on their gut instincts alone.”

The hiring process will become more complex.

Over the past decade, the make-up of a successful leader has become increasingly complex, says Charles-Henri.

“Rather than restricting themselves to their traditional job roles or functions, organisations need leaders that are agile in their thinking, eager to embrace change and comfortable navigating their way through murky waters.” 

And now, with the lack of diversity in board members and senior leadership teams coming under public scrutiny, there’s a huge amount of pressure on organisations to hire people from a more diverse range of backgrounds.

“To find the right people, it’s paramount that organisations define why they exist – the reason why they do what they do. With a purpose in place, organisations are far better prepared to make hiring decisions, as senior leaders need to be aligned with, and inspired by, their organisation’s purpose.”

“We’re currently in the process of building our own organisational purpose to help drive our strategy, structure and decision-making processes, as well as strengthen our customer and stakeholder relationships.”

Organisations want hard evidence of soft skills. 

To run successful teams, leaders need to possess the ability to empathise, motivate and influence. And for that, they need a high calibre of emotional intelligence (EQ), Charles-Henri points out.

“In the 80s and 90s, the only things discussed when assessing a candidate’s suitability to a role was the hard skills – such as their work experience, technical skills and qualifications. But, nowadays, soft skills and cultural fit are just as important,” he says.

“As job functions and teams become less siloed and more collaborative in nature, leaders need to be continuously coaching and developing their teams, so the demand for softer skills has become a modern necessity.”

Businesses want more bang for their buck.

Executive search firms have always charged hefty fees when placing candidates, but Charles-Henri believes organisations’ expectations have evolved.

“Search firms have been charging 33% of a candidate’s annual salary for decades now. But there has been very little commitment within the sector to test out new approaches or invest in new solutions. As a result, innovation in the executive search market has remained relatively stagnant.”

“Organisations need search partners that are fast-moving and agile, with the ability to combine traditional, tried and tested search methodology with the latest technology and data-driven insights.”

For instance, Morgan Philips Executive Search employs an innovative crowdsourcing recruitment model when identifying potential candidates for critical hires to ensure the most suitable business leaders end up on the shortlist. 

“Club 5000 is our own unique community of C-level experts, giving our clients access to over 5,000 C-Suite professionals, handpicked for their know-how and specialist expertise.”

To find out more about Morgan Philips Executive Search and our model, click here.

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