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The Future Of Executive Search

June 2021
Jan-Bart Smits
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How Stanton Chase is meeting the latest industry trends head-on

Following a challenging 2020, the executive search industry has re-evaluated its role in society and how to improve our value proposition. Here we take a look at how executive search contributes to our clients’ success and how the industry can evolve in the “next normal.”

Traditionally, an executive search firm is retained to access top leadership candidates with the professional network, robust resources, and expert know-how to attract, assess, and appoint these candidates to a specific position in a client company.

Executive search firms usually fall into one of two categories: a specialized boutique or a centralized corporate firm with numerous offices and various sector-focused consultants. Why not select a hybrid of the two? Should a company prefer hands-on attention with the global reach and brand recognition of a top 20 global executive search firm, then look for an international network member firm. These days, even large international clients reach out to us because they value the directness and entrepreneurship of a business owner who can leverage the global presence of a well-structured organization. In many cases, Stanton Chase provides this compelling proposition because of our well-organized global practice groups and full-service offerings in search, assessment, and board services.

While online tools such as LinkedIn have disrupted the traditional value proposition of exclusive access to a (closed) professional network – or, more accurately, to a headhunter’s private Rolodex –it should be kept in mind that executive search is both an art and a science.

Corporate organizations have found some success when directly approaching and hiring senior management level candidates. With corporate talent acquisition maturing at many companies, their workload and attention to a specific market is limited to the number of hours in a day. This is when a reputable executive search firm comes into play. Talent acquisition and executive search are all about finding a balanced partnership. Working as extended teams of search firms brings a huge amount of value to talent acquisition.

What can executive search as an industry do better to make a positive and lasting impact on our clients and society at large?

“Even large international clients reach out to us because they value the directness and entrepreneurship of a business owner who can leverage the global presence of a well-structured organization.”

Executive search needs its own set of modern and sophisticated digital tools.

At this moment, the most readily available software and systems are primarily for data storage, such as a CRM or Data Input for Applicant Tracking Systems and Online Psychometric Assessments. There has been progress in developing new tools, though it lags behind other industries which have less impact on the economy and society.

Digitalization has been slow to enter the executive search world. At Stanton Chase, we are constantly seeking and evaluating the latest tools and solutions to communicate with and manage our relationships with candidates, executives, and colleagues.

The industry must focus on quality, not quantity.

Skillfully assembling data, human insight, and professional reputation is the current trend in executive search methodologies. Interestingly, Stanton Chase has partnered with Ezekia, Hogan Assessments, Hofstede Insights, and SHL to deliver end-to-end solutions for our clients. This level of integration allows us to build a deep relationship as part of our client’s success stories. The goal is to be a trusted partner in their ecosystem rather than simply a vendor engaged on an ad-hoc basis.

Clients expect transparency, unique insights, and measurable results.

In every case, the high tempo of a search should not come by cutting corners or recycling candidates from other assignments. As a reputable and client-oriented firm, Stanton Chase always conducts thorough and original research to deliver the best fit-for-purpose leadership candidates.

Values-based leadership is the only way forward.

What became clear in 2020 is that companies led by management teams with a values-based culture not only survived but prospered. They focused on people and purpose, and in turn, their employees took the right actions with customers and other stakeholders. When evaluating candidates, Stanton Chase Consultants apply behavioral, cognitive, and cultural assessments to ensure only values-based leaders meet our clients.

About the Author:

Jan-Bart Smits the International Chair of Stanton Chase, the Global Practice Leader for Technology and Professional Services, and a Managing Partner of the Amsterdam office.

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