Category: Executive Search

What is the main contribution of headhunters to companies?

The members of the InterSearch Board of Directors answered this question for us. They highlighted the field of action of executive search firms from “identifying and recruiting senior executives to greatly enhance the talent pool” to “a highly holistic and sophisticated service offering” and “supporting the international expansion thanks to the most professional local and global knowledge”.

Like any service, the one offered by headhunters can be measured and qualified according to the contribution they provide to their clients, that is, to companies that seek to add a new executive to their ranks.

Frank Schelstraete, Chairman of the InterSearch organization:

Every organization needs leadership and for over 30 years InterSearch has partnered with thousands of companies worldwide to identify and assess their top-profiled executives. Among several good reasons why it’s advisable to use a headhunting firm, I would draw attention to the following circumstances:

Frank Schelstraete: “Change” is the new normal and it happens faster and faster.

The economy has shifted from energy driven to information-driven (digitization, Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence), the market demands more sustainable solutions to produce and sell products and services, Diversity & Inclusion rapidly became a major factor to attract and retain clients and candidates. These and further quick changes require Executives who can keep pace with the speed of change and innovation, leaders who will have to plan and anticipate, which is probably the only way to create sustainable value for stakeholders. This calls for a constant review of a company’s leadership potential – within the firm as well as in the outside job market – requires the support of headhunting firms to be effective and always a step ahead of the competitors.

Succession planning within companies is also of utmost importance, especially within Big Family steered firms. This needs a thorough analysis by a specialized consultant, a deep assessment of the potential within the firm (including family members), careful research to find external candidates and, finally, the right advice to guide the client towards the best choice for the future of the business.

The business environment has become highly international.

Whatever the size of the company, one of the development keys for many companies nowadays is having an international footprint. At this stage, a good headhunter with multicultural mindset and deep knowledge of local job markets can make a difference because its researchers and consultants are definitely qualified to find the right talent everywhere in the world, inform the client company about the local talent pool and advise on the most appealing compensation packages either in case of ex-pats or foreign candidates.

The current candidate’s driven market requires big investments in terms of resources, time, energy and corporate branding: using a good headhunting company helps the client to spare strategic resources, meet only those candidates for Executive positions who really match the ideal profile, and later choose the ones who perfectly fit the company culture and strategy.

Peter Waite: “Executive search firms can identify and approach hard-to-find candidates”

“Executive search firms can help companies identify and recruit senior executives to greatly enhance the talent pool. In a tight job market, particularly in Asia-Pacific and many Western countries, it’s hard to find high-quality executives and convince them to leave their current company.

An experienced search firm with an excellent reputation can work with a company to help with organizational structure and use research techniques to identify, approach, interview and recommend the right candidates. Although many companies have their own talent acquisition teams, if a candidate from a competitor is approached, the candidate is often very reluctant to respond because of concerns about confidentiality and jeopardizing their current employment. Therefore, by using an honest third party, such as a reputable executive search firm, the candidate is more likely to participate in discussions as long as confidentiality is guaranteed. Executive search firms have numerous research techniques and don’t just rely on LinkedIn to identify candidates – they can identify and approach hard-to-find candidates, especially in specialized roles that may be under the radar.”

Alexander Wilhelm: From “provider of candidates” to “acting as a consultant in the HR strategy”

I would respond with different answers, depending on the relationship with the customer:

  • Provider of relevant candidates based on specific profiles (that’s mostly the situation).
  • Having a long-standing association, also guide the clients in their search processes and act as a consultant for the current candidate market.
  • Having a real partnership for a long time and acting as a consultant in the HR strategy of clients, also in case of long-term replacement (i.e. at the time of retirement), as well as in people development, creating new job profiles, looking for the right people and not ‘just candidates’”.

Jyorden Misra: “The old image of just being a ‘headhunter’ is fading fast”

“’Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person,’ said one of the inspirations of the executive search industry, Edwin Booz, co-founder of Booz Allen Hamilton, in 1914. The pandemic has forced CEOs around the world to think dynamically in tandem with the rapidly changing business environment. Business leaders are now putting digital transformation, innovative cultures, and developing a new generation of leaders high on their agendas. Making these critical decisions requires a thorough understanding of the rapid currents of the market and forecasting the future. This creates a need for a well-equipped, trusted partner who understands the organization at a fundamental level and provides future-ready talent solutions to help the client.

Search is a dynamic concept: Tightly cradled with culture, traditional command structures are increasingly giving way to a more collaborative and consensus-based co-authorship management style. Both the teams and the markets have moved away from an ‘everything under one roof’ formula. In most cases, employees can be located anywhere, and customers can also access products and services from virtually anywhere. This means a big change in the way organizations are structured and operate, triggering a transformative shift in their cultural paradigm. How do you keep the spirit of camaraderie, team connections and motivation high with just the sounds and sights of virtuality, but no touching or feeling of reality? A more conventionally conditioned official would struggle in such scenarios. Similarly, it becomes vitally important for search firms to accurately assess the culture to determine a safe and most comprehensive fit. It is an established fact that 70% of people who fail in any organization worldwide do so because of a cultural mismatch. Cracking the code and reading the cultural contours, both existing and anticipated, is key.

The old image of just being a ‘headhunter’ is fading fast. Current needs require advice on a broader basis, e.g. talent assessment of the client’s competition in the market, talent audit of the client’s own company (compared to industry standards), advice on efficiency and effectiveness, leadership succession planning, culture assessment, and more.

Leadership Talent: The critical (search) differentiator in executive search, in its true form, is a highly holistic and sophisticated service offering. You have a profound capacity to absorb, proven characteristics to discern, the ability to deploy organic tools, and the awareness to connect on a human level. This combination, in its final analysis, is the most powerful and valuable asset that search, as “human software”, successfully delivers. There is invaluable value in human perception, judgment, discernment, and appreciation of nuance that an algorithm cannot replace. From resume screening to background screening, technology can provide a huge boost. When it comes to helping choose the best option among great candidates, technology allows you to do it well, but it soon reaches its limits. There are too many immeasurable details between the conscious, the subconscious and the sublime that require a human being to be in that process. The catalyst and the bridge in this case is the search consultant. These are the issues that today’s leaders will need to plan for and consider in the future. The pandemic has been a driver to test and realign leadership mettle and metrics. “A knife of the sharpest steel requires the whetstone, and the wisest man needs advice.” These ancient and insightful words from Zoroaster capture the essence of where the leadership talent search profession is today and the direction it is headed.”

Leslie Cooper: “It allows access to high-level talent”

“Hiring a headhunter is beneficial for a company since it has an advisor who supports companies in their talent search and selection processes, making the approach objective, specialized and personalized. It allows access to high-level talent, saves time and resources, guarantees confidentiality, and provides specialized advice that facilitates negotiation and closing. Headhunters’ knowledge of labor market trends allows them to provide information and strategic advice helping the company stay competitive in their search for professionals. They are companies that have experience and specialized in-depth knowledge of the labor market, industries, and executives, which allows them to understand the needs of the client company and find the most suitable candidates based on the requirements of the position and the organizational culture. In addition, they can provide valuable information on the availability of talent, salary trends, the most in-demand skills and other relevant data.

Through a headhunter, access to high-level talent is achieved also thanks to a wide network of contacts and access to highly qualified candidates that may not be so easily reached through traditional recruitment channels. They have the ability to attract and motivate professionals with successful experience and attractive skills who are not actively seeking a job change and who can be a great asset to the company. This broadens the company’s recruiting reach and increases the chances of finding the best talent.

Those of us who are part of international networks can accompany our clients in the search for global talent. We can identify and attract international candidates, facilitating the hiring of talent specialized in less developed functions or expertise in our country, as well as accompanying our clients in the formation of their teams in other countries.

In some cases, the company is not able to contact candidates due to the required confidentiality of a senior executive. A headhunter can guarantee confidentiality and manage the search in a confidential manner, protecting the interests and reputation of the company.

Headhunters are companies that are trained to objectively and thoroughly evaluate candidates using different evaluation techniques, such as in-depth interviews and reference checks, to ensure that the proposed candidates meet the company’s requirements both in terms of technical and relational skills as well as cultural fit. Such expertise in finding candidates who fit the profile and culture of the client company reduces the risk of a bad hire and increases the chances of long-term success.

Their role is also to be an intermediary between the company and the candidate, facilitating salary negotiations and other benefits. Their experience in managing these negotiations can help ensure that both parties reach a satisfactory agreement and that the contracting process closes effectively.

Headhunters are not only in charge of identifying and attracting talent, but they also help in the insertion and onboarding process of the new executive. This can include regular follow-up to make sure the transition is successful and that both the candidate and the company are happy with the hire.”


About InterSearch

InterSearch Worldwide is a global organization of executive search firms consistently ranked amongst the largest retained executive search practices in the world. InterSearch is currently operating with over 90 offices in more than 50 countries, able to operate in 70+. Established in 1989 in the UK, InterSearch carefully selects the best executive search firms to partner with as a member of a global entity with high integrity, transparency, and depth of experience. InterSearch prides itself on having a global reach with local impact.

From Brown to Green: Recruitment then and now

Sjur Sekse, a prominent figure in recruitment and executive search within the energy, technology, and industrial sectors, has witnessed significant changes in the recruitment landscape over the past three decades. In this interview, we delve into Sjur’s journey from the establishment of Sekse & Hogstad to his current venture, InterSearch Norway, and explore the important transformations and enduring similarities in the recruitment process.

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Artificial intelligence will not replace executive search experts

Interview of InterSearch Executive Consultants Germany with Henri Vidalinc, President of Grant Alexander (French member of InterSearch Worldwide).

Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently the talk of the town, and there is still no end in sight to the hype surrounding programs like ChatGPT. Can AI also replace jobs in executive search? Or if not replace, then complement and support them? If Henri Vidalinc of InterSearch France has his way, AI should do exactly that. He says artificial intelligence can already support the headhunting process, for example, in the search for candidates or with tasks that do not require soft skills, but the AI will not completely replace anyone, even in the long term.

“Our work is essentially shaped by our understanding of the client’s needs, providing advice and proposing tailor-made solutions, and this can only be done through a good, professional relationship between consultant and client, but also one that is based on proximity” Vidalinc says. “That’s exactly what AI can’t do.”

For an executive search firm like InterSearch, he says, it is therefore important to train employees to work with an AI program like ChatGPT, but also to strengthen and empower them in their consulting role.

A young member of the global InterSearch network

With offices in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Nantes, as well as in Ivory Coast, Vidalinc and his colleagues have been part of the InterSearch network since 2022, making their firm one of the youngest members. The approximately 75 employees at InterSearch – Grant Alexander not only specialize in executive search, but also offer interim management, leadership development, and consulting in HR transformation.

“We are already well positioned and have an excellent reputation in both France and West Africa, but we wanted to broaden our international reach,”

explains Vidalinc.

Often, the tendency to work only with direct neighbors becomes entrenched, for example, between France and Germany, Belgium or Italy, but due to the internationality of InterSearch with a presence in over 50 countries, one must now think outside the box, says Vidalinc. He cites a success story: a manufacturing company that operates in some 30 countries needed new managers not only in France, but also in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and South Africa. This is precisely where the InterSearch colleagues based in these respective countries came into play and were able to successfully fill the vacant positions quickly.

“InterSearch Worldwide sets high standards that the partners in the individual countries have to meet. In the case of France, it was decided to choose a new partner and Grant Alexander, after a thorough selection process, was taken on board”

adds Alexander Wilhelm, Managing Partner at InterSearch in Germany and Member of the Board at InterSearch Worldwide. He was recently able to attest to the convincing quality of the French colleagues in the context of a search mandate for a managing director in France for a well-known medium-sized company from Germany.

COO for unification of standards

“There are of course small, subtle differences in approach within the various countries,” says Vidalinc, “but it is precisely this understanding that distinguishes InterSearch worldwide and contributes to our success and that of our clients.”

To further unify the approach and support for clients and candidates within the company, Vidalinc recently hired a chief operating officer in France. His task is to ensure that all parties have the same high level of understanding of how demanding clients and candidates are looked after, be it regarding position profiles, reports, interviews or candidate introductions, in order to offer the best possible experience. “Deviating nuances are of course desired, we are all humans, not robots.” And that’s how it should stay, says Vidalinc.

Henri Vidalinc, InterSearch France

About InterSearch Executive Consultants

InterSearch Executive Consultants is one of the leading personnel consultancies and specializes in the recruitment of executives (Executive Search) and systematic analyses of executive potential (Management Audit / Executive Diagnostic). Founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personalberatung”, the company is now represented in Germany with three offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Cologne and was a founding partner of InterSearch Worldwide in 1989. Today, InterSearch operates worldwide in the field of executive search with more than 600 consultants in over 50 countries with more than 90 locations.


About Grant Alexander

For over 30 years, Grant Alexander has been a partner in the performance of organisations and their leaders, providing them with comprehensive support for all their skills management and development needs, always with a tailor-made response.

A multi-specialist HR consulting and services group, with 4 activities (Executive Search, Executive Interim, Leadership Development, HR & Organisation Transformation), it operates in all sectors, on all functions (managers/experts /rare profiles), throughout the world. It has several offices in France (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse), an office in Abidjan for Africa, and is an active member of Intersearch, of which it is the exclusive partner in France.

A socially committed player, Grant Alexander is Lucie 26000 certified.

Our mission: “We are committed, every day, to enable organisations and their leaders to build an enthusiastic future by opening up new perspectives and helping them to develop their full potential.”


How to create a positive candidate experience during the hiring process

Article of the US member of InterSearch Worldwide, Charles Aris.

When your organization is working to fill a mission-critical role, the hiring process is your chance to leave a lasting impression on both your winning candidates and your runners-up.

Creating a positive candidate experience during the interview process will ensure that your interviewees gain a multifaceted understanding of your organization should they land the role, and it gives those who weren’t a fit for your current opening an incentive to apply for future roles, recommend a friend or up your company’s reputation.

In our career conversations with executives across our areas of expertise, we’ve consistently heard there are two factors that contribute to a positive candidate experience: transparency and efficiency.

Keep your candidates in-the-know:

The most valuable individuals in the job market are either interviewing for multiple positions or they’re already in a role. In both scenarios, your job as a hiring authority is to convince them that your opportunity presents a better career path. One of the best ways to achieve this is to practice transparency from day one.

Every candidate wants to know the details about your hiring process so they can plan and manage their own expectations accordingly. Being clear on the hiring timeline, explaining how they’re being evaluated and having availability to answer ad hoc questions along the way tells a candidate that your organization is prepared and sees enough value in them to dedicate resources to the process, even before they receive an offer letter.

Plan the hiring process accordingly:

Time management is a critical component in the hiring process. When interviews are efficient and candidates know when to expect to follow ups, they see that you are being respectful of their time and that you’re invested in their candidacy. Scheduling time for feedback, both for the candidate and for your organization, is also important for candidate experience. Postponing a candidate’s opportunity to hear about their performance or evaluate your organization can leave both parties feeling disconnected.

If your hiring plan is clear from start to finish, and your candidates receive a copy of the timeline, your process will function efficiently. Delays are inevitable, but keeping an open line of communication between yourself and the candidate and being candid about why these delays occur is the best way to stay on top of schedules.

The takeaway:

Candidate experience can make or break an organization. At Charles Aris, we’ve successfully placed people into organizations years after initially connecting because they left with a lasting impression of the hiring process. If you’re interested in maintaining a good reputation on the talent market, start by engaging with candidates transparently and efficiently. Even candidates who don’t land the role will carry that experience with them to colleagues, clients and friends – and you never know if they’ll be a fit later down the road.

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