Category: InterSearch Ireland

InterSearch Ireland
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Unlocking Talent and Insights: The Dual Role of Executive Recruiters

In a prior InterSearch news article, you may have encountered a discussion on the primary value that head hunters bring to organizations commented by the Board of Directors of InterSearch Worldwide. Today, we delve deeper into the reasons why executive search consultants closely monitor industry developments within their areas of specialization, enhancing their ability to provide optimal service to clients.

“Executive search consultants play a multifaceted role beyond talent acquisition; they serve as invaluable sources of market intelligence. Beyond identifying top talent, they provide clients with critical insights into industry trends, competitive landscapes, and emerging opportunities. This dual function helps organizations make strategic decisions and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving business world. At InterSearch Ireland, we prioritize our commitment to the Life Sciences sector, which is why we maintain a vigilant watch over industry developments, including noteworthy events such as the recent approval of Amgen’s $27.8 billion (€25.8 billion) acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, based in Dublin.” – says Micheál Coughlan, Managing Partner of InterSearch Ireland, initiator of Life Sciences & Healthcare Practice Group of InterSearch Worldwide.

Let’s see the reasons, why an executive search consultant shall follow the news of an industry:

Industry Knowledge: Staying informed about industry news and trends allows the consultant to develop a deep understanding of the sector they are serving. This knowledge is crucial for identifying top talent, understanding the specific challenges and opportunities within the industry, and making informed recommendations to clients.

Identifying Top Talent: Being up to date on industry news helps the consultant identify high-potential candidates who are making significant contributions or advancements within the sector. This can lead to more effective and targeted searches for executive talent.

Client Trust: Clients rely on executive search consultants to provide valuable insights and expertise. By staying informed about industry developments, consultants can build trust with clients, demonstrating their commitment to delivering the best possible candidates who are well-suited to the industry’s current and future needs.

Understanding Competitive Landscape: Knowing what competitors are doing, industry disruptors, and emerging technologies or business models allows consultants to advise clients on how to stay competitive in the market and recruit executives who can drive innovation and adapt to changing landscapes.

Cultural Fit: In addition to industry-specific skills and experience, executive search consultants often need to assess cultural fit when matching candidates with organizations. Understanding industry dynamics and corporate cultures helps consultants make more accurate assessments in this regard.

Targeted Networking: Keeping up with industry news also helps consultants identify key players, influencers, and industry associations. This can be invaluable for networking and building relationships with potential candidates and clients.

Market Insights: Consultants can provide clients with valuable market insights, including salary trends, compensation packages, and other competitive factors that can affect recruitment and talent retention.

Niche Specialization: Some executive search consultants specialize in specific industries or niches. Staying informed about industry news is essential in such cases because the consultant’s expertise and reputation often hinge on their in-depth knowledge of that particular sector.

Adaptability: Industries are constantly evolving. Staying informed ensures that the consultant can adapt to changes and shifts in the industry’s landscape, making them more agile and effective in their search efforts.

Keeping abreast of industry news isn’t just beneficial; it’s a crucial part of the role of executive search consultants. It enhances their ability to provide valuable insights, identify top talent, and help clients navigate the complexities of their specific industry.


“InterSearch Worldwide, through its 11 Global Practice Groups, empowers its executive recruiters and researchers to remain well-informed about various industry sectors and facilitates the exchange of global market insights”. – adds Leslie Cooper, InterSearch Board Director responsible for Practice Groups.

Follow our social media channels on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter not to miss the industry insights.

“Even multinationals require the help of executive search” – Interview of InterSearch Germany with Micheál Coughlan, InterSearch Ireland

Consultants need a sense of the non-verbal

Sometimes unexpected paths can lead to the right professional decisions. Micheál Coughlan, Managing Partner at InterSearch Ireland and member of the board of InterSearch Worldwide, knows this well. Never planning a career as a recruiter himself, he caught the attention of InterSearch while he was a candidate for one of its clients. “It did not work out with the position I was applying for, but the consultant must have recognized my potential as an executive search consultant,” says Coughlan. In addition to convincing communication skills, he believes that this includes above all a keen sense of nonverbal signs and gestures. To assess whether a candidate is a good “fit,” the hard facts are simply not enough. “This is one of the problems young applicants in our industry are facing. While they often have excellent technical skills, they sometimes lack communication and people skills. We have become very accustomed to video interviews but unfortunately, a lot can get lost in these digital processes,” Coughlan explains. In his experience, the most important decisions for or against candidates are often made during the coffee break or the five minutes before the appointment. Whether the chemistry is right can often only be determined in a personal meeting.


It is all about asking the right questions

According to Coughlan, listening and formulating the right questions are among the most underrated skills for personnel consultants. Certain questions are rightly off limits, but if you want to find out about a candidate’s family situation to gauge whether the job is a good fit, you need to be sensitive. Coughlan explains: “If a position requires the candidate to relocate, for example, I can ask questions along the lines of, ‘Who else would be affected by your move?’ This way I can find out if a family or, say, school-aged children need to be considered.” According to Coughlan, the really substantive questions start coming up once you have identified the top two candidates. Therefore, it is most expedient to phrase them in a way such as to identify potential obstacles that might prevent candidates from taking a job. Making them feel like they are under scrutiny, on the other hand, is not the right way to go. “Ideally, you can work together to remove obstacles,” says Coughlan.


Informal conversations are part of the process in Ireland

To gauge whether an applicant is a good fit for the team, more informal settings are often chosen as part of the hiring process in Ireland. “Sometimes, people meet again for a dinner and bring their respective partners. On these occasions, people talk about more than just work and get to know each other in a completely different way. A person is more than just his or her career – you have to understand them holistically,” says Coughlan. Even in more formal interviews, consultants usually start with a more casual chat about informal topics to make the applicants feel comfortable. Because Ireland is very small, people tend to share a lot in common, which is a good basis for small talk. But this is not the norm everywhere, Coughlan recalls: “I was abroad for a meeting at the Irish Embassy with an international colleague. She was completely shocked at the informal conversation that took place in the first 15 minutes. All the Irish colleagues, on the other hand, found the conversation pleasant and nothing out of the ordinary.”


Better employee retention makes candidates less likely to change jobs

Recruiters in Ireland have witnessed a number of changes in recent years – many of them driven by the strong candidate market. For one, the number of counteroffers that candidates have been receiving, has increased. “Right now, companies are trying to retain talent at all costs and match or beat salary offers,” Coughlan says. Candidates are also less open to interviews overall because many companies have started to take employee retention very seriously. Large multinationals – U.S. companies in particular – are far ahead in this regard. They have greater resources available to identify talent and promote it.


Even multinationals require the help of executive search

Interestingly, it is large multinational corporations that have been increasingly using InterSearch’s services for the past year or so. “These companies actually run their own recruiting programs. But they are simply overwhelmed with the number of vacancies they need to fill at the same time. So, they are tasking outside firms with the most critical searches – especially when they want to poach talent from competitors,” Coughlan explains. To be sure, the impact of inflation and the Ukraine war on certain industries will be a significant drag on growth and some industries are already feeling it. Coughlan says: “This will definitely affect the staffing situation. Currently, however, demand in Ireland is still greater than supply.”


Executive search consultants contribute to the lives of candidates

“The real reward for consultants is the validation of having made a small contribution to a person’s life and career,” Coughlan says. He experienced this himself a few years ago when searching for an operations manager for an Irish manufacturer of agricultural machinery. They found a suitable candidate who was in the Middle East at the time and later found that he was very familiar with the client. He had used and repaired this very machinery as a child on his father’s farm. “This candidate was perfect for the role. Not only was he qualified, but he had the necessary passion for the product. He then moved the whole family back to Ireland – it really was the perfect fit.”


Micheál Coughlan

Micheál Coughlan has been an indispensable part of the international InterSearch network since joining InterSearch Ireland as a junior consultant in 1996. He joined the Board in 2017 and was most recently confirmed in 2020. He is primarily active in the Life Sciences and Manufacturing sectors.

He is the initiator of the InterSearch Life Sciences & Healthcare Practice Group, supporting clients and candidates within the pharmaceutical, medical technologies and healthcare sectors. He has worked with a variety of organizations designing and implementing recruitment strategies for leadership and management appointments. Many of these assignments involve multi-country search. Micheál joined the Academy team in 2013 where he is responsible for training and development of talent within the InterSearch Worldwide organisation. Micheál holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from NUI Galway and a master’s degree in human resources management from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Ireland in numbers

GDP: USD 498.9 billion
Economic growth: 13.5% compared to the previous year
Per capita annual income: approx. 99,013 USD

Inflation rate: + 2.4 % compared to the previous year
Unemployment rate: 6.3%
Employees in the service sector: approx. 77 %.
Source: Statista 2021

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