Adam White, COO and co-founder co-founder of disruptive executive research platform, Winter Circle.

Empowered in-house, Evolving agencies

It’s common practice for organisations to turn to recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to take care of their volume recruitment. It’s less common, however, to use the same resources for executive-level appointments. Factors such as the sensitivity of the roles in question, the need for proactive market mapping, and the higher level of candidate assessment and management mean that organisations have traditionally relied solely upon executive search firms for their more senior hires. 

But over the last five to 10 years, there has been a marked increase in the transition of talent from executive search firms to recruitment roles in-house. Their extensive experience and comprehensive contact books have always made them a highly desirable internal resource for businesses. And now, ongoing disruption within the recruitment industry means executive recruiters have genuine career alternatives to working their way up to partner within a firm. 

Savings and efficiencies

For businesses, there are significant cost savings to be made from no longer heavily relying on external search functions, of course. Not only will it save on the expense of consultancy fees but, by bringing its recruitment resource in-house, a company will be able to retain full ownership of the employee value proposition (EVP), along with any related IP or – most important of all – data.  

This transition from external to internal has, in part, been enabled by ongoing advances in recruitment and HR-related technology. Such advances mean that businesses are now much better able to not only handle executive search from within, but to benefit from it too.

At the same time, the move toward internal executive search teams has been bolstered by the number of new companies and services created with the single aim of supporting in-house recruitment teams. 

More viable than ever

There was once concern over whether in-house recruiters could manage the research part of the executive search process. The potential breadth of possible roles they would be required to cover, and the nuances and intricacies involved in identifying a specific candidate could often prove overwhelming for a recruiter without the resources of a dedicated agency behind them.

Today, though, not only do many organisations have the necessary resources and capacity to manage the search process themselves, but a new breed of disruptive HR-specific tools and services means it’s now a more viable option than ever. 

Using a digital executive research platform, for example, can augment the work of an organisation’s own internal search team. A dedicated and highly skilled team of researchers will help find, screen and engage candidates that match an organisation’s specific brief – offering full and transparent access throughout. Rather than managing the whole process from end-to-end, this third-party will then digitally ‘hand over’ the selected candidates to the in-house recruitment team, who will be able to connect directly with them at any time, regardless of where they’re located, in order to manage the interview, assessment and hiring process themselves.  

The expertise, experience and contacts of recruitment professionals makes them valuable assets for any company. But even just a decade ago, managing executive search in-house would have been considered a risky venture, due to a widespread lack of resource and support. Today, however, empowered by an increase in technology-led support services, investing in internal search teams makes sense for an increasing number of organisations. So where does this leave the external search industry?

Overall, the still-traditional parts of the industry are clearly in the midst of great change. But contrary to what some might make of the growth of in-house functions, external executive search firms are far from a dying breed. In fact, the disruption – largely driven by technological advances – has opened up many doors for new opportunities that will ultimately serve to boost innovation and fresh thinking. These days, businesses and search professionals alike have access to genuine alternative services and career paths, as opposed to the same stale options that have existed for decades. Now it’s simply a question of whether more individuals and companies decide to embrace this revolution.

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