Changes in the C-Suite: What Does it Mean for APAC Recruiters?

Aaron McIntosh, APAC General Manager at Bullhorn.

The C-suite is changing. Most significantly, it is expanding to encompass more leaders with competencies such as L&D, growth, and sustainability. These new executives are working alongside traditional roles to help their organisation adapt to the needs of modern business. 

They’re also typically younger and more diverse, bringing new approaches and experience. 

In Australia, this change has been reflected by an especially high turnover rate among executives. According to PwC’s annual Strategy & CEO Success study, more CEOs left their roles in Australia in 2018 than almost any other country. The global average was 20 per cent, while 22 per cent of Australian CEOs either left or were fired. It is clear that the executive class is changing, but what does that mean for recruiters? How can they keep up and make sure they’re bringing the best talent?

The Right Candidates

To bring in the right candidates for a changing C-suite, recruiters must adopt new strategies. First and foremost, the skillset required for a seat at the table today is far broader than it has historically been. This is because executive roles are increasingly breaking free of the silos that have traditionally confined them and taking on a wider range of responsibilities. As the job of managing the business becomes less compartmentalised, the best candidates will need to be adaptable, flexible, and keen to take on a range of challenges. 

More than any other role, finding the perfect candidate to take a seat in the boardroom requires effectively sourcing talent through existing relationships. Since C-suite candidates are rarely actively searching for new roles, recruiters need to follow them closely and keep a close eye on how open they might be to a new opportunity. This will require building a strong, trusting relationship with potential candidates, as well as an in-depth understanding of the client’s requirements. 

A More Diverse C-suite

Another consideration for recruiters is the ongoing drive by many companies to make their C-suite more representative of the rest of the company by bringing in more women, young people, and people from a variety of backgrounds. PwC’s ‘CEO Success’ study observes that worldwide, women only make up five per cent of incoming CEOs. Those who are able to connect female candidates with the opportunities in the C-suite will have access to a massive yet frequently neglected pool of qualified applicants. 

Bullhorn’s annual Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) survey found that almost two in five recruiters (38 per cent) believed that diversity will be one of the major factors influencing the industry in the coming years. This will require recruiters to reconsider their traditional process for candidate selection by reaching out to groups that have traditionally been overlooked for executive roles, such as pregnant women and recent mothers. Recruiters that are able to do so will reap the rewards, benefitting both from satisfying demand for a more representative C-suite and a sizeable pool of qualified candidates to draw from. 

The Role of Technology

“Embracing digital transformation” is a top priority, according to our GRID survey, for 39 per cent of APAC recruiters. That means that Australian recruiters are ahead of the global average of just 30 per cent, but concerningly it means that a significant majority, 61 per cent, chose not to list digital transformation as one of their top priorities. 

Finding the right candidates for the C-suite, as with finding the right candidates for any role these days, requires the right technology. However, the CRM systems that are designed for the high-volume work of filling other roles in the company are typically not suited to executive search. The good news is that there are plenty of tools designed specifically for staffing the C-suite. These tools integrate with applicant tracking systems (ATS), making it easy to keep all of a candidate’s information in one place. Overall, today’s technology ensures that the whole team is in lock-step as they coordinate communications across email, calls, meetings, and messages to provide the seamless, executive-class experience that C-suite candidates expect. 

A C-suite for the Decade Ahead

The shakeup of the C-suite is good news for recruiters, since it means a surfeit of new positions and changes to existing roles. The job of bringing in new talent, particularly candidates from different backgrounds and with a broader range of experience, is a great opportunity for recruiters to differentiate themselves. Technology, in concert with close relationship-building, will be key to this strategy, and the recruiters that are able to meet the challenge of the changing C-suite and bring in talented new executives will have an exciting decade ahead. 

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