News & Insights

What’s in store for executive search?

By Michelle Carson-Williams, Chief Executive and Founder at Holmes Noble featured in The Global Recruiter 03/03/2017

Do it Differently, Holmes Noble asks what’s in store for executive search?

2017 is going to be an interesting ride. The changing social demographics, economic climate and the mix of generational talent in most sectors will make enticing the right executive leaders a key objective for most boards in 2017.

The wise will be approaching things differently in 2017. We’re already seeing clients take a longer-term view for instance seeing how the calibre of candidates plays a critical role in corporate strategy. Smart executive planning and consulting in 2017 will concentrate on mapping future resources – what sort of leaders are needed to make the organisation thrive in years to come rather than just focusing on immediate needs.

One of the biggest issue coming out of 2016 has been diversity. It is now ranking as a top business concern amongst many of our clients and we believe it will continue to dominate throughout 2017.

The complicated nature of diversity varies from sector to sector but the evidence is clear. Celebrate your differences as diversity makes an organisation more innovative and successful. It takes subtle judgement of how different backgrounds affect skillsets but attitudes must always be aligned as it’s easier to build skills than it is to change beliefs.

What will the threats be this year?

Social media is mixing things up and there is now a treasure trove of information available on LinkedIn. However, high level executives loathe being treated like an online commodity. People prefer a conversation with those they trust. That’s generally someone they perceive as neutral, more responsive and trustworthy. People still want trusted partnerships with an actual person who deeply understands them and their target industry.

Overall, we predict that executive search will continue to be strong in 2017. Growth in our sector will be from helping organisations get the best people – highest skills, phenomenal attitudes aligned with the DNA of the organisation – who define new types of executive roles.

We are also expecting to see an increase in companies looking for interim arrangements at senior level this year. Reliance on interims will rise simply because many businesses do not want long-term investments they want quick fixes.

Having short-term access to experienced skills, sorts out today’s business problems quickly – products and projects get launched faster, business efficiencies are implemented sooner and strategies are bedded in quicker. Once the problem or project is complete the interim moves on – perfect for many UK industries at the moment worried about the uncertain business climate.

Businesses will have to remain competitive in this current climate of political change in order to attract talent this year. It will also be interesting to explore how Theresa May’s welcome promise will address the pay gaps between CEO levels and the shop-floor.

If we are to learn the lessons of this year, executive search firms who are agile and react to changing market forces in 2017 will succeed. The business world is changing and therefore the business of recruiting leaders must change with it. Boards want committed, knowledgeable, collaborative partners embracing the digital world.

Featured in The Global Recruiter