How to Hire Top Digital Executives Despite Talent Crunch

How to Hire Top Digital Executives Despite Talent Crunch

How to Hire Top Digital Executives

A growing number of media companies have come to the realization that it has never been more important to hire top digital executives. These days, a company’s ability to compete — and even to survive — depends on it. However, the increasing demand for top digital executives is making it harder to recruit them.  As a result, companies are turning to traditional retained search firms for help.  However, that executive recruiting strategy introduces a significant risk of failure.

Reduce the Risk of Failed Executive Searches

To recruit top digital executives, one must first reduce the risk of failure. On average, 40% of retained executive searches fail to complete. In other words, there’s a good chance   — nearly one in two — you will end up without the digital executive you need. That’s a risk companies can ill afford.  With retained search engagements costing upwards of $100 thousand, failed searches exact a tremendous financial cost and do even more damage in lost time to market.  Delays in recruiting top digital executives can leave a company in perpetual catch-up mode. Companies lose momentum at the very time emergent competitors are growing faster than anyone thought possible. Reduce the risk of failed search by cultivate alternatives to traditional executive search firms.

Seek Innovative Boutique Search firms

Boutique search firms offer advantages over the likes of Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds, Korn/Ferry and CTPartners. For one thing,  boutique firms rarely have issues with client blockage — off-limits agreements that prevent a firm from recruiting from your favorite target companies because they were the firm’s clients.  For another, most boutique firms offer concierge quality client care . That is how smaller firms compete with the majors. More important, boutique search firms are freer to innovate smarter-faster-better ways to recruit.  Smarter-faster-better is how you recruit top digital executives.  To maximize the competitive advantage, look for firms that offer next-generation executive search capabilities.

Next-Gen Search Firm Capabilities

Smarter Executive Search

Seek search partners who develop methods that make recruiting more intelligent. After working as an award-winning investigative journalist, I founded The Good Search when I discovered how lightweight and outdated traditional recruiting research methods were. Research is how search firms identify and develop the candidates that they deliver to their clients. Build a better engine, and you’ve created the ultimate recruiting machine.  The Good Search harnesses the power of information to make search smarter. With the amount of data in world doubling every couple of years, recruiting has shifted from a problem of too few candidates to that of too many. Too many unqualified and average candidates get the way of the top performers. As a result, traditional search firms are missing rockstar candidates who are “standing in plain sight” because too many candidates get in the way.

Digital Data Expertise

You need a search firm with serious data expertise — one that is capable of separating the signal from the noise.  In my former career as a journalist, I developed a digital  speciality in data-driven investigations. There’s a treasure trove of candidate data available outside the resume databases and LinkedIn. That  data treasure trove is the key to identifying, calibrating, and recruiting best-of-the-best digital executives.  Ultimately, you need more than a social network, a stack of resumes,  or a list of candidates names. Your deserve to know who is good.  Our data driven approach and expertise, our digital acumen,  and investigative abilities make search smarter and give us greater reach. That is how The Good Search consistently deliver top talent clients never knew existed — candidates that traditional firms miss. Ask firms about their use of data to check their digital data expertise.

Actionable Intelligence

Look for a search firm that does more than gather information. Today’s search firms must stop to connect the dots and develop actionable intelligence for faster/better hires. The Good Search makes it a practice to capture intelligence and to share the knowledge with our clients. In fact, we hand over all our candidate research, something traditional retained firms never do. Of course, while The Good Search evangelizes methods that are more evolved, we are by no means the only firm with the courage to innovate. But whatever search firm you choose, make sure you select a partner that offers you a competitive advantage through smarter search. Its is the key to hiring rockstar digital executives. The only sensible way to match force with the digital talent shortage is to outsmart it.  With smarter search, you really can “Keep Calm and Search On”.  In fact, we created the executive search meme to serve as a reminder. In the war for talent, smarter, cooler heads prevail.

In my next post, I will share insights digital transformation culled from a leaked New York Times internal report. The document contains fascinating insights on the digital leadership required to to address perpetual digital disruption.

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Retained Search Firms: How the Mighty Have Fallen II

Retained Search Firms: How the Mighty Have Fallen II

In my last post, I described how the mighty trees that toppled in a recent storm reminded me of how the mighty have fallen. In the wake of our financial crisis, retained search firms have had a comeuppance for charging too much and delivering too little. Score one for the good guys.

Take the two felled trees on my property as a for instance. Let’s call one “Egon” and the other “Spencer”. Each weighed several tons. They were so heavy, in fact, we had to bring in a massive crane to remove them. But now that they’re gone, we have sun where there once was shadow. Quite literally, we have seen the light. And so too have a growing number of employers.

To be honest, trees are a sore subject in my household. My husband Crispin belongs to the just say “no” school of forestry. A year ago, I made the mistake of cutting down a couple of sickly, deformed trees in our backyard and he could barely stand to look at me and did not speak to me for a full three days. (Seriously. I am not making this up.) This year, I wanted cut down the the two trees along our driveway because the third had been “topped” — effectively ruined — by an electrical crew, breaking the “plant in threes” rule. I’d rather cut down the trees so that I could invite in the sunshine and more attractive plantings requiring full sun along with it. But I did want to risk another 72-hour-long silent treatment from His Husbandness. Then Mother Nature stepped in and did what I lacked the courage to do. She did a little landscaping of her own. (Thanks, Mom.)

The same thing has happened in search. While employers were growing increasingly frustrated by the high cost and high failure rate (40%) of traditional retained search firms, questioning their market dominance by using lesser known firms was risky business. In an unspoken quid pro quo, top executives often mandated using the very retained firms that placed them. Consequently, no one ever got fired for putting a search out to Korn Ferry or Spencer Stuart or Heidrick because that’s what everyone did. There was safety in numbers. So decade after decade, few questioned the enormous fees of retained search firms of up to 33% of first year total cash compensation plus expenses. Few objected to apparent industry-wide price fixing. Few objected when almost every other search came up short.

But necessity is the mother of invention. The recent financial storm has forced the change that so many secretly desired. Suddenly, employers can no longer afford to waste vast sums of money on retained search. So, at long last, they have found the courage to start asking tough questions of their retained search partners and to walk away when they don’t like the answers — shedding light where there once was only darkness. While it frightens retained firms and vampires, sunshine is always a good thing for the good guys. It helps the more innovative firms grow.