Guest Articles
Technology & The Revolution In Executive Search

Change is inevitable in every industry. As technology drives innovation across businesses, people and processes must adapt. We have seen it happen across almost every industry, from finance and banking to media and retail, the way we run companies and consume goods and services has fundamentally changed.

In executive search, which is a $13 billion industry, there has been little or no disruption over the past 20 years. The traditional model has operated mostly offline and on paper. Until now. The industry has reached an inflection point, a moment at which those of us in the executive search world, must not only concede that changes are coming but drive forward this new chapter.

A brand new experience

As a candidate, engaging with a search firm is quite a transactional experience. You hear about a role, you may be added to a shortlist, even put through an interview process and whether you get the new position or not, your ongoing interaction with the search firm is limited. Technology enables us to improve this experience exponentially. The search should be only the beginning of a relationship with candidates.

Executive search firms are in a privileged position – they work with and get to know business leaders from all over the world, across all industries. Not only do search firms typically gather compensation information and professional experience, but by the very nature of a search, consultants find out executives’ aspirations, they get insights into their preferred working culture and leadership styles.

This invaluable data is often wasted. Searches are done in siloes and insights gained in one are often not transferred to the next. What technology can do is help us use this data to make sure candidates are placed in the perfect roles for their experience and their aspirations. It can help us give candidates accurate compensation benchmarks and provide transparency over searches, which have traditionally been quite secretive processes.

Harnessing technology means giving the control back to the candidates and making sure their career is on exactly the right path. It also means connecting executives with bespoke opportunities and importantly, it means connecting senior leaders with each other and providing a platform for peers to engage in cross-industry, cross-continental networking.

Clients driving innovation

When it comes to the changing tide of executive search as a service to clients, innovation is key. Clients are increasingly looking for a flexible approach to executive search. From full executive search and advisory services to organisational analysis and direct solutions, clients want to avail of a bespoke approach to each senior hire.

One trend that is noticeable in the industry over the past couple of years is a desire within organisations to build out their own internal search teams. In many cases, companies aren’t set up for this. That’s where executive search firms can step in, with technology, and help clients become more self-sufficient in their senior hiring.

This shift doesn’t represent the death of the industry, it represents an evolution of it. World-class executive search is unique – it helps companies turn strategies into realities. But there’s no reason why we, as an industry, should not be pushing ourselves to deliver more for our clients who are, and should be, expecting to see more return on their executive search investment.

The power of people

What’s more, the ability to deliver a bespoke offering to each and every client based on their business needs will turn one-off tactical transactions into long-term strategic relationships. The importance of a long-term talent strategy cannot be overestimated and the most effective route to ensuring a strategy is implemented is to build and nurture relationships with leaders at the top table.

Digitalising executive search does not negate human relationships. This is undeniably a people-driven industry and technology can only act as a complement to real human connections. Whether you’re a candidate or a client, technology is about to revolutionise your experience. This is the moment for executive search and I am excited to see The Marlin Hawk Group lead the way.


David Holloway is the CEO of The Marlin Hawk Group, a global executive search firm, who today announced they are acquiring Winter Circle. Click here to read the full press release.

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