I sat across the table from many an exec recruitment business development person during my twenty or so years in HR Director roles.
These days I try to put myself in the shoes of the client HR Directors/CPOs/CEOs with whom I engage as an executive search provider, and ask myself the question that they must (or should) be asking themselves:
‘What can this provider do for us that we cannot do at least as efficiently and effectively ourselves’?
Only through answering this question honestly, through the lens of our clients, can we discern our value proposition.
The below are the same questions on which I used to dialogue with line managers as an HR head when considering any new capability, restructuring or replacement proposition, or indeed any significant business change, and the corresponding HR sub function that could (in theory) undertake the same task in house:
- Consulting (= Strategic HRBP)
What is the business and competitive context to this role (or roles)? What are the industry trends? What are the competitors up to? Where are the capability gaps between where you are now and where you need to get to? What are the unknowns (the risks)? What are the key high impact job competencies?
To add value as search partners, we must have the business credibility to be able to not only help walk the clients through these questions, but also to offer up our own perspectives and insights built around a deep industry expertise and up to date market knowledge.
- Searching (= Talent Acquisition)
What does the ideal candidate look like? What are the personal competency areas that may mean the difference between success and failure? Who are the top candidates for the job? And who should be avoided? Describe the culture of the organization (the real culture as manifested in the behaviors of people to one another).
As a search provider working on mission critical roles, our added value must be built around our reputation with candidates as well as with clients – this means that people know that a call with us is because there is a real opportunity that we have matched them with. Candidates will rarely refuse to speak with a highly reputable and established genuine search consultant, particularly one they know will offer value added career counselling irrespective of whether they eventually get the job.
We also add value by being able to define (objectively) a company’s actual (rather than aspirational) culture and have the wherewithal to know peoples’ personality types and personal values and their likely fit with that culture.
- Long – Term Partnering (= Performance Management)
Finally, we add value when clients know we are in it for the long game with joint accountability along with the client for the contribution levels of people we have placed long after contractual replacement period clauses have expired.
In conclusion, our true value added lies in our collaborative partnering with clients through which we complement, rather than replace (or ‘out source’), our clients’ capabilities.