Embracing Digitalization in Executive Search

So much of a recruiter’s value is sourcing hard-to-find candidates. There are recruiters who worry about how that value will be affected by digital job search and recruitment tools, but the need for worry is non-existent. In this era of recruitment, it is more advantageous to embrace the digital tools at one’s disposal to better find optimal candidates.

But it’s easy to see why digitalization of search strikes fear into the hearts of executive search specialists. On the most basic level, finding suitable candidates to fill positions through digital tools is:

  • Fast
  • Convenient
  • Cost-effective

But the charge of executive search firms isn’t to toss barely-qualified candidates at clients until one minimally meets the standards of a required role. Recruiters who bring value to companies know that discovering the perfect candidate for a role is the culmination of countless micro-efforts that can benefit from the use of digital tools – but those efforts can never be replaced by even the most robust digital search and organization functions.

Digital Search Is Not a Threat

It comes down to the value of interpersonal relationships. Executive search specialists can draw a line where digital assistance no longer provides extra efficiency or value in a candidate search and where building and nurturing relationships creates professional and personal bonds that digital tools cannot emulate.

The line between digital and personal might look something like this:


Basic Search Advanced Search
Digital tools operated by experienced consultants help recruiters start with many candidates they can drill down. Videoconferencing, in-person interviews, and vetting help build personal & professional relationships.


Industry experience and expertise from consultants also helps break down findings from digital data in a way that resonates with clients; such a task is one that digital tools still cannot handle.

Plus, executive positions call for leadership that is prepared to adapt to and improve company culture, even in an interim position. Judging personality traits and discovering the ability to produce results and build value through quality leadership are tasks for which executive search consultants are uniquely qualified.

Many candidates are currently employed and have no time for automatically generated messages. However, they are much more inclined to respond to outreach from a human, especially if there is a relationship built around that outreach. Having the pre-nurtured relationship with candidates helps recruiting firms keep top-qualified and interested candidates readily available.

Let Digital Tools Help You Do More

Harnessing the power of automated search and record-keeping allows recruiters to focus on a new, higher level of examination for potential candidates. Because tools like LinkedIn give recruiters access to basic work history and training information on countless individuals across the world, beginning the search for candidates is instantaneous – and so is initiating communication. Be wary, however: such easy access to candidates has also led to over-solicitation, so recruiters must make additional, personalized effort to convince candidates to join exclusive networks.

Job search specialization sites also bring in hundreds (if not thousands) of qualified candidates per job posting, which makes the task of persistently finding candidates interested in an available position significantly easier. Taking a modern-day hiring approach to building an executive network gives recruiters the freedom to command the entirety of the advanced-level vetting process.

Face-to-Face Relationship Building Is Irreplaceable

No amount of digital technology will replace the natural reactions and judgments of a face-to-face meeting or interview. Every time we approach a person to interact, we make countless subconscious decisions. These decisions happen when we meet in-person, not over a screen, and it requires a set of finely-honed skills to determine the viability of candidate from these same interactions.

Skilled and experienced executive recruiters will take more wisdom from an interview with a carefully selected candidate than digital tools can take from a massive database. Because executive search clients are focused on building company value, they don’t have the resources necessary to perform this level of due diligence. Accordingly, the needs of the client will always call for the combined efforts of digital technology and recruiting expertise and experience.

Let’s draw the line: smart executive recruiters will take advantage of digital tools to begin their search, then finish using an advanced understanding of the client, their needs, and what highly vetted candidates can bring to the client’s company.

When executive search firms begin to embrace the wonders of digital technology, they embrace a new era of hyper-targeted executive recruiting that has the potential to help build some of the world’s most successful companies.

The focus from this point forward will be drilling down the difficulties, efforts, and methodologies sourcing hard-to-find candidates for recruitment firms who are already taking advantage of digitization.

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