What do the following jobs have in common?

  • The CEO of Lotus Sports Cars
  • A Scottish Island Whisky Distillery Manager
  • The Director of Fundraising for a Cathedral
  • A Chief Operating Officer for a Private Equity Bank

At first glance of course, the answer is “nothing” but in reality, these are all jobs into which we have helped a range of employers recruit.

From a search process, these projects of course have everything in common: as much time spent as the employer is prepared to give us on the briefing phase regarding their own company, its mission and organisational structure, the vacancy itself and the type of person they are looking for in terms of the competencies the qualifications required to do the job.

Over many years I have had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful selection of charismatic and impressive clients, not in all cases the most conventional in their thinking or character but memorable nevertheless.  I have had briefing meetings with Bishops which began with a prayer, we’ve worked with an Arab Sheik who preferred to arrive for all his meetings an hour later than scheduled and I have taken a brief for a senior job sitting in an airport after the flight I was due to take to Stockholm for the briefing visit had been grounded.  I will never forget being asked with no notice to join the MD of a client company on a four hour drive to persuade his preferred candidate to change his mind when he had just turned down this MD’s job offer – being stopped by the police for speeding en-route, was only part of the drama!

By entering new and unfamiliar businesses, the Generalist has to begin with no preconceived ideas about the assignment or the candidate specification.  This means that he/she is forced to ask incisive and revealing questions of the client and this in turn leads to a better understanding of the project which is so vital to ensure a positive outcome.

Of course, the Specialist Search Consultant will know his or her area or market inside out and will almost certainly have a “black book” of potential candidates as big as you could wish for.  However, they might be more restricted from approaching potential candidates who are currently working for their other client companies.  Therefore, depending on how niche the Search Consultant’s market is, this may turn out to be a problem.

There is without doubt room for both the Specialist and Generalist Consultant but from my side, the interest in learning about new businesses together with meeting amazing and inspirational people continues to make this job so much fun.

Article written by Angus Keiller, CFR Global Executive Search UK.

Photo source: Pexels

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