How One Search Firm is Adjusting to Today’s Market

Landing the right candidates for leadership roles is no easy task for any recruiter. Not only must prospects possess the proper skills, experience, and cultural fit but there’s also competition, cost, and client expectations to contend with, according to Patrick Van Lijsebetten, of Rialto Executive Search, in a recent discussion.

March 28, 2023 – Executive recruiters continue to point to sourcing top talent as one of the biggest challenges they face today. Finding the right candidates who possess the required skills, experience, and cultural fit is a major challenge for executive recruiters, according to Patrick Van Lijsebetten, managing director and CEO of Rialto Executive Search. He also points to competition. “The competition for top talent is intense, making it challenging for recruiters to secure the best candidates before other firms do,” he said. “Executive search can also be a time-sensitive process, with recruiters often having to find the right candidate quickly, adding to the challenge.”

Cost is another challenge facing recruiters today. “Executive search can be an expensive process, requiring significant investment in time and resources, and recruiters must balance cost considerations with the need to secure top talent,” Mr. Van Lijsebetten said.

Lastly, he mentions client expectations. “Recruiters must effectively manage client expectations, as they often have specific requirements and timelines,” he said. “Additionally, they must ensure that the candidates they present are the right fit for the organization’s culture and long-term goals.”

There’s a huge shortage nowadays in very technical positions in engineering, according to Mr. Van Lijsebetten. “Belgium, more specifically the Flanders region, is a highly technological developed market,” he said. “We have very important cluster industries such as chemicals and petrochemicals (Antwerp Port area with companies such as BASF, Total, Exxon, Bayes, Ineos). But there are also big capital investments in the life sciences industries with key players such as Solvay, Baxter, J&J, Pfizer, and companies that do hire many hundreds of engineering profiles. Therefore, there’s a trend of insourcing highly technical people from other surrounding countries.”

Getting Back to In Person Meetings

Mr. Van Lijsebetten also says that he has gotten back to a lot more face to face meetings with clients. He says there is an expansion of the digital economy. “Employees were suggested or even pushed to start teleworking,” Mr. Van Lijsebetten said. “Video conferencing tools such as Teams and Zoom became the standards to communicate. A lot of new hardware and software became part of our day-to-day habits to do regular business. We will face a permanent increase in spending to adapt ourselves to the new way of doing business to gain new clients, to search for candidates and to try to match both parties.”

Related: Five Trends in Executive Search in Europe for 2023-25

“However, there’s a trend now to start seeing people back in a physical manner,” said Mr. Van Lijsebetten. “With candidates, it’s important to feel the body chemistry. Will he/she be a good fit for the company? But also seeing clients in their natural habitat is very important. For recruiters it is an absolute necessity to feel the culture of the company, to speak about the company values, in order to be able to translate this in a discussion with our candidates.”

What Lies Ahead

Looking forward, Mr. Van Lijsebetten notes that captains of industry, business leaders, CxO people will need to be even more agile. “They will need to adapt themselves in their traditional way of thinking, adapt themselves to the new digital world around us where data and metrics will become far more important than before,” he said. “Lots of processes will go digital, remote; other ways of reporting will become the new standard.”

As managing director and CEO of Rialto Recruitment NV, Patrick Van Lijsebetten is responsible for three brands: Rialto Recruitment (executive search), Rialto IM (interim management) and TechCrewZ (technical outsourcing).  After a career of more than 20 years as an engineer in the B2B industry, he founded Atlantae Executive Search in 2001, a specialized headhunting agency for engineers and experienced commercial and management profiles. In 2012, Atlantae merged with EgeminPlus and Mr. Van Lijsebetten became CEO. In 2016, the firm changed its name to Rialto Recruitment. Rialto Recruitment is the exclusive Belgian partner of IMSA, the global executive search network, with offices in more than 25 countries across five continents.

Empathy, with their remote staff needs to become one of the major qualities our leaders will have to show on the floor, according to Mr. Van Lijsebetten. “This will be the only way to increase team efficiency, being agile, and be able to quickly adapt their day to day plans,” he said. “We see an unprecedented level of candidates switch to other companies. There is a lack of brand loyalty. New business will compete for new market share. Companies are seeking to regain the lost ground attracting candidates with more flexibility terms such as homeworking, telework policies.”

In the end, executive search firms continue to be best partners for organizations looking to find top senior talent. “Executive search firms specialize in identifying and attracting top senior talent, making them experts in the field,” said Mr. Van Lijsebetten. “They have a deep understanding of the industry and the marketplace, which allows them to quickly identify the best candidates. Also time savings.”

“Executive search firms can save organizations a significant amount of time and effort in the recruitment process, freeing up internal resources for other important tasks,” he said. “Executive search firms often have access to a network of passive candidates who are not actively seeking new job opportunities, but are open to considering new opportunities. Executive search firms also provide an objective assessment of a candidate’s suitability, taking into account the organization’s culture, goals, and requirements.”

Veteran Search Consultants

Rialto Executive Search, is the new name of this executive search boutique, specializing in direct search for higher educated technical (bachelor’s, industrial and civil engineers, scientists and doctorate students), but also commercial, management, and CxO level profiles (including the search for members for advisory boards or boards of directors).

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Rialto Executive Search is looking to expand into new areas in 2023. “Being part of a global network, IMSA, but equally having our majority shareholder being the fourth biggest European HR player called Groupe PROMAN (HQ Marseille France 100 percent family owned reaching 3.8 billion euros in 2022) – we would like to expand into the interim management business too,” he said. “Specializing in HR, IT, legal, and finance related vacancies for C-level management and thus offering our services to medium and bigger enterprises, having local operations across the globe.”

“We see a shift towards more independent and/or freelance candidates that are flexible and very eager to perform to its best while giving more flexibility to our clients to work on a project basis,” Mr. Van Lijsebetten said.   

Related: Hiring Top Talent in Unprecedented Times

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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