Recruiters Hunting Down Leaders with a Digital Mindset

Search firms are playing a vital role in finding digital transformation leaders. Assessing whether a candidate has the right mindset is fast becoming Job No.1. A report by IMSA Search examines the crucial traits of this new digital mindset, the digital transformation’s effect on how top managers get hired, and how recruiters can balance technology and the human touch. Let’s take a closer look!

December 18, 2019 – Almost no organization today is run without digital technologies. The scope and speed of the process varies across countries, sectors and organizations, but there is a change-evoking ocean, and no safe harbor for a single company or a single market. There are many challenges posed by digital transformation – namely artificial intelligence, internet of things, massive communication and machine learning.

“The companies have to change existing business models, and their ways of managing people,” said Hard Olav Bastiansen in a new report by IMSA Search Norway. “Governments must consider new laws and regulations. But it all boils down to one fundamental question: Do we have the right mindset?”

“A service like ours – that searches for the top management positions – will play a vital role in this brave new world,” he said. “Assessing whether a candidate has the right mindset or not will be essential for every business.”

The report asks: What are the crucial traits of this new, digital mindset? How will the digital transformation affect the way top managers get hired? And how can you find the perfect balance between technologies and human touch in the recruitment of top executives? Let’s see what IMSA has to say!

Process of Executive Search is Accelerating

The entire process of locating the right candidate to fill the open position is accelerating. “Digitalization makes the recruitment process faster and more efficient at some point,” said Monika Ciesielska, president of IMSA Search Global Partners and CEO of IMSA in Poland. “Employers are expecting recruitment results in 70 percent shorter time than a decade ago.”

How can you identify the perfect candidate in such a short time? Supporting algorithms is becoming necessary, said the report. Tailor-made assessment tools already have some fans among recruiters, and there will be many more advancements in this kind of tech in HR. “If I have to tell you what happens in the nearest future, I would say that technology will change the headhunting tasks permanently,” said Patrick Van Lijsebetten, IMSA Search Belgium. “We see the first signs already. ATS (applicant tracking systems) and 100 percent accurate CV parsing is becoming more important, as they add value both for the researcher and the client. Initial interviews with candidates are going to become more important through the use of chatbots.”

Nevertheless, shortening the time of a recruiter’s work, without losing the quality, is the most critical challenge right now. “We have easier access to candidates, but it comes with a price,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “When we are operating in the middle – or C-level – we need to have the best outcome possible. Catching up with top-level management is not taking minutes, even though that would be ideal. If we decide to move too quickly in top-level recruitment processes we will start losing quality.”

Searches Becoming More Global

Thanks to the internet, it’s much easier to access and contact candidates all over the world. The headhunting process is running on a global scale, now more than ever. It’s becoming more common to relocate to another country – even a continent – to seize a better career opportunity.

Related: Upbeat Hiring Plans Heading Into the New Year

Africa is a prime example. “Thanks to globalization, new technological hubs and new job opportunities are showing up not only in Europe or the U.S.,” said Vanessa Strong, IMSA Search Kenya. “For example, M-pesa, a mobile money transfer service launched by Safaricom, a network operator in Kenya, has taken the markets by storm. In some aspects of the fintech world, Africa is way ahead of the West. It has greatly impacted business operations and has been viewed in awe by leaders on a global scale. As one of the fintech promised lands, Kenya attracts more talented people from the fintech industry,” she said.

ZRG Partners Launches New Digital Executive Recruiting Platform
ZRG Partners launched the Z intelligence (Zi) platform, a digital platform designed to transform how companies conduct senior-level recruiting. “The way companies work with search firms to hire leaders has not fundamentally changed in decades,” said Larry Hartmann, CEO. “Meanwhile, every other part of the business world has embraced data, analytics and technology enhancement. Our digital Zi talent hiring platform combines talent intelligence, candidate insights and process improvement to dramatically deliver executive searches quicker and with proven better results.”

The IMSA report said that to meet market requirements, recruiters must take a closer look at the candidates, especially at their digital reputation. “We know more about the candidates by viewing their activities in social media and checking their branding activities,” said Ms. Ciesielska. “Higher management is usually most active on LinkedIn. It offers a deeper look at the candidates’ digital outcome. For example, it reveals how they react to criticism of others, how they comment on particular topics, which articles appeal to them and the depth of knowledge they share,” she said. “This is a vast supply of information to add to a standard personal interview, when we have a limited time to check and evaluate competencies.”

The New Role of HR in the Business Hierarchy

The fear of being replaced by robots is rising in the recruitment business, as well. But not everyone sees the future in such dark colors – where an algorithm substitutes a consultant.

Related: The Upskilling Deadlock to Continue in 2020

“I believe that the digital transformation will increase the importance of the HR manager,” said Stig-Rune Reese, IMSA Search Norway. “Until now, this has been a staff role that in most organizations has no real authority. In the future, with new sets of soft data being collected, HR will be able to much better predict the organizational outcomes. What will happen in the organization? Who will resign? What personal features or traits will be missing? This will give real power and new authority to the CHROs and bring them much closer to the CEOs. The HR officers will become real organizational designers and leaders of change.”

Be on the Lookout for Unconscious Biases

“In many countries, the recruitment process now primarily begins online,” Ms. Ciesielska said. The headhunter can view a profile picture and other photos publicly posted on social media. This might speak about the race, gender, age and other attributes of individuals that can potentially influence the sourcing process. Because of this – usually unconscious recruiter bias – some candidates might not ever proceed to the face-to-face interview phase.”

To Build More Diverse Teams, Avoid Unconscious Bias When Hiring
The benefits of diversity and inclusion for non-profit organizations are well-documented and include greater success in almost every possible metric. “Often, however, non-profit leaders and managers tend to ignore a key barrier to more meaningful workplace diversity: unconscious bias,” said Molly Brennan, founding partner of Koya Leadership Partners, in the new report.

As with the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) restrictions, global rules and procedures are needed to protect candidates, said IMSA.

Do Not Underestimate the Power of Human Touch

“My concern is always a balance between the digital and human interface,” said Ms. Strong. “It’s crucial to guard against becoming lazy and relying too much on digital transformation. The computer is as good as the user.”

“Rush is a bad adviser, especially when such a revolutionary change takes place,” said Mirtjahjanto Adi Mitrono, IMSA Search Indonesia. “We are preparing ourselves to adapt to this digital future. But short term, we will not make significant changes to our recruitment process. For example, there are a lot of companies and projects, where an old-school, face-to-face interview and assessment review works best.”

According to McKinsey, the digitization of companies is still less than 40 percent of its potential, said Lizette Ibarra, IMSA Search board member from Mexico. “Companies think they are transforming, but most of them do not realize that digital transformation will be a permanent form of being,” she said.

As a result, the gap between old fashioned and ‘modern’ businesses will grow, and recruiters must be able to reach out to both groups. “The main goal is to find  candidates with the special mindset: open-minded and ready for digital change,” said Anna Valouchová, IMSA Search Czech Republic.

“People who are not change-enthusiasts or technology-lovers will struggle,” Ms. Valouchová said. “We are in a fight or flight situation. Managers and CEOs must be able to follow the trends, see the opportunities and adapt to ensure their team’s or their company’s future success.”

“Digitalization has given the executive search business new tools and methods for researching, locating and identifying top candidates,” she said. “New assessment tools and techniques are also growing trends, but the consultant’s personal competence will remain a prerequisite for success.”

Related: Demand is Rising for Executive Recruiters . . . Here’s Why

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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