Spotlight: How One Search Firm is Adjusting to the European Market

March 1, 2023 – As managing director and CEO of the group Rialto Recruitment NV, Patrick Van Lijsebetten
is responsible for three brands: Proman (interim), Rialto Recruitment (executive search), and Ombrelo (recruitment and selection). 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.

As industry practice leader, Mr. Van Lijsebetten takes the lead to support all international partners in their further local expansion.

Mr. Van Lijsebetten recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to share his views on the European search market and how he expects 2023 to round out.

Patrick, what positions are you seeing most in demand? Which sectors are hiring the most?
There’s a huge shortage nowadays in very technical positions in engineering. Belgium, more specifically the Flanders region, is a highly technological developed market. 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.

Have you gotten back to meeting with clients face to face? Why is this important?
There is an expansion of the digital economy. Employees were suggested or even pushed to start teleworking. 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. However, there’s a trend now to start seeing people back in a physical manner. 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 do you see moving forward?
Our captains of industry, the business leaders, CxO people will need to be even more agile as before. 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 as before. Lots of processes will go digital, remote; other ways of reporting will become the new standard. Empathy, with their “remote staff” needs to become one of the major qualities our leaders will have to show on the floor. This will be the only way to increase team efficiency, being agile, and be able to quickly adapt their day- to-day plans. 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.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing executive recruiters today?
Sourcing top talent: Finding the right candidates who possess the required skills, experience, and cultural fit is a major challenge for executive recruiters. Competition: The competition for top talent is intense, making it challenging for recruiters to secure the best candidates before other firms do.

Time constraints: Executive search can be a time-sensitive process, with recruiters often having to find the right candidate quickly, adding to the challenge. Cost: 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.

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

Why are executive search firms the best partners for organizations looking to find top senior talent?
Expertise. Executive search firms specialize in identifying and attracting top senior talent, making them experts in the field. 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. 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.

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