Even while it may be more difficult to market, the advantages of taking a more unique profile are often greater
There is a risk of churning out uninteresting, predictable candidates for outcomes that serve but do not sparkle as customers want headhunters to produce faster results using cutting-edge data analytics techniques.
During a recent discussion on careers, a famous headhunter observed, “Search consultants, however inherently innovative, find themselves locked in a position of risk avoidance on behalf of their customers.” Typically, they’ll hire someone who most closely resembles the previous employee, although without any of the desirable qualities.
No matter how near it may be to the truth, this scathing comment nonetheless left a bad taste in our mouths. We don’t want to seem like we’re discounting the value of experience and training when making recruiting decisions, but we also think that a candidate’s potential and character should be taken into account. Our mission was to track out those bold headhunters who have successfully lobbied on behalf of non-conformist candidates. Recruiters and businesses, we believe, will find motivation in these accounts.
Proven effective the non-profit sector is looking for a chief executive officer
Finding a successor to the CEO of Project Bread, a Boston-based anti-hunger organization, was a particularly difficult task for Kathleen because the previous CEO had been in position for nearly 20 years, bringing with him the complicated legacy and allegiances that come with such a long career.
The board required a visionary who could conceive of and implement a new strategy, and not only a candidate with outward presence, persuasive leadership abilities, and donor savvy. The candidate also needed to show that they had a history of “helping and assisting vulnerable individuals” on their resume.
As the list grew, Kathleen recognized the name of Erin, the director of a different charity. With Project Bread’s requirement for a chief executive officer with prior expertise, Erin was automatically eliminated from consideration. Yet, Kathleen’s trusted advisor claimed that she had the potential to become CEO and had been honing her skills in preparation. As soon as Kathleen heard nothing but praise for Erin, she decided to give her a call.
Kathleen reminisces, “When I met Erin, I was swept away.” She “had fire in her gut” and “could tick all the boxes” for the various requirements of Project Bread. Erin’s personal experience with food hunger combined with her track record of successfully turning around a failing government institution gave her unrivaled credibility. Even with her inherent gravity, she lacked the experience necessary to be CEO.
Kathleen conducted thorough, well-planned interviews with many tried-and-true prospects. Yet she was sure that with her tact and Erin’s charm, everything would work out fine.
Erin used well-researched common ground to establish personal relationships in meetings. She demonstrated an exceptional command of the skills necessary to steer and reinvigorate intricate institutions like Project Bread. She admitted to having no prior experience as CEO, but she made it seem like an asset rather than a liability.
The board ultimately decided to appoint Erin with a unanimous vote. She has been in her position for for three years, and as her colleague Kathleen puts it, “is working 23 hours out of 24 during the tough Covid-19 period, making appeals and reporting on TV, working with donations, and generally being the whole rock star she has always been.”
Russian talent for the expansion of businesses
Yulia, a math and computer science prodigy from Soviet-era Russia, lost no time in contacting one of the most well-known worldwide computer businesses after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She was the second employee the firm had in her nation, and throughout her tenure there, she was responsible for generating a significant amount of revenue for the organization. Yulia’s career came to a head after 19 years when she was promoted to the position of vice president of a division in New York City. This division had a turnover of several billion dollars. She did not seem like the type of person who would be captivated by a company that was in desperate need of a turnaround. But, the company did just that. And despite that, it took place.
Peter, a headhunter, was considering the requirements and limitations of his client, a worldwide logistics firm situated in Switzerland, who was seeking for a COO. Suddenly, he had an image of what the ideal candidate would be like. Peter reasoned, in his “fortunately dyslexic manner,” that he may locate such individual at an IT services firm rather than from the usual pool of logistics specialists. He referred to this reasoning as his “dyslexic method.” Nevertheless, there was a challenge: the company was owned and driven by a well-known private equity group, which was not recognized for its creative thinking when it came to recruiting. This presented a problem for the company.
The quest started out by making a map of all the traditional contenders. When Peter traveled to see Yulia in New York, he was enthusiastic and inquisitive about her profile, but he wasn’t quite certain that she would be the perfect person. To put it into perspective, in his words, “She completely blew me away with her incredible energy, drive, intellect, openness, and clear thinking.”
Peter believed that their hunt was at an end. But now followed two laborious and potentially dangerous processes. Initially, he had to win over the approval of both the board of directors and the CEO of Yulia’s qualifications and star potential. Second, he would have to convince her that she would be perfect for a position in a town outside of Basel!
Peter advocated for Yulia with all of his heart, and he was quickly successful in winning over the CEO, who came from a background in FMCG despite being an outlier himself. A campaign was launched between these two, with thorough and strategic planning, in order to convince the board that is extremely data-driven. The first thing that Peter did was present the candidates that were rational but uninteresting.
As everything was in place, Yulia walked on to the scene in all of her technicolor splendor. Two further traditional contenders remained in the running, but Yulia’s fit and pizzazz were incomparable to those of the other candidates. The board decided to give her the go-ahead and even agreed to provide extra time for her onboarding, which is nearly unheard of in the private equity sector.
During this time, she was uncertain about departing from her beautiful and affluent life in New York, but she maintained an open mind. In the end, it was her insatiable intellectual curiosity that propelled her to act on a leap of faith. Yulia impressed everyone on the team over the three years that she worked in her new capacity by performing exceptionally well in it.
An exhaustive search for a luxury group
Fabrice found himself the subject of a global hunt for someone to “lead the digital transformation” of LVMH thanks to a confluence of chance and previous expertise. It was difficult since there was neither a job description nor even a plan on where in the organization this individual would fit. There was no job description and no strategy. Alexandre Arnault, who was the CEO Bernard Arnault’s son and who also attended the initial briefing, provided the clearest clue.
He emphasized the importance of the candidate being able to blend in with the peculiar culture of LVMH. In addition to this, the individual would need to “simply grasp” how to capitalize on the most recent digital trends and derive value from the assets contained inside the LVMH portfolio.
The search needed to be conducted in complete secrecy as an additional challenge. Fabrice was not even allowed to divulge the name of his customer to his coworkers, much less to anybody who could be interested in the position. The pool of potential candidates would be virtually unbounded. Everyone was talking about digital transformation at the time, but there were very few examples of successful transformations or benchmarks that might serve as a reference point. In light of the aforementioned circumstances, LVMH acknowledged that the search would likely take longer than the typical couple of months.
Fabrice compiled the names by using an iterative process that is analogous to design thinking. A typical “long list” in executive search has around 10 names. The contender might be located in a variety of “profile boxes,” such as the “Big Four” (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon), digital products, information technology, fashion, music, or retail, with no geographical restrictions.
Fabrice began to narrow down the search for a candidate after interacting with over 300 prospective employees when he came to the realization that the post required someone who supported digital transformation as an organic process.
At that time, Ian was in charge of Apple Music, and he was a perfect match for the position. Because he was the one who established the Beastie Boys’ internet presence in 1993, he has been intuitively navigating and even disturbing the digital environment for many years. The fact that he did not conform to any one “box,” coupled with the forceful nature of his personality, caused him to stand out from a group of otherwise formidable competitors.
The second obstacle that Fabrice needed to overcome was making certain that all of the applicants would satisfy his client’s needs, despite the ambiguity of the post. Fabrice arranged for direct encounters with the Arnaults so that he could impress them right from the start. In addition to this, he prepared a list of written questions for the applicants to answer in order to satiate HR’s requirement for proper procedure.
The decision to hire Ian was made because of his strategic approach, significant emotional intelligence (EQ), political and cultural savvy, and compatibility with the owners’ goal. Fabrice, when asked about this astonishing tale many years later, replied, “Alexandre Arnault knew that risk reduction is about minimizing the downside as much as maximizing the reward.” Fabrice was reflecting back on this story that occurred many years before. In this particular instance, he was astute enough to know that he wanted to leave that upside open, and as a consequence, the outcome was far more significant than anyone had anticipated.
The value of outlier candidates may be unlocked by following these five steps.
- It is important to keep in mind that the “plug-and-play” method of employing employees would not necessarily result in the most value for particular jobs.
- Have an open mind about the possibility of uncertainty, and give some thought to including more outliers in your pool of talent.
- Consider not just the candidates’ capabilities and past experiences but also their potential and personalities.
- Be patient since certain search tasks might take longer than the typical two months to complete.
- Have faith in your search consultant, and find a happy medium between challenge and support.
- Have the courage to put up exceptional individuals who may fall short of meeting all of the official requirements.
- Consider both the big picture and the big picture strategy when thinking about the main success elements of the position and where to source applicants.
- While managing the environment of your client’s stakeholders, make use of your emotional intelligence, political knowledge, and diplomatic skills.
- To ensure victory, you must guide your contender to the finish line.
- Maintain and cultivate relationships for the long term, and maintain a talent pool in mind for when the appropriate chance presents itself.