Discover the new tactics that head-hunters are using to source talent (and what could be causing you to miss out when you are direct sourcing!)


Discover new tactics that head-hunters are using to source talent: Never ever do something you can’t afford financially or emotionally.

Like giving away all your top tips on how to do your job… for FREE. People will just copy you and you’ll be out of business in no time!

So, shh – don’t tell anyone…


I am kidding of course, fortunately/unfortunately, no one has found a silver bullet yet for recruitment and it is still a case of time = reward in many ways when it comes to Exec Search. There are some best practices to ensure you get it right.

A very quick recap for anyone that hasn’t Headhunted! Executive search is about being proactive – rather than passively waiting for people to come to you (e.g. via adverts or job boards.) These tips might help you to get it right… feedback appreciated as always.


The brief

Work out the job brief – this is often the trickiest part and should be anything but brief. The aim is to fully understand what the hiring manager needs from the appointment, the must haves and the areas for push back.


Culture – if you are internal you are likely to already understand the culture of the business – if you are external, I would suggest fully immersing yourself in their culture (retail is a good example where I would suggest visiting stores to get a picture of what it’s really like!)


The story – WHY is just as important as WHAT. You need to understand the bigger picture and where this role fits into things – this will become useful in our approach stage. Get this wrong and you won’t get the right people interested in the appointment.


Defining the role – a job description doesn’t give a full picture of what a job really entails. It might list tasks, but this just doesn’t cut it. Also, it won’t tell a great story.


The push back – the most important part of taking any job brief is the push back. This is a reality check on their expectations vs what is in the external market. This is why many searches fail – whoever has taken the upfront brief hasn’t said NO to unrealistic expectations. Ensure you have data, benchmarking, and a thorough understanding of the candidate landscape before any briefing meeting.


Where will we find the talent?


I will leave the basics of research to another time and focus on the more strategic side of things.

Personally, I believe that one of the biggest mistakes that can be made when hiring is wrongly assuming that the candidate with the exact experience for the role, is the right candidate for the role.

It is important to determine whether you are sourcing for experience, or whether you are taking a more holistic approach to sourcing for future talent – where it is important to place a lot of emphasis on hiring for attitude and potential.


Some top tips:


Keep an open mind on sector experience – For example, retailers have large multi-site workforces, as do restaurant businesses. Restaurant business might have chefs that work in their kitchens – so might pub groups or business services firms such as Compass group.


During your research ask the right questions – for example, if people aren’t interested: do they know anyone who might be interested? Ask who they rate in business and why? Who are the future stars? Who is the best boss they have worked for?


Sometimes you need to kiss a few frogs – in my opinion, if you are retained on an assignment you need to fill it. This sometimes means approaching more people than you might have ever thought necessary! Keep going when it gets tough.


The approach

There are a variety of options when it comes to approaching candidates – email/LinkedIn/telephone. The most important thing is you must be able to sell WHY someone should join your business and what is in it for them – I will repeat this bit as it is often forgotten. The candidate needs to know what they will get from the business, be it development, a great boss, flex working, career development or whatever, it is just as much about them as it is about you checking they are right for your business.

People are emotional and everyone loves a good story, in fact, there are significant pieces of research that point to storytelling being one of the most sought-after skills required in business over the next five years.

In today’s business environment, where information is out there and candidates have greater choice than ever, it is vital to get this narrative correct, to ensure you build an emotional connection with candidates from first contact during the research phase.


The follow-through

It’s important to work on building a relationship with the candidate and make them feel valued and wanted. After all, if they are in demand and have more offers on the table, they are going to be more inclined to lean towards the people that make them feel engaged.

Make sure the process isn’t too one-sided and transactional. Of course, any process needs to be robust, from my experience, I would suggest this isn’t the first time someone comes to meet you. This first meeting should be more informal, sense checking their experience but equally selling the opportunity to them.

Once they are fully committed, then you can assess away.



The offer

The offer is the most important part. You must remember that you are dealing with people. People are emotional and are all driven differently.


  • It is important to make people feel wanted! Telling someone WHY you think they would be great in this role and WHY they were the preferred candidate is a great starting point…
  • It is vitally important that you do a thorough search, to take your time to ensure that you hire the right person for the role. Once you have found that ‘right person’ it is important to move quickly, especially in talent short markets (where people might have multiple offers.)
  • Money can be an important motivator to move but isn’t the only reason people accept a role. It is worth exploring fully someone’s total compensation and what is important to them.

-For example, home working and/or 3-4 days a week is more important to some people than a large bonus for example.
-Conversely, base salary might be more important to someone who is the main breadwinner – they might not be financially able to take a cut.
-Ensure you have a full understanding of full compensation including pension contributions, healthcare, LTIPs and paid bonus arrangements. Especially if your extended package doesn’t add up – you may well have to provide a cash equivalent.


To discuss further, you can email me on


You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.


Hiring an Interim Executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.


N.A.G.S cup – networking and golf society


Last week we hosted our final networking and golf society (N.A.G.S) of the year at Aston Wood Golf Club. Over the spring/summer months we have held a monthly golf networking meeting, where a diverse group of business owners, leaders, consultants and their networks, have all joined to play golf, network and have some fun!


Throughout the whole year, we’ve probably had an hour or two of rain in total – so when Carl kept saying he would provide good weather, he actually did!


For us, the golf event isn’t about inviting people to get business, it’s getting to know people and building relationships. In fact, more business has been done between participants of the society, which is very refreshing to see.


The society, known as N.A.G.S – networking and golf society – and we have had our very own trophy made for the overall, yearly winner.


The last day was a little more special, as we bought the society to a close at Aston Wood. We had our trick shot pro, Ady Wheatcroft on one of the par 3’s, our triple branded goodie bags, and a number of prizes on offer for the day.


You can check out some of the action here.


We’ll be hosting it again next year with our partners Mills & Reeves and HJ Wealth, it’s going to be bigger and better and we have some exclusive courses booked in for next year. If you’re interested in getting involved in next year’s society or want to discuss you can contact me on or sign up to the mailing list here.

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.


Why won’t top-performing shared service professions join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.


There will be no need for HR in the future

I have been told this a lot recently. HR is all going to be outsourced and tech will mean it’s no longer needed!

In fairness, this is what the doom-mongers are saying about most jobs these days isn’t it!?

HR is a rapidly changing area of business. The rise of self-service, ‘gig’ workers, outsourcing, and technological advancements have all played their part.

An HR departments role is to surely ensure that the organisation is performing, adopting a modern approach to its employee welfare and keeping it ahead of the competition.

So, what are the key elements to modernising HR?



Automation – embrace it! The point is not to replace HR. It’s meant to help people free up their time to think more strategically and longer-term. HR needs to become more innovative and come up with fresh new ideas to push the company forward and to have that competitive edge.


The gig economy

The gig economy – can be beneficial to organisations. Using consultants, freelancers and contractors give your business a lot more flexibility. There are fewer obligations in terms of holidays and sick pay…plus the benefit that they can quickly come in to set up and run new projects.

Embrace technology and tools that allow remote working to be more flexible as an organisation. It combats the negative impacts of inflexible working like non-productive stress and a disengaged workforce.


The skills challenge

In the digital era, skills are changing and moving quickly. The businesses that have the best talent win the game; you can see this already in some of the tech unicorns where people flock to work.

There is a likelihood that specialist skills in HR will become even more in demand, especially in areas such as recruitment – to bring the right talent into your business, not just in talent sourcing but also from a company branding and EVP perspective. Talent/OD specialists ensure that people are motivated and being effective.


Engagement and social innovation

Engagement and social innovation – are key! Asking employees their opinion is just the first part of the jigsaw; you need to focus on what can be done to help the business work better. If you get buy-in from the team, it can make a real difference, but just doing a survey every year so you can report stats to your boss isn’t going to cut it moving forward.

The digital age

In the digital age, companies that get their talent strategy right will ultimately be more successful.

HR has made huge strides to improve, even though it may have some way to go, most HR functions are currently undergoing huge investment and transformation from a digital perspective. This should give HR the ability to save time and act more strategically.

HR isn’t going to disappear, but it could well look a lot different than it does today…and HR does love a new job title every few years…answers on a postcard for future names for the function??


To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Hiring an Interim Executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.