Discover the 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 that 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 the 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.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Have we lost the work-life balance?

Work-life balance, we talk about it all the time. It’s so important to make sure you have a balance between your work and home life – we’re big advocates of it here. The last year has turned everything upside down and we’ve been at home permanently, so it has made the topic even more important and more widely discussed. Is work-life balance even a ‘thing’ anymore or have we progressed into something more fluid?

There are many factors to be considered when addressing the work-life balance argument – for me, they all centre around technology. Technology has allowed us to change the once rigid working environment – with a set place of work and working hours – to be much more fluid and relaxed. This advancement allows for far greater flexibility, but can add extra challenges for keeping the structure in place between your work and social life.

Remote working

Remote working allows us to work from anywhere, not just in the office. At home, on a train, in another office, even abroad. In most cases, all you need is your laptop and phone and Wi-Fi connection and you’re away. This flexible working allows employees to work in different places, where they may feel happier, more productive or more creative. It means they are able to work while they travel to a social event or go away for some peace and quiet, without taking holiday. Allowing work and life to intertwine can lead to a much happier, healthier and more productive team.


Flexitime gives employees the freedom to choose their hours to fit around their other commitments outside of work. This blurs the lines, but in my opinion in a positive way – you can work around dropping off your kids, having a personal appointment or event meeting friends. You do not need to sacrifice your work or your personal commitments – you still do your hours and get your work done but can also do the things in your personal life that are important.


Mobile phones and laptops are great because you can take them easily wherever you go, to work remotely. But this often comes with its own problems – if you use the same laptop or phone for both personal use and for work, it can be difficult to switch off. Many phones have emails and Slack and other forms of communication for work connected to them, which allows totally switching off from work almost impossible! There are solutions though – whether it’s keeping a separate phone for work or turning off notifications for certain apps, you can still maintain healthy barriers. Turning your phone to ‘do not distrub’ mode at times also helps to switch off – whether it is to concentrate on a project for work or to do something personal, it’s good to have some quiet time to concentrate.

Blurred lines

All these technological factors blur the lines between your work life and your home life. But is it necessarily a bad thing? In my opinion, the freedom and flexibility businesses and employees now have, to work where and when they want, is brilliant. And, although the factors blur the lines so work can creep into your home life, it also means your home life can merge into work-life too – you are able to juggle other responsibilities around work, rather than following a strict 9-5 Monday – Friday in the office. Less need to sacrifice things, including our own health. Having said that, it is still really important to make sure you keep a balance and sometimes – press the off button, to successfully manage stress in the workplace.

If you need some practical tips to help you, here are 6 tips for a better work-life balance.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

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