The personal and professional information that is available online about people in the marketplace is growing quicker than ever. Public and private databases, social media sites, news articles, industry-specific websites, job boards, conferences, social and professional associations and direct referencing are just some of the ways to build robust information on a person even before they are part of an executive search. While interviewing your candidates and dealing with them in face-to-face situations is as important as ever, using social media venues to research potential candidates allows you to dig deeper.
There is more value in social media than looking at an individual’s activity. Their connections can be helpful in further developing your talent pool and business development efforts – you can search through their team members, colleagues, former colleagues, and other people who have “liked,” “followed,” displayed interest in certain posts or belong to similar groups. You will find that a lot of comparable talent may be present in similar online spaces.
The use of social media as a sourcing tool has created new opportunities and new problems for efficiently managing information within search firms. Some of the benefits that these tools bring to search firms are:
- Minimizing the time it takes to get basic background information on a person and their employment history during the candidate identification stage of a search
- Providing quicker access to a candidate’s current and former co-workers and other connections for use in the referencing process
- Enabling efficient mass communication with groups of people to develop prospective candidates at the beginning of a search
- Utilizing the connections of colleagues to help with sourcing and business development
On the other hand, with the large increase in the number of sources and total amount of information now available, search firms are increasingly challenged with being able to:
1. Ensure they have explored all the different sources of information that exists
2. Prioritize which information is accurate and appropriate for assessing a candidate
3. Capture and share this information efficiently with their co-workers and with their clients
4. Optimize the usefulness of this information while minimizing the time it takes to collect itThe challenge comes from the fact that this information is often drawn from different sources – the individual could be discussed with your senior partner, your consultant, your senior associates, or your researchers. When you factor in multiple offices and a global workspace, how can you be sure that you are capturing the information that will make all the difference between you and your competitors?
These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that a search firm’s clients have access to many of the same tools that a search firm has. In order to get the upper hand when it comes to the right talent, you need to be accessing the right data at the right time. It becomes hard to rely on analyzing LinkedIn connections when some of them may not be as valuable, fresh or relevant as others. Similarly, LinkedIn endorsements have limited use – they are unregulated and often seem to come from complete strangers.
In order to get the upper hand when it comes to the right talent, you need to have a strategy to maximize the benefits of social media while minimizing its downsides. With general information being so easily obtainable, tracking deeper relationships can sometimes be the only thing helping you get a return call or email. Here are a few key things that a search firm can do:
Identify the critical data points for you and your clients. With so much more information available, it would be easy to get overwhelmed if you had to formally record everything you found out about a candidate throughout your search process. Define what matters and what doesn’t matter. By defining the critical data points that are important for your firm, you will enable your team to focus on the pieces of information that really matter.
Make sure your staff understands the payback. Capturing information for its own sake is not helpful. To build buy-in with your team, it will be important to stress why capturing a particular piece of information is important. For example, a researcher may be told to always capture who a candidate reports to and which people report to a candidate. This can take a fair amount of time to record, and without understanding the value of this information to a firm, may not be done consistently over time. On the other hand, if you are able to explain that by capturing this data the firm is able to more quickly develop candidates on future searches, shorten the time it takes to do references, and generate avenues to call into to pitch new business, it is more likely that this information will be maintained.
Deepen your relationships from the data you have already captured. Do not let your data become stale; create communications unrelated to a search. Enhance your referral network and candidate pool through email marketing campaigns. This will provide your firm with more personal, dedicated relationships with candidates, sources and clients.
Remember where the real value lives. What is most valuable to your clients is the information that is not publicly available. The most treasured data you provide can only be uncovered through your trusted relationships.
While the rise in online information has significantly changed the identification, prioritization and even the timeline of some searches, what has stayed constant is the need for a trusted partner to help analyze, guide and deliver it.
Assimilating all of this information that you have unveiled during your executive search process will contribute directly to your firm’s unique value proposition.
Encore is a relationship-based platform. One of Cluen’s core components to its executive search product is the Relativity tool, which allows you to capture proprietary data such as referrals, team connections, board associations, social circles and more. You probably already have this data flowing through your office, but may not be capturing it in a way that will be useful later. Relativity saves time in recording these details, and each additional piece helps you ‘connect the dots’ across all of your other knowledge. Quick access to this information is extremely helpful during an executive search and can help you validate your candidates as well as unearth new ones.