The New Era Approach: Executive Search in the COVID Era

Published January 20, 2021

Executive search is always evolving, but when COVID hit, executive search professionals had to re-think the way they approached their work while staying true to the tenets of great executive search: networking and relationship building.

A moment like this makes you think about where you’re heading as an executive search professional and what resources you need to be successful at your job. For example, now you must consider whether you have the digital resources needed to transform the work you do and be successful at winning new clients and keeping business flowing.

At Comhar Partners, we have felt and leaned into this shift, ensuring that our consultants are supported in the work they need to do. While we can’t hop on a plane to sit down and connect with potential clients anymore, we can implement new tools and processes that ensure our team is able to do their work well, which ultimately means the business is thriving.

No matter the circumstances, we need to be sure that clients are satisfied with us and the hires we find for them.

In the last few months, we’ve developed a new approach to finding search clients and seeking the best candidate, despite distance and regulations. Learn more about what we call The New Era Approach and how you can implement it in your firm.

First and Foremost: The Key Elements are the Same

The key elements of executive search are still the same. For example, our objective is still to seek the best clients for our expertise, leverage our network, and provide the client with an outstanding hire. What’s changed is the process of finding the best clients for our firm and the ways in which we empower our firm leaders to find and win those clients.

Winning the Client: Lean into Tech

Before we can do our job, we need the client, and the process for finding a client has shifted. If we can’t get a sense of what they’re like in person, we have to do greater due diligence before ever approaching them.

The goal is the same as it always is: find a firm that we can fully support and also work well with. However, we now work more collectively as a firm, using technology to segment various aspects of the business, ensuring we get all the information we can upfront, before ever approaching them.

This allows our consultants to be more in a marketing-building and market-awareness mindset instead of down in the weeds. Each consultant uses our extensive database to search for firms based on:

  • The level they service. I.E. C-level, staff level, or middle management.
  • The depth of knowledge they bring to a particular industry or function. 
  • Proximity to the client. While this is less important now with COVID, as regulations shift, we want to be able to move back to in-person whenever possible.

By blending each of these elements, we ensure that everyone on the team is prospecting the clients that are the best fit for them. As we continue to adjust to the new normal, we’re also starting to use API connections to automatically pull data and insights into our CRM, KeyHires. This allows us to curate the most accurate and effective data for making decisions and connecting with key potential clients and candidates.

Finding the Right Hire: Less Charm, More Competency

The New Era Approach is focused more on competency, approaching each new client with a few key elements that show we can in fact still find them the best hire for their needs, despite distance and regulations. As you’ll see, this doesn’t necessarily have to involve high-tech tools. Our process involves:

  • A digital presentation of our search processes and relevant capabilities
  • A research strategy document
  • An outline of how we plan to market the job
  • An interactive digital position profile detailing all key components of the job description
  • An assessment scorecard to be used to help evaluate candidates
  • A candidate slate used to present calibration candidates to the potential client

The goal for us is to provide thoughtful, constructive, free up-front work to demonstrate we’re the right firm and are able to target the right firms to find the best hire. As an executive search consultant, it’s important to consider whether you have the resources to pull this work together or if you’re left figuring it out yourself.

Executive Search During COVID is Still Strong

Your job as an executive search consultant is not over because of the pandemic. With the right team, digital tools, and COVID-friendly processes in place, you can still do the work that you love and keep business coming through your door.

Bernard Layton is a Managing Director and the Co-Founder of Comhar Partners. He has has over 27 years of mid-level and senior-level executive search experience within the Industrial, Engineering, Construction, Business Services, Consumer Products, Professional Services, and Financial Services industries.

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