Executive search and how to cut through the marketing puff.

Last week a post popped up in my LI feed that tweaked my interest. I’d read that following an “extensive, global search”, undertaken by no-less than “a global specialist, executive search agency” with offices pretty much everywhere, the Acting CEO had been appointed. Lots of congratulatory LI posts followed.

It made me think about what a global specialist, executive search agency really is & what results they’ve achieved compared to us simple folk at Sportspeople Recruitment. After all, we are only a globally connected, local business servicing AU & NZ sport; so surely having "global" or "international" in your moniker & bricks & mortar offices in far away places, must make you “really special”.

Nope. Apparently, marketing puff can be really deceiving. Who’d have thought that, right?

We love data at Sportspeople Recruitment. In fact, we have mountains of data accumulated over 28 years of servicing the AU & NZ sport sector. We regularly publish bits of data, while other bits are used for our own intel. Like all good businesses, we also track data on other recruiters (aka competitors), that offer services to this sector.

So, in true Myth Busters style, we grabbed the data for the past 42 of the 251 CEO appointments managed by Sportspeople Recruitment. We then selected a recruiter that provides services for the AU sport sector, and in our opinion at least, makes the loudest claims to be a "global executive search agency".  Over the same period, we had data on the 18 CEO roles they'd filled.

Next step was to identify the placement outcome, in particular whether the appointment was someone who presently worked for the organisation ("internal") or was currently in the substantive “Acting CEO” role immediately before appointment as permanent CEO.

Of the 42 CEO managed by Sportspeople Recruitment, <8% resulted in either the internal or Acting CEO being appointed. So, we're not perfect, but not too bad overall. Our appointments included candidates from outside AU & NZ as well as local. That's right, global candidates from our Talent Network.

Of the 18 CEO appointments managed by the “global, executive search firm”, 44.4% or nearly 1 in 2 appointments saw an internal or Acting CEO get the job; while 5 of the 18 “global search” outcomes ended with the person sitting in the chair, remaining in the chair. The number of candidates appointed from outside AU or NZ, was also less than Sportspeople Recruitment. Is that a t
rend or practice?

Take outs? If you want to appoint the Acting CEO, give them a trial, rather than running a process that has a predetermined outcome. Be transparent with candidates & disclose there is an internal applicant of interest - this shouldn't stop a candidate from applying, they simply need to be better than the person in the chair.

And, don’t fall for the puff from global, executive search firms they’ll present a deeper candidate group than a globally connected, local recruiter. Data shows they don’t.

Got to love data.

Robert McMurtrie

Director, Talent & Search
Sportspeople Recruitment


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