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cazatalentos headhunterLa profesión de consultor de búsqueda de directivos (headhunter o cazatalentos) ha alcanzado un nivel de madurez y sofisticación que permite profundizar en los servicios que ofrecemos y que -a veces- no todos los clientes conocen y aprovechan plenamente. En ocasiones, nos encontramos clientes que no han tenido buenas experiencias por no haber sabido seleccionar.

1. Elegir la firma adecuada a la necesidad. Para ello es necesario conocer bien las diferentes metodologías de reclutamiento; no se necesitan las mismas herramientas para buscar un Director con visión estratégica que dinamice una División madura con inercia, que para lanzar una start-up en Biotecnología o liderar un laboratorio especializado en Oncología.

Otra decisión es utilizar una firma especializada en un sector o función, o una generalista. Mi consejo sería utilizar aquella en que el consultor a cargo nos inspire la suficiente confianza y vaya a realizar el proceso personalmente, no a través de segundos. En algunos casos, un generalista puede ofrecer una visión “lateral” del puesto, mientras un especialista debe dominar el mercado de las compañías-objetivo, ir antes “al grano”  y ser más eficiente en el benchmarking con sus competidores.

2. El auténtico valor del consultor no está en identificar candidatos, -hay cientos de ellos en portales de empleo y redes sociales, que ofrecen las empresas de selección que trabajan “a éxito”- si no en:

– contar con los contactos y credibilidad en el mercado que permitan acceder a candidatos “no activamente en fase de búsqueda” y a fuentes/referenciantes de nivel; que puedan ponerlos en valor

– evaluar el “ajuste cultural” empresa-candidato -lo que más suele fallar cuando no hay química– , considerando  el historial del puesto, sus desafíos, retos, estructura…

– realizar entrevistas de nivel con criterio. Ningún directivo senior con 15-20 años de experiencia se motiva al cambio siendo entrevistado por un  junior.

– persuadirlos a un cambio que posiblemente no estaban buscando, ofreciendo un coaching espontáneo e inmediato.

– obtener referencias de superiores, colegas y prescriptores del sector o segmento de manera discreta, pero fiable.

– representar a su empresa ante el mercado: su headhunter es su “embajador” ante potenciales empleados.  Todas estas son tareas de consultoría profesional, que lleva su tiempo aprender y desarrollar; son “artesanas”, y requieren de un nivel de interlocución adecuado.

3. No delegue su relación con el consultor. Precisamente porque un consultor puede ofrecerle un valor añadido extra durante el proceso, no lo pierda utilizando intermediarios que transmitan la información. Un buen consultor de búsqueda de directivos es alguien que valora muy bien su tiempo y el de otros. Confíe en su consultor: raramente le hará perder tiempo.

4. Utilice la experiencia que le ofrezcan en cortejar candidatos y ofertar. Pocos directivos con responsabilidades de línea tienen tanta experiencia como un consultor, e incluso muchos Directores de RRHH no  suelen tener experiencia en tantas y tan diversas compañías. El consultor/a trabaja para usted y tiene todo el interés en desarrollar un trabajo satisfactorio a largo plazo con su organización.

5. Pida siempre informes y referencias de la calidad de sus trabajos previos. Los miembros admitidos a  la AESC han tenido que pasar una auditoría de métodos y procedimientos, y además se comprometen a cumplir un código ético hacia los clientes y los candidatos.

Esta entrada ha sido preparada con la valiosa colaboración de mi socio, Francisco Martín.

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Head Hunters-CazatalentosA pesar de mi batalla de muchos años por establecer que mi trabajo es el de Executive Search, por razones prácticas, he titulado esta entrada con los dos nombres más utilizados para nuestra profesión. Un blog es un buen sitio para confesar que en 20 años no he conseguido que ningún cliente ni candidato me llame Consultor de Executive Search … aunque lo sigo intentando.

Los orígenes de estos servicios son los de una extensión natural de la Consultoría estratégica y de gestión, y surgieron en los Estados Unidos. Uno de los reconocidos pioneros fue Sidney Boyden, que fundó la firma que todavía lleva su nombre en 1946. Sid había trabajado en la firma Booz, Allen & Hamilton, donde se decía que “a menudo, la solución a un problema de gestión, está en la persona”. BA&H empezó a buscar directivos adecuados para que resolvieran los problemas de sus clientes, hasta darse cuenta de que cobrar por recomendar otro servicio de la misma firma podía incurrir en un conflicto de intereses. En 1951, Ward Howell fundó su firma tras haber trabajado en McKinsey.

Poco después, en 1953, y también procedentes de BA&H, Gardner Heidrick persuadió a John Struggles  para fundar la firma que lleva su nombre en Chicago. Uno de sus consultores, Spencer Stuart fundó su propia firma en 1956. Esta formación de base en consultoría, llevó a todos estos pioneros a establecer unos fundamentos profesionales y éticos sólidos: método, rigor, objetividad; que legitimaban el trabajo como una especialización de la consultoría y llevarían en 1959 a fundar la Association of Executive Search Consultants AESC, que hoy cuenta con 17 firmas españolas miembros y un código ético ampliamente aceptado: no presentar el mismo candidato a dos clientes, no captar directivos de las empresas clientes, no falsear la información durante el proceso, etc.

Procedentes de la auditora Peat Marwick, Lester Korn y Richard Ferry fundaron Korn/Ferry en Los Ángeles en 1969; el mismo año en que Russell Reynolds fundaba su firma en Nueva York, esta vez procedente del sector de la banca.

La profesión se expandió hacia Europa e internacionalizó en los 60 y Egon Zehnder, -un consultor suizo de Spencer Stuart- fundó su firma en Zurich en 1964. De esa época es también el comienzo de Berndtson y algo posterior, Christopher Mill en Londres y Leon Farley en California fundaron en 1979 Penrhyn International, de la que EuroGalenus es el socio español. Las mayores firmas internacionales comenzaron sus actividades en España en los 70 (dejaremos esa historia para otra ocasión) y en los 80 y 90, se extendió como una práctica global.

Cualquier historia de la profesión no haría justicia si no reconociera el valor de un auténtico visionario: Thorndike Deland. En 1926, este neoyorquino se dio cuenta de las dificultades que tenían las empresas para cubrir algunos puestos de trabajo y pertrechado con un montón de monedas, comenzó -la que luego sería su firma- desde una cabina de teléfonos a buscar activamente candidatos para ellas. Su legado más importante fue establecer el trabajo retainer ,cobrando un fijo por búsqueda, más una comisión sobre el sueldo del empleado contratado.

La ilustración es de un LP de Herbie Hancock de los 70,  muy importante para la Jazz Fusion

Life Sciences Following from my recent post Recruitment differences in Health and Science last week I was invited to talk in Barcelona at the Personal España fair and exhibition about the differences that specialist recruiters have compared to generalists.

Basically I can identify three characteristics: consultants must have previous experience in the field, they understand and speak the language of clients and candidates and they also keep updated on the latest developments in the various segments of the industry. In short, both parts perceive that the consultant is “one of them”. This is not unique to Life Sciences; it happens the same with Finance, IT, etc.

In parallel, I was preparing a .ppt (with the help of Javier de Inocencio) presentation for the Life Sciences practice of my network Penrhyn International and had to summarize the advantages of these characteristics: Penrhyn-life-sciences-practice-presentation

1) A specialist recruiter can enrich the briefing with the client and even offer some benchmarking from the very beginning of the search.

2) Knows what target-companies to approach and whose not: it is more efficient. Complementary to this, can identify “lateral candidates”, the non obvious, sometimes temporarily in Consultancy, Services, another country, another function, etc.

3) Gets spontaneous referencing that is extremely valuable along the project.

4) Can focus the personal interviews on real key issues, avoiding generalizations and clichés.

5) When the practice consultants have complementary backgrounds and are based in different locations, they can also offer a true “global view” of the sector.

Hospital management healthWhat makes Biosciences executives different from other economy segments? It is commonly argued that it is a different industry with a certain endogamy seen in their  companies and some functions. Apart from the unpredictability associated with basic research, a basic difference is that Biosciences project a global approach from the very moment that a molecule is identified.  Here are three others:

* Permanent Innovation. With a clear science-and-research culture, innovation is embedding in this sector DNA. The most successful corporations are the ones with a clear commitment to R&D. An average R&D investment of 15%, that may go as high as 20% is difficult to beat for most industries, except sometimes IT or Telecom. Successful executives must get used to project management and drug development in many innovative disciplines such as Molecular Biology, Genetics,  Nanotechnology,  Proteomics, etc.  Any professional headhunter knows that Biosciences CEO’s and VP’s must not be sought from mature or “comfortable” sectors .

* Regulatory Affairs. A challenge for executives coming from other sectors is market access. Price is not free in most countries, packaging cannot be changed without notifying the health authorities, distribution channels are well established with the role of Hospitals and Pharmacies also regulated. Moreover, promotional claims or DTC advertising must pass previous approval in almost every country, particularly for reimbursed products. Business Development deals require a quick adapting to new segments with a strong focus on health economics, outcomes and reimbursement.

* The role of prescription. When the ultimate customer, the patient, is often remote and not in direct contact with the innovator, a pharmaceutical o biomedical product requires the professional advice of a prescriber. This works in cascades: international opinion leaders(OL’s), national OL’s and local OL’s. Nowadays, specialists -in a clear shift from primary care- again prescribe the most innovative and attractive products. And the number of stakeholders has grown in recent times, including now clinical boards assessing new drugs, patients associations, medical societies and -in countries like Spain- autonomous communities authorities, etc.

The advent of personalized medicine will mean more specialist drugs for smaller groups of patients and a shift back to science vs. marketing, -that was so effective in the me-too and blockbuster era-. Executives used to work with that type of products need to reset to the new targeted-only business model and the recruiters involved in these types of searches must have the “helicopter view” necessary to differentiate segments and cultures, on top of  speaking the language of the industry.

senior recruitmentA frequent analogy to the recruitment work is fishing. The result is similar: it is possible to have some fish out of the water but the process to get the right quantity and quality of fish can vary tremendously. The passive methodology is throwing a net (in the adequate place, grid size, time of the day, etc) wait and… keep our fingers crossed! We may find  many different fishes to what was requested, maybe even lobsters or oysters…but not the one needed. If a first attempt fails one has no other choice but to try again (put another advertisement, maybe in a different media, change specs, etc.)

The active methodology is used for rare and difficult species such as octopus, seafood, etc. when you need to “get wet” in order to find, chase and get the right piece. Anyone can see the much higher effort, dedication and specialization put in this active methodology and the example is perfectly valid for Executive Search.

A few years ago, technology allowed to create different internet networks and they have had great acceptance. All of a sudden the “get names” part of recruitment seemed much easier!  Initially social networks, such as Facebook, hi5 or MySpace and then professional networks: LinkedIn, Plaxo, naymz or Xing. Afterwards, even meta search engines such as Zoominfo are used to get information on individuals.  For some junior, technical and middle management positions, the results of  some employment portals like Monster  have been -and are- impressive: fast, effective and cheap. However, for senior positions the “validate these names” part, by objective, methodological and professional referencing is crucial and very necessary.

But there is still another very important -increasingly nowadays- part of the job change process; let’s call it “convince me why that job is better than my current”. Obviously, if we are approached by a well-known, solid and glamorous corporation for a position that holds more responsibility and remuneration we do not need much advice…but is it that always the case? 

Experience proves that a senior search consultant (headhunter) will be cost-effective to attract experienced talent. Experienced in board responsibilities, or in developing new markets, or in merging structures, or in turnarounds, or in “rain-making”…  A headhunter starts a search mandate by defining the target-companies list: where is it more likely to find the right candidates. Then, he or she will discreetly get exhaustive spontaneous referencing from peers. He or she will assess all candidates considered and analyze who would perform best in his client’s challenge. Finally, he or she will devote time and expertise to discuss with the incumbent why that particular challenge may be a good idea, particularly if one was not thinking about a move. It is also here, where personal consultancy shows a big added value vs. technology-only.

So my modest recommendation is that if you need a senior executive with skills that may be scarce in the marketplace, who would likely be happily employed and therefore be difficult to attract, then you need a retained executive search firm (headhunter). If you think there may be plenty of that type of candidate in the marketplace motivated for a change, then throw your net and… Buena Pesca!

When one considers a new recruit for an organization, a key decision is what recruitment methodology would be the right one.

A first intuitive driver points to the network of colleagues and acquaintances. This is a natural decision and works well for more than half of the times. However, the higher you go in the organizational hierarchy (up to the board) the less outstanding available executives you will know.

The acid test then for the company is to hire or not a recruitment firm, that is: to spend money on external help or managing the recruitment internally. If an organization decides to hire an external firm is thereby stating that the position is senior and important and they want to avoid making a mistake. The organization may be either too busy, understaffed or, -desirably- giving value to the consultancy contribution of the external firm. In terms of outsourcing services it means recognizing that somebody “out there” can be specialized and complete the recruitment process in a more professional, objective  and efficient way that oneself.  

The methodology possibilities are:

* An interim (renting an employee) agency can be quick and effective with some technical jobs. Pro: after an agreed period, the candidate may join the company, which knows well who is buying. Con: how many really good candidates will be out there willing to accept an interim job? And interim employment is less than popular in some countries…

* Selection by advertisement. Historically in the newspapers and now with the on-line portals, the system is the same. It is passive and the recruiting organization will only get candidates who are at that precise moment interested in a new challenge. One may certainly get good candidates (and that may be enough) but will never be sure if it is the best candidate available.

* Then we have the only active methodology: direct search. Recommended when the recruiting organization wants an executive who must bring a senior background and track record, so that  1) he or she is likely to have a similar or slightly inferior position in a direct competitor company  2) he or she are successful, and will possibly be happily employed, therefore, not replying to job ads or interested in a move. 

Direct search is worldwide known as headhunting and must be carried out by retained executive search consultants. The next question is: Why retained and not contingency, that is, firms which will only get paid when and if they produce the final candidate? And the answer goes implicit with the question: how much dedication and energy would anybody put in a project if they know that it is likely it may be done for free?

The value of a seasoned, experienced headhunter is the value of personalized consultancy. He or she will give a client the input from the marketplace, the perception of potential candidates about our company and other players and most important: will be a senior consultant devoting personal time to persuade the best talent in the marketplace that our professional challenge fits their expectations and ambitions. New technologies and social networks are a new way to get many names and positions, but the personal value of human appraisal (personal interviews) cannot be done by machines (yet).

Retained search firms have an Association www.aesc.org that has been defending the values of this professional form of Consultancy for 50 years now. Members are only admitted after an audit of procedures and must follow a strict Code of Conduct. They also edited the first Client’s and Candidate’s Bill of Rights.

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