Author: InterSearch Ireland

Talent Hunting in a competitive Irish Market

With Brexit looming over Europe and the uncertainty around how it will affect all facets of trade and travel, one certain thing is that its impact on the Irish economy will be significant. This is more so in the sectors that are reliant on the Irish -United Kingdom trade link; agri-food exporters, tourism, and other sectors. In spite of the projected challenges, there is significant opportunity, a silver lining if you like – as Ireland is well placed to see an increase in the influx of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and companies looking to be domiciled in the EU, Dublin oftentimes seen as the viable option.

With this opportunity comes obligation and needs. The impact on infrastructure, cultural diversity and importantly, talent demands are projected to be significant. The challenges experienced in Executive recruitment today is primarily based on the impact of a candidate driven field. With the influx of multinationals and other organisations moving to Ireland, the demand for top talent increases and the power shifts more and more to the candidates.

Companies who have operated in Ireland for decades and have for so many years influenced the recruitment process will find that this is no longer the case. From experience, I can see that candidates have multiple options. They are valued in their current organisation and that is not by accident. Discerning employers are keen to hold on to top talents. They are increasingly investing in employee wellbeing, professional development thus ensuring employee engagement.

Talent is based on experience and experience is earned from years of performance. To attract top talents, employers must be proactive. Top talents need YOU to convince them to leave their current employers. Your offer need not be commensurate with their current package – it needs to be more than that.

This is the current position of the candidate driven market in Ireland. Add to that the impact of Brexit – traditional Irish employers are faced with the challenge of competing with multinationals for available talents. The need for introspection and objective assessment cannot be overemphasized.

A look at the recruitment timeline is a no brainer – a viable candidate is NOT going to wait for months for a decision to be made by a prospective employer. Organisations need to recognise that if you think a candidate is strong; you are most definitely not alone in that assessment. Your competitors are also aware of that and most significantly, so is the candidate. Re-evaluate your hiring timeline and be proactive in the recruitment process. If an ideal candidate is identified and is engaging, time wasting is not an option! Time and attention should be on relevant role alignment and person/cultural fit. At executive level, interview boards MUST be able to differentiate interview questions for entry level staff and know that using this approach at executive or middle management level is off-putting to top talents.

Have a critical look at the role specification, person requirement and the package you are offering – how realistic is it for your ideal candidate to leave his/her current employer and location for your offer? I have had candidates say; “the salary on offer is way below their current package”, “this is my dream role, but location is not suitable”, “I am expecting a promotion in a few months and it makes no sense to move for what is on offer”. Employers need to be prepared to face these eventualities and have options in place to attract this candidate. It is oftentimes said that once a problem is identified, you are halfway towards a solution.

When recruiting at any level, it is important to be professional and treat all parties involved in the hiring process with respect. This is important so as to avoid the need for awkward conversations in the near future that might leave you with fewer talent options. Employers cannot afford to be aloof in this market. The core to the success of a business is customer service, treat prospective candidates as you will treat your customers. As a matter of fact, they are your customers because they base their perception of your organisation on their experience with you prior to joining your organisation.

Companies need to explore the need for diversity, they cannot afford to overlook this critical issue. The ideal candidate does not have to fit a specific profile, there needs to be flexibility, thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting top talents is a must especially for SMEs. Blue chip companies and multinationals applied this for years hence their ability to attract top talents from diverse cultures and gender. With Brexit in the horizon, Irish companies cannot afford to exclude themselves from the diverse talent pool within and outside of Ireland.

For companies that retain Executive search firms, it is important to be proactive. Discuss and analyse your expectations and projected challenges with the head-hunter. Listen to feedback, monitor and re-evaluate as needed. Hiring managers have to adhere to company guidelines, however, it is important that they give realistic feedback to their line manager or the Board hence the need for objective analysis of the talent market relevant to the position on offer.

“Once an offer has been made, it is imperative that the prospective employers maintain constant communication with the incoming executive during the notice period. This helps the onboarding process and creates as seamless a transition as possible to the new culture. Feedback in the areas of induction preparations, payroll information and role relevant updates (where confidentiality is not breached) should present opportunities to keep the offeree engaged and possibly overcome any signs of doubt during this period of time” – Micheál Coughlan

In summary, hiring companies need to critically analyse their talent needs, re-evaluate the hiring process and timeline, be open to diversification and be proactive throughout the hiring process.

Written by Clementina Mustapha,

Executive Search Researcher, InterSearch Ireland 

Leadership Strategy Development – Part 3

Developing your Leadership Strategy

Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their strengths.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland, 14th December 2018

“Your most important sale in life is to sell yourself to yourself.” – Maxwell Maltz

It is challenging to actively promote yourself because of the fear of being perceived as arrogant, but in an interconnected world, I do not think that you should be wary of doing it. If your self -sales pitch is backed by verifiable data; experience and achievements, why fear? You have earned the right to promote yourself. Most importantly, note that selling yourself is a necessary tool for career growth.

At C-suit level, it is not enough to assume landing the ideal leadership position is constitutive of your acquired experience and skills. Creating opportunities, networking and in some instance, interviews communicate information about you as a worker, in other words; representations of you as a product- not the product itself. So how you represent your experience, personality, and work ethic is really important, it is what gets you your executive role.

In developing a business plan, we carry out an extentive analysis – market research, product analysis, benchmarking, consumer/target analysis, and other relevant surveys. The outcome of these studies basically informs on the viability of a product or service through identification of target needs and wants, communicating of desirable outcomes and then developing a marketing strategy.

Similarily, it is important to carry out an analysis of your hard and soft skills, your track record, your achievements, and your capabilities going forward. Armed with this information, develop your unique selling points and start marketing yourself. As earlier mentioned, allowing yourself to be daunted by the fear of self-promotion as a vain and arrogant trait is self-defeating. Remember that no one can sell you as well as you can sell yourself – think of what a hiring manager’s thoughts are listening to your compelling sales pitch; “knows his/her stuff”, “confident”, “great representative for our brand”, “good communicator” ……

Oftentimes, your CV tells your prospective employer much of your hard skills but what you communicate when selling yourself are those skills that are not easily verifiable on paper- stakeholder management, change management, work ethic, communication skills, adaptability, confidence, problem solving and critical observation to mention but a few. It’s your responsibility to take any opportunity to make others sit up and notice your work and skill set. You are your own Director of Marketing.

Note that in the business of selling yourself, NEVER make the mistake of misrepresenting yourself. Credibility at executive level positions is key to your reputation!

From a careful analysis of your career progression, you will be amazed at your past achievements. Develop a value proposition based on your experience and skills and ask hard questions of yourself – What do you do best? Who can you best serve? Look at a SWOT analysis of yourself. What makes you different? Based on the outcome of this analysis, you can get a better sense of who you are, what you have to offer and who you can serve. Create a value proposition that is compelling and helps you stand out amongst your peers. It’s also important to back up your reputation with results from your past work and projects. If you can prove your abilities and not just talk about them, you will be much more effective at persuading people to take notice.

As we approach the new year and you look back at your career in the last year and the desired progression for the coming year and beyond, start by building a case study into any project that you have been involved in so as to leverage on them as part of your marketing pitch.

Finally, as you begin to identify opportunities, build and leverage on your networks and promote and sell yourself. It is important to note that one of the key stakeholders that you have in your network; to conscript into your marketing plan is the Executive Search Consultant. They are in the unique position of having first-hand experience with their client – your prospective employer, they have access to a wide network of professionals, industry knowledge and most importantly, they are willing to listen to you; and how you sell yourself to the head-hunter is key to how he/she sells you to the client.

At InterSearch Ireland and within the InterSearch Worldwide network, we work diligently to ensure that we attract the best talents for our clients anywhere in the world. We do this by going way beyond ticking job specification boxes. We pay attention to the mutually beneficial traits between candidates and clients to make for seamless fits.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Clementina’s article HERE.

Leadership Strategy Development – Part 2

Developing your Leadership Strategy

Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their strengths.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Researcher, InterSearch Ireland

In my previous article on Developing your Leadership Strategy, the ability to recognise and if necessary, create opportunities, was highlighted as one of the key objectives of aspiring leaders. With the goal of achieving leadership positions, individuals can have quite different approaches. Some let their actions speak for them, others push their actions to decision makers, while some explore many routes to leadership such as pursuing a multi-faceted approach; by making themselves significant subject experts in the industry, positioning themselves as the go-to person for insights and information.

Do you ever wonder how some names keep coming up at almost every professional seminar, workshop, lecture or event that you attend? Well, those individuals are strategic players in the art of positioning.

As earlier stated, aspiring leaders recognise that they are a unique brand that needs to be developed, positioned and promoted. This brings me to a skill that in my opinion is vital should you aspire to leadership positions – Networking.

“You’ve got to learn the footwork, the positioning, how to box out, how to pass, how to shoot your free throws. All these things are necessary, not to be the No. 1 player in the world, but maybe you can play against him.” – Oscar Robertson

In our daily interactions, we come across people who know someone in our network of contacts. It is important that we develop our network as a resource that can and will work for us. Sometimes, the thought of networking might seem daunting as it is assumed that we need to have a lot of people in our contact list – that was my initial thought! Alas, to my relief, numbers do not always equate to quality!

Strategically developing our network is made much easier when the groundwork of positioning oneself as a desirable brand is planned and executed. Targeting industry influencers may not be an easy feat and oftentimes we fail to consider other avenues to reach them. Great networkers not only have C-suite names in their contact list, but they are also adept at linking up with gatekeepers, headhunters and other not so obvious individuals that are vital sources of valuable information.

It is important to identify the purpose of your networking activities. If the aim is to manage current internal responsibilities, your network needs to be operational. You should identify your current needs, challenges, assigned departmental or organisational outcomes and develop a plan of action on how to use relevant people in your network to achieve desired outcomes.

How you position yourself in the network is key in this instance, this is where you implement your ability to create opportunities not only for yourself but also for the team, showcase your skills and knowledge and be instrumental in the creation of an efficient and functional team.

I believe that to use your network at an operational level, it is also significant that you build personal networking into your strategy. This way, you are able to improve your personal development and create a leadership style that will work for you.

Using a combination of operational and personal networks, aspiring leaders need to recognise that they have the recipe for strategic networking. This is the networking tool vital in the identification of new business or career directions, important stakeholders in the industry and an awareness of prevailing strategic thrust of competing players in the industry.

The goal here is to recognise where and how you fit and positioning yourself as the ideal person to help prospective employers achieve their strategic goals.

It is important to note that management positions are most times not actively advertised and those with the required skill sets may not be actively seeking new roles. Aspiring leaders should not close the doors to Executive Search Firms; that phone call might just be the opportunity to your next leadership role! Have relevant industry Head Hunters in your network, they are important sources of information on roles that may fit your profile. Liaising with Executive Search firms will give you an insight into current skill-set requirements in your industry which is an important intelligence that you need for planning your career progression.

Visibility to Executive recruiters is an important way to keep informed of relevant positions in your industry. However, note that building relationships with executive recruiters is a two-way street. If you are not accessible, you may be missing out on that ideal opportunity, as oftentimes the type of searches carried out by executive search firms are not usually advertised on conventional channels. C-Suite aspirants must ensure that they are visible to industry stakeholders and influencers in order to be considered for senior management positions.

As stated earlier, to make your network functional, ensure that you are involved in industry events either as a speaker or participant, have your publications on relevant professional media channels to position yourself as an industry/subject expert, and join relevant professional organisations. All of these will help to boost your networking capabilities and get you noticed by important stakeholders and most significantly by the Executive Search firms who have been retained by your desired employer to search and find you for your ideal position.

InterSearch Academy

2018 InterSearch Worldwide Academy – Ireland

InterSearch Ireland recently hosted the InterSearch Worldwide Academy in Dublin, Ireland, in the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road.

Each year, the Academy offers Consultants and Researchers within the InterSearch Worldwide network the opportunity to discuss and explore the hottest topics in our industry. 25 consultants and researchers from 17 different countries came together for a weekend full of knowledge-sharing, open discussions, and social activities.

This year covered a variety of topics from changing markets and industries, to business development, to employer branding and cross-border and multi-country assignments. Participants also explored ways of further developing local and global capabilities.

Along with the Academy training, the evenings gave the consultants, researchers, and trainers the opportunity to get to know one another further through terrific dining experiences and experiencing the local culture by watching live traditional music and getting a tour of Dublin City. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time getting to meet with new and familiar faces from the InterSearch family.

On successful completion of the Academy, each participant was awarded with a certificate. We are delighted that all three researchers from InterSearch Ireland attended the Academy and were also awarded with certificates.

“We found the InterSearch Academy to be a great opportunity to network with other researchers within the InterSearch family.  We had open discussions based around best practices, our individual contribution to our team, and how we can positively impact business development. We took so much from the experience, and it was certainly a weekend to remember.”

  

 

 

 

 

InterSearch Ireland would like to thank all of the consultants and researchers for their participation. Although InterSearch Ireland were honoured to have hosted this year’s event, it wouldn’t have been such a success without András Lipcsei (Hungary), Jonas Soenens (Belgium), Summer Hamad (Dubai), Carla Calvo (InterSearch Worldwide), and our very own Micheál Coughlan (InterSearch Ireland). The training and hospitality they provided made the experience even more memorable.

Leadership

Leadership Strategy Development – Part 1

Developing your Leadership Strategy

Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their leadership strengths.

Written by Clementina Mustapha, Executive Search Researcher, InterSearch Ireland

Aspiring to lead a team, a unit, department, organisation, or even a government requires meticulous planning. As a team leader, you hope that your manager or unit head will recognise your leadership potentials, however, you consciously or unconsciously play out your leadership skills to the intended audience. As you progress through the ranks, it becomes a skill that you have honed through the years – this is true for any sector or industry! You want to lead? Then you want to be seen as a leader and you do all you can to prove that you can lead.

Individuals with these skill sets are very adept at marketing themselves. In the goods and services industry, we talk about product development, brand development and marketing, market penetration and diversification all with the aim to expand current markets, acquire new markets, promote brand and/or organisational reputation. This way a firm maintains competitive advantage and possibly ensures market leadership. It takes a lot of investment in planning and execution! Same requirements for potential leaders.

Identifying Opportunities

Should you be seeking executive leadership roles, you have got to consider yourself as that product or brand that your current or prospective employer seeks in order to achieve the next level of organisational success.

This brings me to your ability to identify opportunities. You are likely aware of new openings in your current organisation, however, true leadership aspirants need to develop the vision to recognise opportunities.

“Don’t wait for the right opportunity: create it.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Understanding your industry, the market, new market entrants, new technology, new legislation, new skill sets and identifying the need to make changes all present opportunities. On the surface, analytics from surveys of the aforementioned may be considered as challenges by a majority of your colleagues, but the leader in you sees the silver lining, the opportunity to create something new, take charge of a new project, volunteer to adapt a new technology or relocate to advance the goal of the company. These are opportunities that a leader recognises and helps to create.

Outside your firm, you can also explore leadership opportunities by equipping yourself with sectoral knowledge.  Do not close yourself to approaches from head-hunters – recognise the opportunity that they present! You may not know all the potential leadership roles out there – it is the job of Executive Search firms to present these roles, and help identify and place people with your skill sets in their client organisations.  They look at leaders or executives who have helped similar size companies achieve large growth and have insight into what works. They understand how you have successfully developed or implemented strategies and tactics that were successful at your previous employment. In collaboration with you they explore how you can transfer your skills into developing new strategies or implementing change in their clients’ organisation.  As a result of your experience, you have a benchmark of success for what is attainable for a prospective employer.

Simply put, you have to appreciate the opportunities that Executive Search firms present to you as a source of leadership opportunities.

“Opportunity is everywhere. The key is to develop the vision to see it.” – Anonymous

 

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