Author: InterSearch Ireland

Mid-Year Career Assessment and Review

As we approach the mid-year mark, and you are either well settled in your current role, new to the role or considering a change in the short or long term, it is important to take some time and assess where you are in your career journey. I believe that before you set out on any career-related move, you must have clarity of your short-term and long-term career goals. Create a checklist of your objectives and achievable timelines and know the resources available to you to guarantee accomplishments (internal and external). Most significantly – be willing to push yourself and embrace change and the challenges that come with it.

Change is paramount:

In carrying out an assessment and review of your career, one of the key outcomes of your assessment MUST be the need for CHANGE! If you do not identify an area in your plan that requires transformation or change, then you might need to re-evaluate your goals or you might be one of life’s lucky few.

‘Change’, to some, equals risk. However, change does not have to be drastic. It does not have to turn your work life off-kilter and give you palpitations. It could be something such as setting out to get some training that will equip you for a desired career move, getting a new skill (career related or otherwise), moving closer to home in the long term, or adjusting your obligation to accommodate a healthy work-life balance.  The list of little and big changes is inexhaustive. So, in reviewing your career at this time of the year, look for that achievable change that will impact positively on your work-life balance.

Oftentimes, we forget that there is more to life than work. Take time to consider your mental and physical wellbeing. Take time to enjoy family and friends. Learn something new outside of work. I guess what I am saying is that changes do not always have to be geared towards getting the next promotion or the next role, important though that is. The bigger picture shows much more than that. There is a whole world out there that you need to fit in and find the space that gives you some joy and satisfaction.

Do not forget life outside work:

We often forget about small successes and accomplishments, especially in our personal life. It is easy to focus on the deal that fell through, the role that was lost, the account that was and is challenging to manage, the impossible and micromanaging boss (an aside, I think if you have one of these bosses, hey presto – this is a signal for a change). There are a host of work-related challenges and it is vital to know that work is rarely free of such challenges. Life challenges us all the time, how you come out at the end of it is what matters. Explore opportunities to fit work around your personal life – family, friends, sports, hobbies and other areas of interest to you. Give yourself the gift of a wholesome life. Sometime in the future you change jobs, you retire and colleagues move on, but all the others remain in your life. Review and assess where you are at with them and plan for your career with them in mind.

Review challenges and difficulties:

I am a keen believer in learning from experience, we see this at work all the time – what have we learnt from a difficult assignment, how do we ensure that we are better prepared to overcome past difficulties, what are the positive takeaways from the experience, what are the comparisons to other similar or relevant assignments. All these questions generate answers that prepare the organisation for the next project, they expose new knowledge and opportunities that may have remained untapped.

Likewise, in assessing your career, look for learning opportunities in challenging and difficult projects, they tend to help you discover areas that you may need to make some changes, acquire new knowledge and identify different ways to achieve your objectives.

Set yourself up for success:

Celebrating your successes, learning from experiences, identifying areas for change and transformation and working towards achieving a work-life balance are areas that can help you assess where you are at this time of the year and plan for the future. A word of caution – change is a constant, planning for the future is planning for success. However, plan to succeed, develop achievable goals and never underestimate the impact of out-of-work activities on your life and career.

In summary, there are so many pieces and articles that tell us how we can work to achieve our career goals. These are mostly focused on what you can do in the workplace to help you be a step above your peers, meet your target, climb up the career ladder at a steady pace and possibly find your niche in your chosen industry. As you review your goals, also make sure to review other aspects of your life as oftentimes, we tend to underestimate the input of family, friends, the environment and other activities on a successful and satisfying career.

Written by: Clementina Mustapha

Executive Search Specialist, 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.

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