The critical success factor in personnel consulting
In today’s digital era, personnel consulting faces pressure from advances in technology, just like many other traditional industries. Searching for candidates, doing research as part of excellent personnel consulting, is growing more important in particular.
Digital advances, job boards, and business networks put pressure on personnel consultants. And that's as it should be. When Thorndike Deland laid the cornerstone for our industry in 1926, after World War I, his goal was to counteract the lack of top figures at the policy level in North America. To that end, he forged personal ties instead of placing job ads.
A lot of things haven’t changed since then. The death of job ads has been proclaimed many times over the years, but they still exist. But in today’s era of Xing and LinkedIn and job platforms like Stepstone and Indeed, personal networks are becoming less of a factor. Many personnel consultants these days hire primarily students or recent graduates to do more than just search for suitable candidates on these portals; they also contact them directly. We call this “active sourcing.”
On LinkedIn, any CEO, CFO, or other important figure can be contacted directly, typically with a quick response. That means today’s networks are different from those that existed in Deland’s day. Up until 2005 or so, networks consisted primarily of personal contacts. But those contacts don’t always add value, and they are becoming less important. In a digital world, everyone knows everyone else. Whether that means in person or online is largely unimportant.
In the digital era, smart and lasting databases are becoming increasingly important. It’s all about finding what you're looking for, combined with speed and the right quality person. All this means the personnel consulting market is facing a shift. Every personnel consulting firm that can afford to do so has built an internal research department over the past three to five years, with the search for suitable candidates taking on greater emphasis.
But that doesn’t mean the job is done. To bring sophisticated clients together with the right people on a lasting basis, much more is needed.
That brings us to the question of how the research is structured. Are there solid contacts with industry insiders as a potential source of current data? How is the online search process organized? Is there a smart database, or beyond that, an ERP system that guarantees that the entire search process can be handled quickly? And last but not least, are AI tools already in use?
What used to be purely a cost factor for the previous generation is now being appreciated more and more. Not only are our clients’ needs growing, but they also require the utmost in transparency across search processes. According to an internal study conducted by DEININGER CONSULTING in 2021, 89% of clients want to get to know the first few candidates in person in four to six weeks. To meet these standards, we need one thing above all in addition to the digital solutions mentioned above: the right research team to ensure that the search is handled efficiently. In the end, this represents the kind of teamwork we need in the digital era, with all aspects working together hand in hand.