When working as a young executive search consultant, I considered myself an open-minded, innovative reformist, a firm believer in continuous improvement. And with this attitude, I approached and did my work. When I looked back every few years, I clearly saw that we had improved and developed. Our processes, know-how, and how we did things were again a little better. I felt we were developing at lighting speed. In my wildest daydreams, I sometimes even felt like being a part of the group that made the whole executive search industry develop.  

When I look at what is happening in the recruiting market nowadays, it now feels, despite whatever speedy feelings I may have had in the past, that I was moving at a snail’s pace back then compared to the tremendous speed at which things are happening these days.  

We, humans, have complicated minds. When looking back in time, many assume that back then, everything was done more inefficiently than now. Not true. A lot of things were done better. It is also easy to forget that most of what we do today is based directly on what people did yesterday. New best practices, processes, and machines do not suddenly appear from thin air. We have not invented everything. We benefit from what others have done before us.

And the future. Even though you may have been a most continuous improvement-minded person as young, the older, the more experienced you get, the more conservative you tend to become. No more do you accept all new ideas just like you used to do. I think this happened to me too. However, I have now humbly come to other thoughts, again trying to look at the world with an open mind.

Technology, conditions and the needs of the companies and their employees/job seekers nowadays change on a more or less continuous basis and at a vastly different speed than before. The future is coming, whether we want it or not. Those who develop and improve will manage. Those who do not develop or improve usually have a grimmer future. 

I recently read how a young recruiting professional, still relatively new in the industry, talked about their company and how it operated. How they continuously strive to improve their processes, service concepts, and overall doings to correspond to their customers’ needs even better, and how good it feels when you succeed. How they also make mistakes, but how they then try again and learn from their mistakes until everything has been fixed.

I got really excited about what he said. It reminded me of myself when I was a young consultant in the executive search industry, trying to develop new concepts. In those days, I thought just like him. I have, in one of my writings, described this as follows: 

“Pretty much everything started from scratch. If anything, it was learning by doing. In the beginning, often all you had, all you could do, was give it your best thought, then give this thought your best try. We felt excited and very motivated. We thought we were creating something new and that we were a part of a new industry emerging. Great days, I can tell you.” 

I am confident this is how many present-day recruiters, who actively try to develop the recruiting industry, also think anno domini 2022, that is, Great days, I can tell you. 

We do not discuss recruiting in black and white anymore. We are not anymore only talking about advertised search and headhunting. Instead, nowadays, we try to customise the service according to the customer’s needs. There are a lot of new recruiting professionals/companies in the industry who have developed entirely new concepts and services and, mind you, are successful. This is precisely what the recruiting industry needs, fresh thinking and an open mind. When the recruiting needs of the business world change, the recruiting industry must change accordingly. This does not take anything away from anyone and does not mean that everything or everyone must change. 

My professional experience is from executive search, which for me is the Formula 1 class of headhunting if you allow me a little freedom of speech. Here, many things that were important 20, 30 or even 50 years ago are still important. The CEO or chairman of the board of a billion-dollar multinational company will hardly ever be recruited via social media but as before. Of course, executive level management search is also developed and improved, but here focusing explicitly on developing the processes, methods, and service concepts related to executive management level searches. This may not always be so public due to the nature of the business, as most assignments are done confidentially. However, also here there is new thinking, open-mindedness, continuous development, and improvement, just like anywhere else in the recruiting industry. 

Lastly, I want to say it has been a great privilege and refreshing to have the opportunity to meet so many recruiting professionals, both newcomers and oldies, who nowadays develop and improve the recruiting industry with such an open-minded, energetic, and unbiased approach. In my mind, the recruiting industry is in good hands. 

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