Post-pandemic executive searches

Post-pandemic executive searches


During the pandemic, executive recruitment became more complex, as reported by La Presse in this article from June 6, 2021. With longer searches, more intense negotiations, and virtual meetings, the entire executive recruitment process was turned upside down at a time when companies already had to adapt and pivot.

More than two years after the start of this war against an invisible enemy, where do we stand? And more importantly: what’s next? PIXCELL explores these questions.


For better or for worse: virtual meetings


Before the pandemic, recruiting an executive without meeting them in person was practically unheard of. However, mandated social distancing proved that it was indeed possible, and it has since essentially become the norm. This has, however, completely changed the dynamic for employers and candidates alike.

For example, before, the chair of the board would meet with a potential CEO candidate one-on-one. These days, it is not uncommon for the candidate to be interviewed by the entire board of directors in a virtual meeting. The process is more structured, but less quick and precise. Now, a virtual meeting can include multiple participants, but is that really the ideal way to assess a candidate?


A step back for women leaders


Even though studies have shown that women made excellent leaders for teams navigating these stressful and worrisome times, they also show an alarming overall drop in women in the workforce.

With schools and daycares closed, a greater number of women than men had to reduce their work hours or take professional leave to be able to fulfil their parental responsibilities. According to the Women in the Workplace 2021 study by McKinsey & Company, one in four executive women said that they considered downshifting their career or leaving the workforce during the pandemic. Worse still, women lost their jobs in higher numbers. In March 2020, 120,200 women in Quebec lost their jobs, compared to 55,100 men, according to the Government of Quebec’s Action plan to counteract the impacts of the pandemic on women (in French only).

Seeing as women were already lagging in terms of salary and representation before COVID-19, it goes without saying that the pandemic only exacerbated the problem. More women also suffered from burnout than men: 49% versus 38%, according to McKinsey & Company’s study.

So now what? Given all these findings, it is up to employers and recruiters to take action to restore balance. Diversity, equity and inclusion are trending more than ever, and with good reason. Companies need to reduce their unconscious biases and have more women in roles across all management levels and in their succession planning. Recruiters must also be ready for some women candidates to take a step back in their career path.


Tech opportunities to watch


Changes within companies, processes and supply chains have not been without their challenges, but they have brought about innumerable opportunities for reinvention across the board. Human resources and recruitment are no exception.

Big tech players like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce and LinkedIn are investing massive amounts of money into HR development. Many of these new tools will be applied to workforce recruitment, like automation and virtual reality. However, certain trends will eventually have an impact on executive recruitment.

Just think of big data, predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence. In the very near future, not only will these extremely powerful technological tools be able to easily assess a candidate’s path, competencies and leadership qualities, they will also be able to predict whether the candidate will be successful in a new role. While these innovations will never replace human judgment, they promise to be a helpful decision-making tool by eliminating certain unconscious biases that may undermine the recruitment process.


A new era of labour shortages


Recruiters and employers have had to adapt to this brave new world, where executive recruitment requirements abound and qualified candidates are in high demand.

Companies must pull out all the stops to attract candidates, leveraging assets such as employer brand and corporate culture, attractive working conditions, work-life balance, etc. They also need to expand their horizons, for example, by looking into international recruitment.

In short, while adaptation and resilience were key during the pandemic, they are still vital in today’s talent search world.


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