What are the new key criteria for the recruitment of executives and managers?

What are the new key criteria for the recruitment of executives and managers?

The rapidly changing labour market and, more recently, the Covid-19 crisis, have sparked new aspirations for candidates. The economic recovery and the continued digital transformation of companies have led to increased tension in the labour market, and new trends and aspirations among candidates. When selecting a company, candidates focus on criteria that are not always sufficiently understood or well evaluated by employers. This is a trend that Arrowman Executive Search wishes to explore directly in the French and international markets, as Jean-Pierre Scandella, its CEO, explains, by launching a survey of the candidates recruited in the last two years.

What are the new decision-making criteria for candidates in the context of recruitment? 

Today, candidates are attentive to several criteria simultaneously when they choose a company. The possibility to telework has become as important as the attractiveness of the salary, the quest for a meaning, the appeal of the company’s project and the human attention that the recruiters show them. The need for flexibility, autonomy and freedom was not created by the Covid-19 crisis. It is a fundamental trend that we have been observing for several years and which is reflected, in particular, by the rise of freelancing and independent work. The health crisis has only accelerated this process, notably through the generalization, sometimes at a forced pace, of teleworking. However, not all employers have taken into account the importance of this phenomenon yet. While it is more and more difficult to recruit, due to the scarcity of good profiles on the market, it is now urgent for companies to carefully evaluate all the criteria and their influence on the decision of candidates. 

What is the risk for companies that do not take into consideration these criteria? 

The risk is significant: companies that do not understand that candidates are looking for flexibility in their work style will not succeed in recruiting the best profiles. They will therefore cut themselves off from an important source of talent. In a market where there is an imbalance between supply and available skills, the companies that are reluctant to adopt telework, for example, will suffer the greatest losses. This is especially true as competition has increased in some industries and skills are becoming scarce, such as in the digital and new technologies sectors. Start-ups and unicorns, for example, which prefer flexible working environments, are attracting a growing number of candidates. Small and medium-sized companies or more generally companies that advocate a more “traditional” management style can no longer ignore this trend, even if they are leaders in their market. It is therefore in their interest to go beyond the fear of losing the collective commitment of their teams.

How does the candidates’ quest for meaning translate? 

The quest for meaning has several dimensions. First of all, candidates want to work with companies that have human values close to their own. Secondly, they are looking for companies that will allow them to find a balance between their professional and personal lives. This quest for meaning goes hand in hand with the attention that the company must give them. Candidates want to be considered as people, independently of processes and technologies, and not as well identified skills. Today, we know how to map skills better and we have a better knowledge of technologies: this is positive and it contributes to the professionalisation of recruitment. Nonetheless, we should not go to the extremes of considering candidates’ CVs before taking into account their personalities, their human aspirations and their potential. For example, welcoming candidates by subjecting them to a technical test does not seem to me to be the best approach for enhancing human values and the company’s image.   

How do you want to accompany leaders faced with these new challenges? 

We observe that a distortion is setting in between the reality of the labour market and the beliefs and practices of companies. This disorganises the recruitment process. In order to raise awareness of the new decision-making criteria of candidates, we will survey the main players and conduct an international study, the results of which will be presented in April 2022 at our international meeting in Madrid with all the members of our Lense & Lumen Advisory Group network. With this survey, we hope to help companies to better understand the trends and improve their recruitment processes in line with the new expectations of candidates. We would also like to encourage a long-term approach that prioritises the search for high potentials over the immediate search for exact skills, including in technology and industry.


Our advice:

– Listen to the candidates’ expectations of the company and their future position and opt for an individualised, “à la carte” approach;

– Reduce the lengthy and cumbersome recruitment processes that are unsuited to the current labour market in order to hire the rare profiles that are most in demand;

– Involve more operational staff and HR managers who are more open to new recruitment trends in order to improve their employer image and attract the best candidates.

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