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AI in executive search: Enhancing efficiency, speed and transparency

Natàlia Segura | 6. februar 2024

The integration of artificial intelligence in executive search is significantly transforming senior management talent acquisition processes. Unlike in the past, when professional social networks and public executive information were scarce, AI now simplifies the identification, search and contact processes. This advancement aids in minimizing human bias during the initial screening phases by automating the management of extensive information and pre-selecting the most suitable candidates.

Mathias Friedrichs
Managing Director, Kestria Germany

'AI is very helpful in taking over or supporting routine tasks in Executive Search. This gives the consultants more space to actually consult clients and candidates and to engage in extensive communication with candidates. In a candidate market with a shortage of talent this communication is key to eventually winning talent for the clients,‘ says Mathias Friedrichs, Managing Director, Kestria Germany.

Specific areas improved by AI in executive search

AI has notably enhanced several aspects of professional work, including:

1. Creation of Job Descriptions and CVs: Streamlining the writing process and highlighting key professional milestones and achievements.

2. Resume Filtering and Screening: Analyzing vast data sets quickly and efficiently, thereby reducing human biases in early-stage candidate evaluations.

3. Automation of Routine Tasks: Handling administrative and support activities more effectively.

The adoption of AI in the search and selection processes within the executive search industry has led to enhanced effectiveness. This integration enables the utilization of industry expertise, experience, and human managerial insights in the most impactful areas, benefiting both clients and candidates throughout the talent acquisition process.

Rohan Carr
Director, Kestria Australia

'While the application of AI within the search industry is still in its early days, the opportunities are significant. Of course at the end the day the one on one human interface with clients and candidates can never be replaced, but AI can enhance it, and make the consulting process more efficiency and effective,‘ adds Rohan Carr, Director, Kestria Australia.

Selected AI tools

In a general perspective, the use of AI tools in the executive search industry is characterized by:

  • Facilitating swift analysis of data and initial stages of candidate screening.
  • Aiding in aligning candidate profiles with specific job functions and the defined roles and responsibilities set by clients.
  • Streamlining the integration of data and processes, which allows for a more focused assessment of key competencies and cultural fit within various organizational environments.

Shaping decision-making and future practices

AI's involvement in decision-making offers objective data, enhancing operational processes and learning continuously, yet it does not supplant the nuanced judgment of executive recruiters. Looking ahead, AI won't replace the core functions of headhunting. Rather, it redirects the focus to a deeper comprehension of client needs and the suitability of candidates within corporate structures. The real value in executive search lies in sector-specific knowledge, understanding of global practices, and cultural alignment, all vital for effective talent acquisition.

According to Celine Chabee, Partner, Kestria Canada & USA: 'In each area of expertise we cover, we are witnessing that AI remains a means, not an end. In Life Science, for example, it offers incredible acceleration:

Research and Discovery: target identification, disease mechanism, drug candidate identification, and selection.

Clinical development & distribution: Trial design, site selection & recruitment, predictive tox, manufacturing, and supply chain optimization

Commercialization: HCP engagement, decision support, price-value optimization

Patient engagement & support: Improved payer-patient-provider interaction, treatment adherence and compliance, healthcare democratization'

Celine Chabee
Partner, Kestria Canada & USA

'In all our innovative sectors, we must keep up with the same pace and leverage automated tools powered by AI to refine our understanding of the market and the transformative evolution of our executives' professions. Like the outstanding leaders we partner with, we must sharpen the use of free will and critical thinking to avoid blind spots that blind reliance on technology would induce, to remain essential human catalyst links in executives' career development and valuable connections that we nurture every day,‘ adds Celine Chabee, Partner, Kestria Canada & USA.

Evolving role of talent acquisition

The evolving role in talent acquisition now encompasses guiding senior management in the design of roles and composition of executive teams. This evolution is marked by a broad range of experiences spanning various sectors and countries, contributing valuable insights to clients (Kestria is present in 40+ countries). The skills required for consultants in this field include:

  1. Assessing cultural and value alignment between candidates and companies.
  2. Creating positive experiences for both candidates and companies.
  3. Engaging candidates and integrating their career paths into the project.
  4. Advising both candidates and clients during the process.
  5. Negotiating offers.

Reflecting on AI's integration

The incorporation of AI has revolutionized daily work, focusing on added value for customers, minimizing time spent on less valuable functions and enhancing decision-making in identifying managerial talent. Clients can monitor process developments in real-time via our AI platforms, ensuring flexibility, adaptability and transparency.

The implementation of AI necessitates training the teams to work effectively in this new environment, understanding new search possibilities, data interpretation effectiveness and redistributing functions to maximize value contribution.

Article by Natalia Segura, Managing Partner, Kestria Spain.

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