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Executive Search Firms See Potential For A.I. To Help Set Search Strategy

Thaddeus Andres - June 20, 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Generative AI (ChatGPT) and Automation over the past year have evolved at a rapid pace. To gain a deeper understanding and the future evolution of AI’s role in the executive search process, Clockwork surveyed 179 executive search firms across the globe over a 6 week period at the end of 2023. The purpose of the survey was to identify key areas of opportunity for AI to support the search process, and gather insights around market demand for future growth for AI. This is an excerpt below on A.I.'s impact on setting the search strategy during the executive search process.

31.6% of Search Firms believe AI and automation will not likely have an impact on Stage 3 (Strategy).

As we see later in the survey, when presented with the idea of AI and automation impacting or disrupting the human-centric stages of the search process, such as Stage 3 (Strategy) and Stage 7 (Decision), a substantial group of search firms initially oppose this concept and feel AI will have no significant impact. However, when presented with more specific applications and uses of AI, the majority of search firms shift their attitude.

In Stage 3 (Strategy) there is opportunity and strong demand for AI and automation to support laying the foundational groundwork by generating target company lists, job specifications, and benchmark profiles. With 37.1% of search firms reportedly already using generative AI in their search process, and 84.8% of this subset using generative AI to produce job descriptions, clearly AI’s next area of growth is within Stage 3 (Strategy). With AI already supporting 1 in 3 search firms in Stage 3 (Strategy) with setting the search strategy, over half of search firms (54.4%) are very interested in AI automatically suggesting benchmark candidate profiles as a natural next step. This trend indicates that AI will move from a more passive supporting role (generating job descriptions) in Stage 3 (Strategy) and begin to take on more of a predictive capacity to aid in the next step in the search process, Stage 4 (Research).

Search Firms Are Looking For AI To Build Out Core-Competencies and Generate Research Benchmark Criteria.

Competency-based characteristics, skills and criteria are some of the key elements that make each search unique. Different cultures and companies command different leadership styles and archetypes and this is where the consultative and collaborative nature of a search begins to take shape between client and search consultant.

When it comes to setting core-competency traits for the benchmark candidate, there is a lot of curiosity around how AI can support this even though these conversations are more fluid and subjective depending on the search and the client’s needs. Having completed many similar searches in the past, generating or suggesting research criteria based upon a search firm’s specialization and past work, is another area in which search firms are very interested in AI pursuing (48.5% were very interested). This indicates that search firms are slowly becoming more open and accepting of AI moving from a task-based tool into creating deeper value as an extension of their bespoke process and team.

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Thaddeus Andres

Thaddeus Andres

With nearly 13 years of experience within executive search and recruitment, Thaddeus has held several marketing roles at various industry associations, networks and companies where he was responsible for implementing, leading and driving key marketing strategies and initiatives.

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