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Talent scouting

Richard de Jongh

What is the omnipresent criticism of head-hunters? That they always come up with predictable lists. With candidates who have already gained experience in the required position elsewhere. Candidates who switch jobs in order to receive a higher income, not to pursue an innovative career. That form of head-hunting cannot be called talent scouting, it mainly consists of ticking off lists. I think that you are then selling many people short: the candidate, the client and yourself as well. Head-hunting can be so much more ambitious than along those established patterns.

Suppose a farmer in the Netherlands has a specific breed of sheep. When a sheep dies, that farmer goes to the middleman and says, “help me please, my sheep died, I need a new one”. Ninety percent of the middlemen will search for an available sheep of that particular breed and bring it to the farmer and say, “here’s a new sheep, it’s a little bigger than the previous one, maybe a bit smaller, it doesn’t matter, here’s your sheep, good luck”.

Wouldn’t the farmer be better off if the middleman thought out of the box and would suggest sheep from Scotland for instance, which seem to be much more resistant to climate change? And let’s suppose they are. That would help the farmer tremendously. So not selling more of the same, but a breed of sheep that will most likely make him more future-proof. We then hope the farmer is interested. We go to Scotland together, listen to the farmer’s comments and we all become a whole lot wiser. Wouldn’t that be great?

We, at Van Olphen, act at the top-level positions end of the market. Search represents the first step here. We deliver on demand; if a company asks for it, we look for new leadership. It is the head-hunter’s traditional way of working. Talent scouting is the next step. We are always present in the market. We move between the lines, as a partner of leading companies on one side and as scouts of the world’s top talent on the other. It’s a methodology that is incredibly important. We hardly ever present a predictable candidate. By actively networking every day, we know a lot of amazingly interesting people, in the prime of their lives, very diverse, bursting with energy and ambition, ready to take the next step on their way to the top. Having these people in our portfolio, we anticipate a future demand from our clients. That’s talent scouting, that’s adding something essential to the classical search of the traditional head-hunter.

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