Executive Search

Underwood Executive becomes only South Australian member of exclusive global executive search body AESC

By | Executive Search, Leadership

Underwood Executive has just been accepted into the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) – a global industry profession that sets the highest quality standards in executive search and leadership consulting worldwide. There are currently no other recruitment firms in Adelaide who have been accredited by the AESC.

To be included amongst these elite members is a significant achievement for Underwood Executive, who commenced operations in 2011. Only a small percentage of firms that apply to the AESC meet the rigorous requirements of AESC membership. Membership is selective and conducted by a global team to ensure due diligence standards are met. This included Underwood Executive sharing their unique methodology, various research and reporting techniques as well as undergoing an extensive evaluation of their processes, including client references and ethical standards.

As the only firm in South Australia qualified as an AESC member, it further reinforces Underwood Executive’s commitment to providing the highest quality standards in executive search right here in Adelaide.

Patrick Rooney, Managing Director at the AESC for APAC & Middle East said “when you choose a search firm who is a member of the AESC, you know you are getting a seal of quality. Underwood have joined an elite group of professionals who share best practice and knowledge in the industry, which helps guide the ethics and standards across the globe”

Nicole Underwood, Founder and Managing Director said “attracting global talent to Adelaide and selling the value to those wanting to return home is a real advantage when our search practice is based here. We know the selling points of the Adelaide lifestyle, the top employers and what executive opportunities exist here”. Underwood is certainly challenging the status quo and setting the standard in doing things differently.

She continued, “we are thrilled to be part of this global profession that shares best practice, knowledge and networks. It reinforces our commitment to providing the highest quality standards in executive search here in Adelaide, as the only South Australian firm with AESC membership. I am looking forward to the conference in New York in 2020 to meet with like-minded business owners and search consultants”

Underwood Executive has also recently won “Executive Recruiter of the Year” 2019 with Human Resources Director Magazine (HRD) this year, as well as being named as one of LinkedIn’s Most Socially Engaged Firms. Both accolades were in competition with Australia’s biggest recruitment firms and again, Underwood was the only South Australian winner.

The AESC has over 16,000 members ranging in size from large global firms to boutique firms, spanning over 70 countries. Members place more than 100,000 executives each year in board and C-level positions for the world’s leading organisations of all types and sizes.

Underwood Executive is an exclusive executive search and talent management consultancy based in Adelaide specialising in sourcing C-suite, leadership and hard to fill positions.

Press Release | Underwood Executive Becomes AESC Member | Dec 2019

20191205 AESC Welcomes Underwood Executive into Membership

Underwood Executive Named In ANZ’s Most Socially Engaged Search Firms in Australia/NZ 2018 by LinkedIn

By | Executive Search, Innovation

Last week, our team travelled to Sydney to be part of LinkedIn’s Most Socially Engaged Staff Agencies awards to celebrate the best in social recruiting.

The 2018 Most Socially Engaged Staffing Agencies list is based on an extensive analysis of the interactions between over 2,800 firms and 580+ million members on LinkedIn over the past year. What sets the winners apart was their ability to engage LinkedIn members through compelling company and employee activity.

Out of the top 25, Underwood Executive ranked 7th up seven places from ranking 14th in 2017. We were also the only South Australian firm listed in the awards.

This is a wonderful achievement for us and we are very excited that our talent community is engaging with our content that is authentic and relevant.

The award criteria includes:

  • Content performance: How members engage (like, share, comment, follow, click) with company content (company updates, sponsored updates, influencer, and employee posts and employee shares)
  • Social reach and engagement: How members engage with posted jobs, the number of followers, and visitors to the Company and Careers Pages
  • Social recruiting: How effective recruitment consultants are at establishing their professional brand through profile completeness and sharing rich content, finding, and engaging with the right people and building meaningful networks

Here’s what our Founder Nicole Underwood said when asked “What does it mean to be recognised in LinkedIn ANZ’s Most socially Engaged?” 

You can read more about the awards and category winners here.


How to make a persuasive job offer

By | Executive Search

Sourcing and securing high performing talent, those A-class players who are almost always employed, are rarely actively applying for jobs via job boards. Identifying them is a skill that takes time and research. Enticing them takes knowledge, expertise and effort. Selling your opportunity takes persuasion, knack and competence. Coaching them on career development, advantages and pros and cons of moving roles, takes patience, empathy and understanding. So, to get through all of this and then make a job offer it has to be compelling. It has to make the person feel valued and most of all it has to make them feel delighted to be joining you!

Time and time again, we see organisations go through an executive search process, which involves a significant investment of time, energy and emotional involvement by all parties, to then deliver a less than compelling job offer. Why? Why after all of this, would you try and save a few bucks and risk diluting the candidate’s excitement and ultimately question their worth?

Last year, we had an example of finding a candidate for a hard to fill role, a needle in a haystack. She had recently turned down another role and when asked why she declined, it wasn’t because they weren’t a great company, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to work with the leader, it wasn’t the location, the offices or the long-term career options, it came down to a luke-warm offer of employment. After all the wooing and “wining and dining”, the organisation decided to just match the candidate’s current salary. They said they would review the salary again at six months with a potential review. This offer made it seem that the client was unsure of their decision and were even second-guessing their choice, demanding the candidate prove themselves first and then they would be rewarded. It left the candidate feeling perplexed, deflated and ultimately, undervalued. She declined.

Here’s 7 tips so you don’t get caught making the same mistake:

1 – Make a confident and concise decision – have a vigorous search and recruitment process so you don’t second guess or hope your decision is right. This will make you feel confident and trust your judgement that this person is the right person for your vacancy.

2 – Trial close – in our business, we never make the real job offer before asking the candidate hypothetically if they were offered, would they accept? This question allows for pause, hesitation and the opportunity to discuss and flush out any concerns the candidate may have before making a formal offer. This technique puts you in a position of strength an avoids negotiating after making an offer.

3 – Make your best offer upfront – don’t play games, what is your best and final offer? The most important factor in accepting a new job is compensation (49%), professional development (33%) and work/life flexibly (29%). Present all the benefits including statutory, incentives, non-monetary benefits and those factors most important to the candidate you have determined during the recruitment process.

4 – Put it in writing immediately – don’t delay. We recommend always presenting a formal written contract within 24 hours of making a verbal offer. If you haven’t heard back from them quickly, don’t wait! They might have questions, or you might be at risk of a counter offer.

5 – Welcome – once you have received a signed copy, ring them and welcome them to the firm. Yes, you have secured them and now the deal is done you are probably on to your next task or project until they start, but don’t forget this important human element to maintain engagement.

6 – Pre-start catch up – depending on their notice period and how long you have to wait before they start, it is a good idea to stay connected until day one. We recommend a casual coffee catch up, an office tour or an introduction to other team members to get people inducted early and to maintain your recruitment momentum.

7 – Day 1 – blow their socks off – have the basics ready! Someone to greet them day one, business cards printed, technology set up, email announcement etc. Last week, we heard of someone starting a new role and the boss was still on holidays and had forgotten they were starting, no one was expecting them! What can you do beyond the basics? A morning tea, a welcome gift, assign them an internal mentor, a meeting with the CEO….the options are endless to make them feel valued.

Make a compelling job offer first time, every time. Delight the candidate.  Make them feel special and worthy. If you can’t, maybe the question should be ‘is this the right candidate’ after all?


Recruiting an Executive? Don’t make this mistake

By | Executive Search, Recruitment

Are you about to recruit your next Executive? Don’t make this mistake when outsourcing to an external Consultant or Recruiter. There are a number of key factors to ensure the role is filled with the best candidate from the market. How will you trust that your Consultant will find that needle in the haystack and the very best person available for your vacancy?

There are a number of key factors that clients should consider such as:

  • Reputation / brand
  • Track record / expertise
  • Cost
  • Consultant relationship
  • Methodology / offering
  • Value-added services

What sets Consultants apart is not the shiny brand or website, not the long list of placements, or the most competitive bid. The real difference is the Consultant’s ability to manage, negotiate and consult through what is a very emotional, intuitive and onerous process. A Consultant’s ability to read people, situations and solutions is paramount. This becomes even more crucial when conducting executive search. Your Consultant needs to know when to push you and your board to move faster, to make a decision, to challenge your thinking, question your assumptions and ensure you have your eyes wide open to all the positives, as well as development areas or concerns.

On the candidate side, the consultant has the responsibility to build a relationship, get inside their head, know what makes them tick, know when they are holding back, know when to put pressure on, when to take pressure off and ultimately how to manoeuvre the candidate through what can become a competitive bid process.

This was the case I heard this week.  A friend of mine was going through two different recruitment processes for two different roles. They were neck and neck in terms of his level of interest and in terms of where they were both at in the process – both second interview with each respective panel. He was equally interested. He was equally committed. What got him over the line? The relationship with his Consultant and their ability to move fast and to run a true executive process, rather than a transaction-based recruitment process. There were phone calls, consultation, probing questions, availability and check ins over the weekend (both Saturday and Sunday), which resulted him taking that job at 9am on the Monday.

The other firm was rushing at the final hour with final reference checks and testing, then knocking off at 5pm Friday and said “talk to you again on Monday”.  While they were enjoying their weekend, the other Executive Consultant was doing the deal – keeping the board and their candidate informed to enable them to have a signed contract on Monday morning.

There is a difference between executive search and contingent or main-stream traditional recruitment. It doesn’t only lie in the fees (which may seem an attractive proposition when comparing proposals), it lies in the firm’s ability to run an executive search process that goes far beyond ‘filling a job’.

In the highly skilled area of executive search, you don’t often see what goes beyond the fine print of the proposal: it’s the nuts and bolts, it’s the people skills, it’s a Consultant’s ability to earn trust and go beyond the shiny, slick proposal with pages of placement history, to embody warmth, trust and competence to negotiate the finer points that will ultimately result in a win for all parties involved.

How will you choose your next Consultant?