The agility to change your focus is a key trait of successful individuals and companies. For an executive search firm with a tried-and-tested process, this is certainly the case.

When your search methodology is sound, it is surprisingly easy to move into a new market sector. Given the more fluid nature of executive careers and the impact of the gig economy, having this broader reach can often bring significant benefits. There is still an argument for narrow sector specialisation in some cases, but actually, a hiring company just wants one thing from their recruiter:

They want the best possible (available) candidate for the role.

Now, I won’t bore you with all the constituent parts of a great recruitment process, but much of the information for a successful assignment comes from the initial brief.

If you don’t ask the right questions, no amount of sector specific knowledge will help you.

Main Board has recently diversified into new areas – both in terms of sectors and the seniority of our hires. We have previously focused exclusively on the C-Suite, but after a number of specific retained roles from long-term clients, we have understood that our ability to recruit at “Heads of” level is no less effective.

A properly organised search will work for a CEO or a Marketing Director. If it is a critical hire, only a rigorous search process will unearth the right calibre of people. A Supply Chain Manager running a £60m change programme can work wonders for a company’s bottom line – why wouldn’t you want to look for them properly?

What I would like to say is that being more of a “generalist” doesn’t make you a lesser search consultant. Equally, calling yourself, a specialist doesn’t automatically make you the best. It is all about the process, how you understand the needs of your client, and how you analyse the market to find the most suitable candidates.

Lastly, working in the same narrow sector would leave some of the challenges off the table. For me, taking on a new assignment is always about starting with a blank sheet of paper. When you work with a specialist, you run the risk of coming up against deeply held assumptions, and you probably won’t get quite the sweep of the market that you intend. Coupled with the fact that they will likely have some “off limits” clauses, there is a danger of you not touching every corner of the market at all.

I’m not ashamed to call myself a generalist. I have a process. I know that it works, and I would be very happy to discuss it with any client who has an interest.

You can view my personal profile or contact me on 0772 5797140 or via email.