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Jason Gault, Sally Bennett & Suzi de Villiers

Finding senior leaders for your organization is not easy.

When TeamJobs set up its own Executive Search division – specialising in recruiting senior leaders it appointed a widely experienced businesswoman, Sally Bennett, to lead it.

“It is the one time a company really thinks hard about the image of their business and who is representing them.  There might be certain people they want, or that they want to entice away from their competition. So this is the most important time.

“We have made a bold move into the market by creating a purely executive search division. A lot of other organisations do it as an add-on, whereas we are striving to be number one in the south."

Sally reflects back on her career especially as National Account Director with Marriott Hotels, looking after the company's top seven customers in the UK.

"I learnt very early in my career about strategic relationships and understanding the bigger picture and then breaking it down and really understanding the customer and meeting their needs," she says.

Sally went on to be Head of Recruitment at Farrow & Ball and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Her business experience, she says, enables her to understand the position her clients are in.

"I demonstrate understanding and empathy which I know is appreciated.  I can offer advice on other people related subjects (and get passionate) about other areas as well as recruitment, which forges relationships."

The key, Sally says is to add value to a client's business.

“I am passionate about diversity and inclusion, for example, I am seeing some great work out there so I am bringing businesses together to share best practice”


How To Find The Right Executive Candidate

A lot of work goes into screening candidates before any of them appear in front of an employer.

"We have a network that we build connections with a lot of people but every job is new and everyone's a new approach," says Sally.

"We do not assume that we have found the right person.

"In executive search, the first thing you do is map out the potential in the marketplace across the UK before you start drilling down to your shortlist. So if you get a brief for Head of Product Management, in a particular industry with a particular expertise, the first thing we will do is recognise what that pool is and from that big pool we will then start drilling down and begin having conversations.

"With conversations that are productive and where we can see that it's right, we will then present the opportunity and if the candidate expresses an interest we will interview face to face.  Only then we will finalise the shortlist.    We may have interviewed three, four or five times the number of people we have got on the shortlist, it is important that we can inform our client that they are interviewing the best available talent at that time. 


Advice For Executive Job-Hunters

The key for a candidate, Sally says is to know where you are going and what you can offer an employer.

"The people I love working with are the people that know where they are going within their career" she stated.

“It is very difficult to help a candidate when they don't know where they are going.  For them, it is understanding their own proposition and their own brand. What does that look like? What is it they can offer another business? And how do they communicate that?"

A strong LinkedIn profile, with a concise personal statement at the beginning, is highly recommended.

For both this profile and a CV, it is important for a candidate to focus on their areas of expertise – and back up their claims with facts.

Rather than say you are a strong leader, talk about the team and the achievements under your leadership.

“It is about being focused. Successful senior leaders up to board level have a vision for their own futures, that is why they are in those positions" says Sally.

"What they appreciate is actually a personal conversation. 'Why have you approached me? Why are you speaking to me?' And my conversation will always involve 'This is why I'm calling, because I see synergies in your profile that interest my client’

"Senior candidates are very open to being approached. They do get frustrated when it is completely wrong. You have got to be incredibly respectful in that marketplace but I have never had anybody not want to stay in touch. We are very professional about our approach. Our motto is the candidate is king, our client is our partner"


The Future Of Executive Search (What Sally Enjoys Most About It)

Expert consultants in Executive search will be in ever greater demand, Sally believes.

"I think specialist area will develop. We will always have challenges in recruitment." she says.

Sally highlights that the most enjoyable part of providing that expertise is helping people tap into their strengths.

"I have a genuine interest in people and their success. I enjoy highlighting to them how successful they could be, because they don't realise sometimes.

"I enjoy the fact that I believe we are the best in the south and that is what we strive to be. Nobody is embracing this niche and I intend to – and I am loving that."


If you would like to pick up the conversation with Sally and the Executive team contact 01202 037999 or email

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