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Why is it so important to access the hidden candidate market?

Published: 2 years, 6 months ago

By Brendan Turner


Today, procurement leaders need to have commercial, strategic, technical and leadership prowess to succeed. So as you can imagine, finding the right talent to fill senior procurement roles is a big task.  The Source has a strong track record in filling some of the most senior CPO roles in Australia. Our key clients see the value in partnering with us to identify candidates in the highly sought after hidden market.


However, the standard type of engagement on most procurement roles is the traditional, transactional method of recruitment: where businesses will pit recruitment agencies against each other to see who can find a successful candidate the fastest. This is a low quality type of engagement because it creates a dynamic whereby it’s a race against time for agencies to place a candidate so they are renumerated for their efforts. This process doesn’t allow for the most detailed or thorough process so you cannot be sure you have the best candidate for the job.


On the other hand, businesses who take the ‘slow and steady’ approach towards finding the perfect match, choose to partner exclusively with one agency so that everything from the briefing, market-mapping and assessment is done in a much more in-depth and considered fashion. This arrangement usually operates on a portion of the fees being provided up front and the remainder when a successful candidate is found. This ensures that busy recruiters like myself, will prioritise the assignment and give it full attention.


The executive search process at The Source begins with a deep-dive analysis of the role competencies, the company culture and the capabilities of the team. We do this in a meeting with the organisation to ensure we have a detailed briefing. Placing the microscope on the position and the procurement team allows us to identify the style of leader who will work well and inspire the team, add vision to the company and help grow team capabilities.


The next step is to map the talent market to identify all the key players in the space and draw on our established network to tap into the hidden market. One of the advantages of specialising solely in procurement is that over the years, The Source has developed strong relationships in the procurement space which we are constantly drawing upon.


Candidates then go through our behavioural, personality and competency testing, so we can align the requirements of the role with the candidate’s profile, and provide this detailed reporting in the shortlist for the client. All in all, this process takes on average 4 – 6 weeks, although sometimes it can take up to three months to dislodge the perfect match for a role.


While this style of recruitment is sometimes employed for procurement executive searches, it’s not the case for other mid-level roles in the profession. This is in stark contrast to our colleagues in the finance profession where it’s common for organisations to engage a specialist finance recruiter on an exclusive retainer.


Leading CPO’s have realised that the engagement style with a recruiter drives the quality of service and outcome. Partnering with a premium search firm to conduct a proper executive search and assessment process will ensure that the very best candidate is secured for the role.


For further information about executive recruitment and exclusive retained arrangements, please contact Brendan Turner, Managing Consultant, 03 9650 6665 or at