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Ready for a step up in your career?

As our loyal members may remember, we launched a salary survey in late 2021. Since then, an idea about providing more guidance on the career development topics was ripening within our media committee. What do recruiters look for?

IIA Media committee welcomes our readers in 2023, and hope that you are full of energy to conquer new heights, either in your current role or even taking a step up.

We in IIA Norway always cheer for professional development, and ready to support!

As our loyal members may remember, we launched a salary survey in late 2021. Since then, an idea about providing more guidance on the career development topics was ripening within our media committee. In December 2022 we were lucky enough to get an interview with a reputable executive search company, Visindi, and their Senior Advisor Gro Krigsvoll.

  • Gro, how do look for relevant candidates?

When we do recruitments in Visindi, we always make a thorough assessment of the possibilities and challenges the company is facing. We believe it is impossible to judge an executive without context. A candidate must always be assessed in the context of values, framework, and strategies. That is the core of our approach. Our main goal is to find the match between what the company is looking for – competencies, experience, personality, leadership style – and the right candidate.

  • I assume that you get the context from the company side, when receiving a new request…

We mainly focus on executive search and recruitment for top management positions and boards. A successful recruitment process requires a lot of work at the beginning of the process to get a clear picture of the context and the preferred candidate. To get that deep understanding, we conduct several interviews with key stakeholders, usually within the company and the board.

  • How do you get the information about the context from the potential candidate before the interview rounds?

We usually get in touch with candidates either through search or applications. In addition, we have an extensive database and approximately 17 000 followers on LinkedIn. To get a first understanding of candidates, LinkedIn profiles and CVs are key. Applications are of course also important and usually give additional information when it comes to motivation and relevant experience. So for those candidates looking for a job change, it is important to have an updated CV and LinkedIn profile where it is easy to understand what competencies and experiences you have had.

  • If we narrow down to Internal Audit and leadership position, what experiences and competences are required?

To be successful within Internal Audit, my experience is that you need to be structured, able to deliver on time with high quality and communicate in clear way. Having worked cross functionally, led projects or parts of projects in addition to stakeholder management would also be relevant experiences. However, this needs to be assessed in the context of the company that is hiring to make sure that their expectations and requirements are being met.

How do you get from there to a leadership position?

Typically, in order to make a step change from project lead to a leadership position, you need to showcase that you enjoy taking on responsibility and that you have been successful in doing that – both in terms of people management and deliveries. As headhunters, we are looking for traces showing whether a candidate is ready to develop into a leadership position or not.

  • Any other hard skills or educational criteria that are required to get a leadership position within internal audit?

It is difficult to point out specific requirements, however, we see that questions related to compliance and risk are more and more important across companies and industries. One structural barrier to leadership positions within Internal Audit is that usually the internal audit teams are lean. Maybe the increased focus on compliance and risk will open up for more roles in the future.

  • Yes, Internal Audit departments are often very lean, and it is difficult to get personnel responsibility in the first place. At the same time, if you want a leadership position, it is often required to have had such experience. How can you prove that you can do it?

That is a good question! It can come through well-managed projects. Leading a project or parts of a bigger project requires leaderships skills and can serve as proof that you are ready to take on more responsibility. When you get the chance to step into a leadership position, make sure you have people supporting you. I believe in mentorship and coaching; that could be really helpful and reduce the risk both for the candidate and the company. It can be a person located in another team or market, or a person outside the organization.

  • Would you rather recommend internal or external mentoring?

I would recommend both. You can have different mentors at different stages in your career.

  • What about the age of the candidates, any trends there?

We always challenge ourselves and our clients to consider candidates – beyond age. We will live longer, and more senior candidate would like to and needs to be part of the work force. We as headhunters play an important role in addressing and facilitating this change.

  • This is talked a lot about, but is it done in practice?

Yes, but the change will take time and we need to be very conscious across the society.

  • What about gender?

Gender is also top of mind and has been for a while. In Visindi, almost 50% of all our recruitments for top positions are women.

  • What about ethnicity and nationality?

In each recruitment we do, we aim to have candidates that provide a diversity both in ethnicity, nationality, and gender.

  • What is your experience from the recent recruitment cases: we know there is focus on diversity, but are they only selected in the initial round and not really coming through?

Diversity is high on the agenda – both for us and for our clients – throughout the process. We work on the basis of values and prize social commitment, far-sightedness, and diversity.

  • What about titles? Are there any trends?

It differs from company to company. Our advice to companies is to use titles that candidates easily can decode to understand if their experience is relevant or not.

  • What about salary levels in private versus public sector? Is a general assumption that it is lower in the public sector correct, or is it a myth?

In general, the salary levels in private sector are somewhat higher. However, having worked across both sectors, my impression is that the gap is not always that big. In Visindi we believe in the value of leaders moving between private and public sector. We have worked with UiO on this topic, and the insight from a study based on interviews with several leaders who have moved across private and public sector shows that characteristics such as the role´s content and social mission can be as important as the salary level.

  • Do headhunters check social media profiles?

Yes, we do background checks – also including open social media channels.

  • What other checks do you do?

We do credit checks.

  • How do you work with references?

We truly believe in using references. We aim to get a 360 view of the candidate, so typically we will reach out to a peer, a manager and someone who has reported into the candidate. This is agreed with the candidate before we approach the references.

  • If you would summarize, what are your key tips for the candidates?

Be clear on your competencies and experiences, your drive and motivation and how you want to develop further. Have the courage to be yourself into the process – it is all about finding the right match for both the candidate and the company.