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The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will be upon us in just a matter of months and companies both within the European Union, as well as those outside that do business with EU citizens, are rapidly getting their houses in order to ensure that they are working in a compliant way post May 2018.

jason starr

jason starr

But while many are taking adequate steps to review legacy data and put in measures to ensure they are fully prepared, new research suggests that an alarming number are yet to fully understand the impact GDPR could have on their company. The research by the Institute of Directors reveals that four in ten directors are not aware of how GDPR will affect their business. Consequently, many organisations are at risk of hefty fines in the weeks and months following May 25th, 2018 unless swift action is taken between now and then.

So while the focus for many businesses will be on putting processes in place to ensure compliance, how many talented finance executives within these companies realise that GDPR also has the potential to negatively impact their own careers? Too few it seems, according to new research undertaken by GatedTalent. The survey of over 350 global search firms: Unintended Consequences – Why GDPR could move executive careers into the slow lane around the globe, reveals that there is a significant lack of awareness about how GDPR will impact professionals, and that executives could stand to miss out on crucial career moves if they fail to respond to the changes the legislation brings with it.

Why? Because come May 2018, GDPR will make it much much harder for the executive search sector – which plays a pivotal role in the progression of senior finance professionals – to keep in touch with talent. And while some search firms and in-house recruiters may be hoping to rely on a defence of ‘legitimate interest’ – in other words that their existing databases of talent are necessary to conduct their legitimate business – many others are taking the view that they will need to obtain explicit consent from potential candidates and that any consent obtained in years gone by is unlikely to stand up to the new rules.  As one interviewee who took part in GatedTalent’s research said, “Executives will almost need to re-register in databases to ensure they remain on the radar. Otherwise they might well disappear.”

So what does this all mean for finance professionals both in lead up to GDPR’s implementation and also in the long run? Given that many search firms and in house resourcing teams are erring on the side of caution and taking active steps to gain consent from candidates, executives will likely be on the receiving end of a flurry of consent requests as we approach May 2018.  And professionals would be wise to act upon these to ensure that they are alerted to career opportunities in a post GDPR world.  Failure to do so could mean that some of the doors to roles may start to swing shut, because recruiters simply won’t be able to sustain the level of engagement with talent needed to highlight new opportunities.

In the long run, however, GDPR could offer proactive executives the opportunity to forge much tighter relationships with the executive search sector. This is a sentiment echoed by David Pierce Hallahan of Team Capital, who took part in the research, who believes the legislation could be very positive indeed for professionals and search firms alike: “GDPR could end up delivering a closer, tighter relationship, based on quality and best practice”. It will offer professionals the chance to update search firms with their latest information on current role, seniority and salary aspirations which can only be a good thing if they want to develop their career as effectively as possible.

And the good news for busy executives is that many search firms and resourcing teams are seeking out platforms, such as GatedTalent, that not only manage the consent process, but that also facilitate information sharing through a private network that no one other than a select number of recruiters can see.

Although GDPR does seem to pose a potential threat to executive career development, the steps professionals take now to engage with recruiters and update them on their current circumstances and future plans, will ensure that they stay on the radar of search firms and in-house resourcing teams post May 2018 which can only be a good thing.

Jason Starr is CEO of GatedTalent, the global database of ‘gated talent’, a GDPR compliance enabler for the search sector.

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