Headhunter Insider Tips on Keeping Your Spear Sharp

Headhunter Tips

It’s no secret many are confused when they hear the term headhunter, images of bone-in-hair-painted-faces charge top of mind. Executive search may carry a tamer vision, but they are in fact one and the same. It’s all about the fine art of targeting, tracking and bringing home that exceptional trophy hire.

The WHAT of Headhunting
Let’s start with a simple definition of recruiting – sourcing and screening a flow of active job seekers in order to get to best ‘available’ candidate. While the two share a lot of similar activities, executive search or headhunting is vastly different; it’s about directly, proactively, sourcing candidates.

Recruiting involves running ads and sifting through resumes to find the best candidate who is ‘looking’, and involves essential high level human resources skills, yet the candidates this function produces, although many are first rate, seldom represent “best of the best” in potential new employees who, when given the right approach, can be available. Again, given the right approach.

Enter headhunting, the fine art of tapping into the hidden but highly valued passive candidate marketplace. While advertising may also be utilized, a well run executive search campaign starts with first mapping out competitors and other companies who are potential sources of quality candidates. This is immediately followed by picking up the phone, discreetly cold-calling and entering into a meaningful dialogue with each of those top level candidates.

The WHY of Headhunting
Cost vs value is always the best way to address why it’s important to use a headhunter. Mapping out the competitive playing field and gaining access to hidden passive candidates takes time, money, and resources. But more importantly a skill not readily found with in-house or agency recruiters.

Scary as it may seem at first, executive search can easily cost what one internal recruiter makes in three months salary. So be sure there is right value in determining how important it is for you to find the best candidates in the market, not just on the market.  And don’t forget the other goldmine you’ll be tapping into, all that valuable competitor information you’ll be gleaning from professional search results.

When your headhunter presents you with candidates from your competitors you are being presented with the proverbial golden platter of new business, a unique opportunity to explore marketplace intelligence, gain industry insights and contacts that could lead you to yet further opportunities to build and grow your company.

The DIFFERENCE Headhunting Makes
A headhunter starts by mapping out the top competitors and cold-calling everyone who may have a relevant skillset. In-house recruiters will rely on employee referrals, job boards and career fairs.

Headhunting focuses purely on targeting top talent in the market, active or otherwise, not generally available through traditional recruiting methods and is a service generally reserved for more senior or niche roles. Another difference is volume. A recruiter may work on as many as 100 vacancies per year, while an effective headhunter will selectively work on at most 20 searches per year. This of course fluctuates on the degree of difficulty of each search, whether candidates can be locally sourced or require international resources and scope, as well as the availability of support personnel to assist in the sourcing processes.

Whatever job you do, we bet you are very good at it. Headhunting and recruiting skills are a full-time occupation. When you are ready to save on the cost of bad hires, add an amazing new talent to your team, contact Barbara at Ashton & Associates.

Barbara Ashton heads up Ashton & Associates and works with businesses to hire exceptional talent.An enthusiastic champion of sustainable leadership, and with close to three decades in business and hiring know-how, Barbara brings refreshing insight and perspective to her search work with leading employers throughout the BC Interior and Western Canada.

This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.

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