Hunting a Headhunter
by Dave Thompson Managing Director of Global Technical Headhunters Hunt...
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HUNTING A HEADHUNTER
Hunting a Headhunter by Dave Thompson Managing Director of Global Technical Headhunters Huntsman Associates.
How developing a strong relationship with a Specialist Headhunter / Search Firm will help fill your vacancies and free your time. One of the most critical decisions all organisations face is finding the right calibre staff. Whether your recruitment is driven through expansion or through an employee leaving, the impact of a bad placement is time-consuming and costly. A wrong decision can cost your organisation up to twice the annual salary for that employee, according to research. A company facing a recruitment situation must plan effectively to ensure minimum disruption. One of the options open to them is using a Headhunting / Search & Selection agency. Most companies will have used a recruitment agency at some point or other and most will have some tale to tell. However a specialist Headhunting firm is a very different animal all together and should not be confused with a recruitment agency.
You should never underestimate the benefit of using a “Specialist Headhunter”, especially if you know how to get the best out of them.
The benefits of using a Specialist Headhunter The first thing to point out is that they are the recruitment experts. The information the Headhunter will have will give you an idea of the current marketplace, ease or difficulty in sourcing your required candidates, their salary expectations, potential recruitment streams and of course their recommendation on route to placement (What they recommend are the best action’s to take to achieve the desired resourcing outcome). They will also be able to advise on estimated timescales, deadlines and of course costs.
Specialist Headhunters have the best industry specific recruitment knowledge – you may only make one hire a year but they do this every day of their lives and understand what candidates are looking for in a new role, how and where to fond the best and the typical type of package/benefits available to them. You don’t want to miss out on the best candidates because you are not offering remuneration in line with others.
How to control the process. The recruitment process can in some cases take anything up to three months and it is important that during this time, potential candidates are kept informed so that they don’t lose interest or indeed take another job. It is in the Headhunters interest to keep in touch with you and it is in your interest to keep both the consultant and the candidates informed. Industry specific Headhunters operate in your specialist field and you should use this experience. If your expectations are not realistic, a good headhunter should be able to direct you or offer you alternative solutions.
They should also be able to identify good candidates beyond the CV/Resume. The best candidates don’t always have the best CV’s/Resume’s and vice versa. A shortlist for interview should never be decided based purely on a CV/Resume. A good Headhunter will interview all candidates and assess not only technical ability, but also drive, enthusiasm and ambition – the traits that really get someone the job. In most cases additional technical ability can be taught, personality can’t.
Most high street recruitment agencies charge between 10 to 20 % of the starting salary as a fee. A specialist Headhunter would typically charge upward of 20% and depending on the method agreed will require a 3 stage payment (With an initial 3rd upon acceptance of the assignment followed by a 3rd upon submission of shortlisted candidates and the final 3rd only payable upon offer of employment). It may sound a lot, but for your money you get a bespoke service, higher fill percentages, lower employee loss, access to the very best candidates (many of whom are not in the market and would not respond to job adverts, so would not be accessible) and very important a target driven action plan which is agreed up front. Remember, you are paying for the Headhunters ability to find you the very best candidate, in may cases it has taken years of hard work for your Headhunter to have the right industry knowledge, contacts, database, referral network, company employee map, negotiation skills, people skills, candidate appraisal ability and reputation to source the right candidate for your organisation. Great CV’s/Resume’s don’t just appear they are sourced and hunted down over time.
Why you should choose an agency carefully. A reputable Headhunter should be keen to discuss their skills, be open with their fees, take a full briefing on the position and get a feel for your organisation. Take this opportunity to ask them what they know about your company, what other companies they have recently recruited for (Although do not be upset if their clients are kept confidential) and at what level they specialise. You can perceive a lot by the questions the Headhunter asks and how they answer your questions. They should be interested in your company as a whole, what your background is and the team environment. They should also be asking about the career progression opportunities for the successful individual. Use this discussion to review who your using to represent your company – a good Headhunter will mirror your style, professionalism and company ethos when representing your vacancy and organisation to prospective candidates.
They should be specialists in their field. General ‘high street’ recruitment agencies may have lower fees but if the position is business critical (don’t forget your reputation may be judged on this new employee), it may be a false economy. Typically, these agencies don’t have access to the best candidates and few of their candidates are registered exclusively with them. Specialist Headhunters make a point of pro-actively searching for candidates with sought after skills by networking in the industry and establishing key contacts.
How to get the best service.. If you want to get the best service from your Headhunter, agree to work with them exclusively for a specified period of time. By agreeing exclusivity, the Headhunter will be able to take time to select the best candidates for you, without having to worry about competing against another agency to get them across to you first. Also by working exclusively you are not flooding the market with your company name which is sometimes counter active giving candidates the impression that this role is not exclusive enough for them and that there will be thousands applying so why bother. Also by going exclusive you can be sure that your position will be given special attention as the Headhunter will know that you are relying on them. Indeed many Headhunters will only work exclusively.
Some questions to ask. • What makes your Headhunting firm a specialist in its field? • Can you supply references for your company? • How do you source your candidates? • Have you met with every candidate your putting forward? • If required can every candidate be specifically re-interviewed against the criteria for this role? • Who will be working on sourcing for this role and what is their background?
You will have I am sure experienced speaking to one consultant one week only to find your speaking to someone else next week – it sounds obvious but when choosing your recruiter try to find a Headhunting company who have experienced long term staff and can prove it. It’s also a good idea to plan the recruitment process together and in advance. This should include setting dates for first and second interviews at the outset, along with other details such as the names of everyone who will be involved, as well as how many candidates you want to consider at each stage, whether any testing will be involved and so on. The best way to do this is to work out when you want the person on board and work backwards, taking into account the likelihood of the successful candidate having to work a notice period.
You should also ask the Headhunter to talk you through every candidate, giving reasons why they have been selected and shortlisted for you. These reasons should include softer skills and career aspirations.
The aim of all Headhunters is to achieve accepted job offers. Remember, without achieving this they will not build up repeat business, a positive reputation or recognition in their field. By selecting the appropriate Headhunter and by establishing expectations in advance, you should be able to maintain a productive and mutually beneficial relationship.
If you have any questions on the Headhunting process from a Specialists point of view or you wish to discuss your own vacancy or career objectives please do not hesitate to contact me. David Thompson on +44 (0) 8702 40 39 10 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Profile: David Thompson has over 16 years International Technical Headhunting and Resourcing experience. A qualified professional and former Regional Chairman of the REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) for 3 years, David is one of the most experienced recruiters in the UK and combines traditional recruitment with headhunting and his own Thompson Methodology to source the best individuals. Utilising his skills and industry knowledge he has achieved an enviable reputation for producing results.