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A short guide regarding difference between headhunting and recruiting

I would like today introduce some differences in what is common defined headhunting vs recruiting. The reason is pretty simple. Surfing on LinkedIn I noted many (too many) junior people that describe themselves ‘headhunter’….but eventually, they just finished study and jumped into the HR environment 6 months ago....

With all respect for young talented people, I regret to inform you are not credible when you describe yourself as headhunter. Sorry for saying that, so please do not get upset while reading it, try to understand.

First of all, I would like to clarify 3 points:

1)    On social network, and LinkedIn is one of them, surely more professional than Facebook (at least should be) you can be whatever you want. It’s pretty easy. Nobody will denounce a crime if you will set up your profile either headhunter or Superman if you wish so.

2)    Headhunting is not just a recruiting!!! I will explain later on.

3)    Headhunter is not a profession that you can get with a degree or training course. Is a process that need time: time to became a seasoned expert, having robust sector’ competencies, ability to interface with senior professionals and C-levels (candidates & clients), ability to sales, curiosity to dig the sector and of course. Network, that is not made only on numbers of LinkedIn contacts you have (I am sorry to be so direct but this is a matter of fact) last but not least: your credibility and reference. To gain it is need time, lot of time into the business.

Here what Mr. Liam Mooney said about such difference: "There seems to be a common misconception about what a “headhunter” or an “executive search agent” actually is. Put simply, Executive Search (also known as Headhunting) is a method used to find the most suitable professional for a specific role whether they are openly looking for a new challenge or not. And that final part of the sentence is the main difference between 'recruitment consultants' and executive search agents. When a company has a vacancy that they need to fill, they normally task a recruitment company with finding a suitable individual to take up the challenge.

More often than not the person who gets the role will be an 'active' jobseeker. Someone who is actively applying to roles, contacting recruitment companies or posting their CV onto job boards. With that approach clients are missing out on large numbers of suitable candidates.

Executive Search professionals take a different approach to their task, in that they look for the best individual for the role and approach them directly, rather than waiting for them to approach the recruiter. It is very common for the most suitable individual to already have a role, so it's a case of finding them. As such executive search agents target the “grey area” of the market: you can eventually call them ‘passive candidates’ people who are not actively looking for jobs but when presented with an opportunity may move. They are a great pool of candidates.

The other major difference with Executive Search recruitment is the way the consultancy works alongside the client. Executive Search is a more resource intensive approach and gives the client a thorough understanding of what they will need for the role, the landscape of the role and skill sets in question, the type of people they can expect to entice as well as a managed timeline for the whole project."

Personally, I had experience with clients aware that such Executive search is a cost. Is not cheap, but there is a huge amount of job behind the scene. There are companies that are selecting the support from recruiting agency/headhunter just based on price. This is a great mistake overall. How many companies before selecting the right external support are conducting a short due diligence about competencies of the agency and overall competencies of the individual who will be appointed to work on the specific search? In the end of the day, the pool of suitable candidates depending on competencies of your delivery manager/specialist who will be in charge. Did you select the right one to bring you the best talent on board? Ask twice your HR manager about it.

Unfortunately, good candidates are hard to come by and the best way to find them is to have a partner agency/headhunter actively target who you want. If you don’t hire the best headhunter to find the best talent for you, your business will inevitably lose money.