+48 606 911 700

Something about headhunting you should know (almost a sad story)

Today I want to discuss about a topic that surely was, is and will be always interesting subject both for job seekers and for potential employer. We can start from the ABC…answering to the first question: what exactly does headhunters do? Simply said, headhunters are recruiters, but not all recruiters are headhunters.  Another term for the work that headhunters do is "Executive Search" as headhunters literally search for candidates, who are usually, but not always, executives, mainly not active looking for a job, as they are too busy with their role, engaged and hold full responsibilities of achievement of the company where they work.  The Executive Searcher's client is always an organization or a company, never an individual.

Clients on either a contingency or a retained basis pay headhunters.  Firms who accept contingency searches are paid only when a search is completed and the hire is on board.  Companies that work on retainer usually get the bulk of their fee before the search is complete.  Contingency fees are, generally, for lower level positions and retained fees for higher-level searches.

How do they find their candidates?  One way, which is how you are most likely to find your next position, is networking.  Advertising is another but rarely works.  Research, through a variety of methods, including the internet and trade associations, fairs and other directories, plays a major role in locating candidates. Finally, trust and reputation of the headhunter is very important as he/she surely have to have very challenging project to fulfil and being committed to the executive search by a reputable company.

There is an important point to clarify: If you are a job seeker, you have to understand that headhunters are not your agents. This misconception is what causes so many job seekers not to trust recruiters. In order to appreciate them, it is important to understand exactly how they fit into a job seeker’s search strategy. Headhunters work for their clients, and as much as you would like to think you are their client, unfortunately the bad news is you are not. Their clients are companies who need their help filling a job opening. One of the reasons recruiters get such a bad rap is because of the misconception that a recruiter’s job is to find job seekers jobs.

Companies hire agencies. Although some agencies are retained, most work on a contingency basis, which means that they only are paid if they find the perfect candidate for the job.

Please note that if they do not find a candidate for the job, they get zilch. It is not uncommon for a Recruiter to work on a position for week’s even months and end up with nothing. Try to imagine if you are a freelance and you have to deal with normal life (yes, we are normal humans with bills, costs, family problems, illness, children and grumpy wives…)

During my almost 14 years of experience on field, I know recruiters have a bad reputation, and let us be honest about it – just like HR folks, used-car salespeople, that bad reputation was earned. Nearly every job seeker has a story about being spurned, mistreated, dissed or ignored by a recruiter. That does not mean that every headhunters or third-party recruiter is a rapacious villain.

The truth is that plenty of ethical and hard-working search partners put brilliant job seekers together with forward-looking hiring managers every day. If they did not, the third-party recruiting world would cease to exist.

Most of the complaints we hear about difficult, uncommunicative, dismissive or downright abusive recruiters comes from the contingency side of recruiting, rather than retained search. That makes sense. Retained search firms specialize in attracting high-level candidates and keeping them interested. They do not typically leave job seekers waiting for weeks to hear back after an interview.

The contingency world is very different. A contingency recruiter literally may not be paid for months on end (again please think about a free-lance without any incomes for months to pay for his/her daily costs of being an human with credit for his/her house or rent, bills, and costs related with his/her small HR company).

The most frustrating thing happen when a recruiter submits dozens of resumes to a hiring manager and even if he or she spends countless hours scheduling interviews, following up, preparing detailed reports, verifying  reference and negotiating a deal, unless the offer is accepted, the contingency recruiter is out of luck.

In the end…. the deal is everything. Within HR environment we use to talk about the ‘crank and the flame’. The crank is your income-generation process. It is how you are paid. Turn the crank, and money comes out. Your flame is your passion, your higher calling, your commitment and persuasion attitude. Contingency search is a crank-oriented world. Get money, get paid!