Turning Traditional Recruiting Towards Headhunting

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Headhunting is different from traditional corporate recruiting in the approach to seek out the best talent. Most companies spend thousands of dollars posting positions online to solicit masses of resumes from the public. Then the recruiter sifts through countless resumes and chooses to contact people who fill their resume with the buzzwords of the moment.

There’s a faster, more precise and efficient way to recruit for the most critical, hard-to-fill openings.

When a company takes on headhunting they empower their in-house recruiters with basic techniques designed to engage talented professionals who are not online looking for a new job. Often the ideal candidate is working elsewhere but open to discuss an opportunity with a skilled recruiter.

Over 50% of the workforce would change positions today if the right opportunity came along. This means people are willing and open to talk about changing jobs and their current position has components that are not to their liking. One co-worker can make an employee’s life miserable. Management may be lacking leadership, or vision. They may be confused, incompetent, stuck in the wrong decade, or filled with inflated egos. Infighting, too much bureaucracy, not enough vacation, or no potential for advancement can have an employee biding their time.

There are dozens of legitimate reasons candidates are open to talk to a recruiter and when one spends the day talking with people who already do the job an in-house recruiter is trying to fill the odds of success increase dramatically. The best person for a job is frequently not the most available one.

There’s comfort in doing things the same old way, especially when an employer has a large volume of workers to hire. Having people come to you and knowing they will jump through any hoops you present can generate feelings of power. It’s safe. Reaching out to candidates suddenly introduces the possibility of rejection and who likes to be rejected?

When one knows how to approach, engage, build rapport and trust quickly, the headhunting style becomes a tool of preference because it’s so powerful. Done correctly, this approach conveys to the candidate the recruiter who initiated the call is the one with the keys to their dream job and thus vulnerability diminishes and the power to choose remains strong.

There’s something thrilling about hunting down the exact right person for the job and the company. It takes skill, nerves of steel, and creativity. Luckily the ability to ask questions and listen remain the two biggest assets any recruiter can possess and both can be learned. It’s not difficult to modify one’s approach to recruiting and using the techniques headhunters’ use tends to improve all recruiting and interviewing methodology. Great methods produce results in real time and thus they’re remembered and repeated.

Hiring costs continue to rise and turnover remains a problem for many companies. As a headhunter there’s nothing more frustrating than for me to be paid for a placement when I know there are more headhunters cherry-picking the talent out of their operation. I always try and help my clients be aware of the holes on the backend of their system so they can plug those holes and ‘recruiter-proof’ their workforce. Simple conversations with employees about their future and weaknesses they see at the company can reduce turnover dramatically.

As an outsider looking in, my experience as a headhunter puts me in the ideal position to tactfully tell the truth about how employees’ view management. That’s useful information and having no political motivation, my insights carry weight. Consider training your recruiters on how headhunters go about their business. It’s likely to take your HR performance to the next level.

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