Some perspectives regarding various issues and topics concerning the executive search segment of the recruitment industry.
Headhunters don’t rely on a database and a book of contacts – neither do they use the internet job boards and Dbases. Paying a retainer or a high fee does not mean you are getting “search”. Search - or Headhunting - is defined by the methodology, not by a way of charging for the service. It means that instead of trawling the internet or running ads (on-line or hard copy) you compile a target list of companies and divisions within companies that have a similar or complementary business model (not always direct competitors) to that of the company which you are recruiting for – and you recruit (headhunt) from this list.
This means mapping out the relevant functional and geographical organisation charts to identify every person within those organizations capable of doing the job you are trying to fill. Then you telephone them, try to attract them to talk based on an opportunity that advances their career, and screen them against client needs and their own ambitions. That is headhunting. Once target people are qualified and interested, the process of recruitment and the advisory role of the consultant begins.
Internal recruitment departments often have a different job to do, which is to staff for volume recruitment programmes where the positions they are trying to fill (or rather the skills they want those people to bring) have no clearly and consistently identifiable job title. This means trawling ad response and the internet to identify key words that may throw up the right candidates. Hence the difficulty of ensuring online response quality. It has to be done, because you can’t headhunt a generalist. However it is inefficient to use the same methodology for recruiting a specialist.
Regarding advertising or online Databases, common sense dictates that there is a much bigger target pool of talent capable of doing a job at any one time than that section who are actively looking for a new job or will respond to an advertisement. As a simple example, say you are looking for an MD of Media Broadcast Company in Munich. Naturally, by calling all MDs and second in line (Commercial Directors usually) from a target list of all Broadcast Media Groups in Bavaria (or even internationally) depending on the client’s essential criteria; you will speak to a much larger number of candidates.
A candidate is someone who could do the job, not someone who is looking for a job. A genuine headhunter will guarantee you access to that talent by personally speaking to the people who could do the job - and the headhunter does their job by persuading the best and most motivated amongst this group to come to the table and speak to you. They can’t guarantee they will take the job but they can guarantee they will speak to them about your opportunity. Neither an advertisement nor a Database can. Farn Williams specialise in EMEA region searches across various verticals, functions and target geographies.
Jonathan FARN, Executive Director
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