A little background on using headhunting for your hiring

[This blog post was written by Lisa Baggaley as a primer for companies interested in using a headhunting service.]

What is it?

Working with headhunters can be a smart, time efficient way of connecting with great talent. It’s different to hiring through a traditional recruitment agency and in order to benefit from the process it pays to understand the difference between the two. A headhunter seeks and carefully selects smart, talented individuals whose profiles are a good match for an open role. They approach individuals who may not be actively job seeking in order to make them aware of the role and your company. A recruitment agency usually deals with candidates on the open market who are already on the look-out for a new role and may have instructed the agency to share their CV with the hiring world.

Both are perfectly sensible avenues for finding candidates, but candidates’ expectations will differ according to how they came to apply for your role.

The process

A standard headhunting process looks something like this:

  • Headhunter starts searches.
  • Headhunter finds and contacts a prospective candidate
  • A meeting/phone call/Skype takes place.
  • Interest and suitability is established. Questions answered.
  • CV is updated and sent to headhunter.
  • Application is made to the hiring team.

The timing of results depends on a number of factors, but each stage can take a couple of days, resulting in a process that both sides have invested time in that can last a couple of weeks.

On making contact, a good headhunter should establish interest, ensure the candidate is still a good fit and should deal with practicalities like salary expectations and potential start dates. If the headhunter is worth their salt the candidate should rest assured that they’re a serious contender for the role and will expect to be treated as such throughout the hiring process. After all, they’ve been contacted – not the other way around, and this is where the hiring team’s process comes into play.

Timing is of the essence. It’s vitally important your recruitment process complements the work of the headhunter by moving at a reasonable pace and treating the candidate respectfully at all times. Nobody will appreciate an experience where they have been contacted by somebody working on behalf of a team who, once in contact with you directly, treats you like a number or worse still doesn’t progress your application due to poor processes. Aside from wasting time on all sides it can be detrimental to your team’s reputation affecting future prospective candidates, so it’s important to get the process right.

We always strive to work as closely as possible with our clients and candidates to ensure everybody benefits from the headhunting process.