Gone are the days of headhunting being a “secret men’s or women’s business” only executed at the top echelons of the executive search world. As we move into world wide recovery, identifying talent within the marketplace will become a highly sought after skill. Recruiters can no longer rely on passive candidate sourcing strategies, a more active approach to sourcing talent is required.
Advantages of Headhunting
1. The client finds the best candidates for the role, not necessarily the most visible in the marketplace.
2. Saves the time of both the client and consultant in only interviewing the most appropriate candidates.
3. Your candidates are exclusive. As you have approached them, they are not necessarily looking at other options.
4. As a recruiter, you are positioned in a more professional space in the marketplace. That’s great for your personal brand.
Rules for headhunting
There are some rules for headhunting that you should be aware of before you start.
Never headhunt from an existing client. When you break this rule you give headhunting and the recruitment industry in general a bad name. Some unethical recruiters have been known to poach previously placed candidates from existing clients.
A client is defined as someone who has paid you money in the last twelve months. Don’t get this definition confused with someone who has listed a job. Basically there are three types of companies that a headhunter works with:
1. Client companies – those that you (or your company) has placed candidates with in the last 12 months.
2. Prospective companies – those companies that are currently in your sales funnel and you are actively working on.
3. Source companies – those companies that you are actively sourcing candidates from.
How do you decide on source companies? Take a look at your current database. Sort out the companies that fall into the first two categories above and then those that are left fall into the potential source companies category. Having said that, be ruthless with prospects. Will you make higher levels of profit placing into or sourcing from that company? Many of us believe that organizations that list lots of jobs with us are potential gold clients. However, if you are one of ten recruiters briefed and there appears no opportunity for exclusivity, then the opportunity cost in working the jobs may be too high. Perhaps this company would be a more profitable source of candidates.
Do some research before picking up the phone
One of the best places to target for possible candidates are your client’s direct competitors. Incidentally, I also make a habit of always asking my client if there is someone in particular he or she is interested in talking to about this opportunity. Quite often, your client already has an idea who he or she is interested in or at least which competitors are worth approaching. It is much easier to get past the gatekeeper if you have a name, so invest some time in the research first.
Tips for Success
1. Be in the zone before you pick up the phone.
You must believe that approaching this candidate is a win/win for all concerned. Make the approach believing that the candidate will be interested and will want to send you a CV.
2. Create a script.
Whilst serving your headhunting apprenticeship it is important to use scripts. Have a call objective and a fall back position. Consider the personality and generation of your target and use appropriate language.
3. Mind what you say!
Have you given enough information to get your candidate interested or so much that an objection is coming your way? How about your delivery? Do you sound confident, ethical and professional? If you have ever listened to a master headhunter, you will hear that they know exactly what to say and how to say it.
4. Don’t necessarily meet every target you approach
Assess the target for desire to change jobs otherwise you could be wasting your time. Ask “On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) how likely are you to move if the right opportunity is presented to you?”
5. Candidate care is essential.
Remember that you have approached your target. That makes the relationship different to an “active” candidate. Your target must have a positive value-added experience from dealing with you, even if he or she does not end up being placed by you.
6. When the target says “no thanks”
Build your brand! Ask permission to contact the person again should another suitable opportunity present itself. Don’t burn your bridges, make every contact with every person you talk to positive.
7. Manage the process.
Headhunted candidates are more likely to stay with their current employer if counter offered. You need to manage the resignation process regardless of the level of the candidate and remind the candidate the reasons that he or she has selected to go with your client.
Serving an apprenticeship takes time, patience and skill development. Learn and practice the skills of headhunting and you will never complain about talent shortage again!