The Definitive Guide to what is a Headhunter

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The Definitive Guide to what is a Headhunter

Definitive Guide To A Headhunter

This guide aims to answer all of your questions about headhunting services. We’ll start with answering the question ‘What is a headhunter?’ but move onto specifics about how you can be sure you need one; why headhunters differ from standard recruitment practices; what they actually do to fill your vacancy or find your dream job; and how you can select the best headhunter for your needs.

What is a Headhunter?

Headhunters are experienced professionals who find the right individuals for your role. They are a recruitment strategist with a difference.

In short, every other recruitment modality is about finding candidates. Headhunting is about finding talent. This is a key distinction between a headhunter and other recruitment consultants.

In other recruitment techniques, you aim to create a deep and wide pool of candidates by casting your net wide. The hope is that, in so doing, you find that one individual you need. In headhunting, we’re not interested in how big or deep the candidate pool is. We’re far more role and organisation focused. A headhunter will get to know exactly what you need – that unique blend of attributes, skills and talent – and then go and find the small handful (or individual) that meet that need directly.

A headhunter will then go one step further: they actively entice the ideal candidate into your role. This is crucial. The best talent is rarely sitting around waiting to jump into that typical recruitment net. Instead, they are currently engaged.

Why Do You Need a Headhunter?

There are many different reasons why you may need to understand ‘what is a headhunter’ and why you need one. In fact, the reasons are as unique as your organisation is – and that’s where the value can be added. Therefore, if you’re having problems getting your talent-acquisition spot on, then a headhunter should be your next port of call. However, there are some main reasons that organisations need headhunters:

  • Value for Money: The recruitment market in the UK was worth £35.1 billion. That’s staggering. Unfortunately many organisations are throwing their money away through various recruitment methods. Adverts can be costly for little return. Recruitment agencies can be painfully expensive when the candidate ups and leaves after six months because it wasn’t a good match. When you need more than people on seats, you need recruitment strategies that are cost effective. Headhunting offers value for money.
  • You’re Not Finding the Talent: Unemployment in the UK is just 4.3% – that’s the lowest it’s been since 1975. Therefore, you may be casting the net wide but still failing to find the candidates you need.
  • You’re Looking at HighLevel High-Value Roles: Not all roles in an organisation are as crucial as each other. Your admin staff may be two-a-penny but you need someone uniquely skilled, with the perfect attributes and cultural fit to fill an executive level role. Headhunters deliver the leadership candidates you need from a small pool.
  • You Need a LowKey Approach: Many organisations face a conundrum when recruiting for their executive level positions – how to get the word out without telling your competitors you’re in need. Headhunters are able to find the right candidate and fill your role before your competitors get wind of the problem. No weakness in your ranks will be revealed by a high-profile recruitment strategy.
  • Access to Resources: Recruitment is rarely a straightforward sum where you combine the right variables and outcomes a solution – especially a long-lasting one. A headhunter is better placed to access the skills and talent you need because they have a networking platform that you don’t, and can’t have simply because of who you are. Combine this with the time availability you have to actively source candidates and you can quickly see why a dedicated executive headhunter will be more successful.

How Does a Headhunter Work?

Perhaps this is where the confusion over ‘what is a headhunter’ comes from: an exceptional headhunter will be akin to a chameleon. They change and adapt, pulling on a range of different skills and resources, according to what is needed for one particularly vacancy. There is no standardised approach.

Unfortunately, many headhunters aren’t truly that. Instead, they operate a candidate database, which is much like the pool of candidates you’d find from a regular recruitment search. A true headhunter, (such as ourselves, Eagle Headhunters), will use a range of refined and practiced research techniques in order to tap in to the passive marketplace. They don’t stop there either: They use a combination of networking and specialised interview techniques to further qualify candidates. Then they sell you. Carefully matching ideal candidate to you so that you can be sure the talent you get will stand you in good stead for the future.

This isn’t to say that true headhunters aren’t keen to hear from prospective candidates. Eagle Headhunters do accept direct candidate registration. However, it is merely one tool used alongside a plethora of others, and secondary to ensuring the right fit for the organisation.

The complete process should take around 4-6 weeks: considerably faster than many recruitment strategies, yet thorough.

How Much Does a Headhunter Cost?

On the face of it, headhunting can appear more costly than other recruitment processes. However, in many ways it’s not easily comparable to these approaches. What it should represent, however, is excellent value for money.

Generally, fees for headhunting are equivalent to around 30% of the first year salary for the role to be filled although we do negotiate as low as 20% depending upon the nature of the assignment. This is often paid in stages to reflect the completion of the project. Headhunters represent excellent value of money for recruitment for executive-level roles because they are always looking to adding value through your talent acquisition, and have their eye on long-term strategies.

How to Choose the Right Headhunter

Now you know what a headhunter is, how do you find the right one for your needs? There is no standardised professional expectation of a headhunter: therefore you need to be savvy and ensure you choose carefully.

The two biggest factors you should look for are: track record and expertise. You can gauge how successful a headhunter will be in filling your position by asking for some data and case studies. You then need to be sure that they have the right experience and network for looking for your specific type of role. For example PR & Marketing Headhunters differ from what you need from headhunters for Banking & Finance.

You also need to be sure you can trust your headhunter. They will need to get to know your organisation, and the role, in order to establish and define exactly what you need. They then need to carefully and strategically find you the talent required without compromising your status. That’s a fine line to walk and not one which all headhunters successfully navigate.

At Eagle Headhunters we have a team of specialised national and international headhunters experienced across a range of industries. Our track-record of successful long-term placements is the best indicator of our success. To transform your recruitment by using a headhunter call us on 0203 582 2663.