7 Key Insights: Are You Headhunter Material?

We have already described how the headhunting business came about. However, while many of us use several terms in this business, we thought of sharing some insights from Liz Ryan’s post talking about several of these and most importantly sharing what one must expect from headhunters. It also addresses the key candidate question of, are you headhunter material or not?

Are you headhunter material or not

Frequently asked questions about headhunters and the business of headhunting

1) What is the difference between Headhunters and executive search consultants?

Liz Ryan: Headhunters, executive search consultants, third-party recruiters and search professionals are all different names for the same thing. Headhunters are people who work for themselves or work for recruiting firms, finding candidates for their employer clients.

2) What do you mean by a retain search firm?

Liz Ryan: Retained search firms perform dedicated, exclusive searches for their corporate and institutional clients. Once an employer hires a retained search firm and pays them an upfront fee of about ten percent of the new hire’s projected first-year cash compensation, the retained search firm starts beating the bushes for talent.

The retained search firm has to show up with at least one candidate who appears to have been raised in a Petri dish specifically to do this job, with every requirement the employer could dream of.

3) What are contingency recruiters?

Liz Ryan: Lots of contingency headhunters can work on the same job opening for the same employer, all at the same time. That means that a hiring manager can get resumes from five or six different recruiters for one job opening. Only one of the contingency recruiters will get paid when somebody gets hired. Whoever presented the ‘winning’ candidate is the headhunter who gets paid.

Everybody else worked hard on the assignment and didn’t take home a dime. Contingency recruiters only get paid when their candidates get hired, no matter how many resumes they present to hiring managers. Now you can see why not every job-seeker is recruiter material.

4) What’s the difference between career coaches and recruiters?

Unless recruiters have a long term relationship with candidates they do not share career advice. They usually do not have the time for it, and it is also not a part of their own job profile. And having said that, in our interviews with headhunters, we have observed that many of them see themselves as long term consulting partners and usually have long term relationships with their clients (candidates).

This is even more true when headhunters are involved in active sourcing, where all candidates could be potential candidates.

5) What kind of candidates are most preferred by headhunters?

Those that fit in the criteria of the job search mandate to the T. This means, the candidate needs to be aware of what the job description says in strong detail and mention the skill sets that are most needed in that role.

Usually headhunters do not spend too much time analyzing CVs in the first round, unless they find it to be a strong fit with the required specialized skill sets.

6) What backgrounds are headhunters hiring for? Are you headhunter material?

Usually headhunters hire for specialized skills. This includes: Finance, IT, Engineering, Specific Marketing experience amongst other things. The key is that usually these roles are senior, specialized and do not usually constitute of recent college grads or generalists.

Headhunters typically get search mandates from companies that are unable to hire for on their own. Thus, it is evident that this hiring is for specialized skills and roles.

7) What’s the best way to communicate with or contact headhunters?

It is important to find the right channels to get in contact with headhunters. These could be specialized portals, for instance, Experteer, or getting in touch through networks that you already know. At senior levels, there is a possibility that you already know a few headhunters who may have been in touch with you before.

Find our tips on maintaining great headhunter contact.

We hope these questions bring in more clarity to your next job application process! We wish you the best!

Ideas from the original post from Liz Ryan



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