How to Identify a Top Headhunter

Finding the right Headhunters is not always easy. Meanwhile, there is an almost overwhelming flow of Headhunting companies with varying quality levels. Seriousness, openness, transparency are some factors that candidates often consider in their evaluation. However, looking more closely at the insights our headhunter partners have to offer, we have now identified important criteria for you to consider on how to identify a top headhunter. So, onto your next top position!




Christian Pape, Pape Consulting Group AG: I think it is very important to look at the website of the Headhunters in detail. You can tell if they have a more conservative approach or are they smart/modern recruiters. Also, the total experience of the headhunting company is an important criterion. Headhunting companies have shot up in the last few years, literally everywhere, but many of them won’t last long while others are being acquired by larger players. A good guideline here is a minimum experience of 10 years. Then you can be sure that the headhunter is proven and knows what he/she is doing.

Another important quality criterion is the customer group. These are used as references as a rule and published on the website. Verify, however, that this is not just hot air. Ask in an initial interview the if the headhunter is in touch with the decision makers on the client side. Maybe the Headhunter will not mention any names, but you should feel sure that they know all the key people. Find out whether the headhunter has experience in your industry and speaks the same language.

Summarizing the tips on how to identify a top headhunter:

TIP #1: Find out the overall experience of the headhunting company or the headhunter

TIP #2: Be aware of the clientele of your headhunters

TIP # 3: Find out if the headhunters know the decision makers from the client side

Gustav Müller, InterKon Associates LLC: 

  1. A trusted advisor who can assist you in defining and implementing your career goals.
  2. A partner who will accompany you on your way, if you decide to try out new possibilities.
  3. A consultant with expertise and experience in specific industries and a good network in the respective area.

TIP #4: Find out if the headhunter offers you an opportunity to act towards your next career step

Erni Curk, Profil Group: Good recruiters never convey the feeling that they are pushing a candidate in the direction of a particular client. They take into account all aspects of the career path of the candidates and pay attention to what the candidate’s skills and motivations are to define what will work.

TIPP #5: Observe that the focus stays on the client. And you should not be forced to do anything

Hildegard Freund, Hildegard Freund HR Consulting: The specialization in a specific industry I think is important because you can only develop a deeper understanding if that is true. Above all a functioning network for its area is critical. However, this is possible in both small, focused consulting firms, or in bigger consulting firms where up each specific branch has different consultants.

TIP #6: Ensure the headhunter has a specialization in your particular area or branch

Thomas Holtmann, TOPOS Personalberatung: The size of a consulting company, is in my view not an essential quality feature. However, if multiple consultants are active in an industry, then the probability that they have a suitable position for a candidate will necessarily be higher. There is also the chance for headhunting services to offer you something outside your own industry if any exciting positions are available.

TIPP # 7: Ensure it is quality versus quantity

We hope that you are able to get help in your search for a headhunter through these tips. Because finding the right Headhunter is the first step to a great career. Good luck !

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