Why are headhunters effective?

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HR | January 23, 2012

Internal recruiters are very good when it comes to filling most positions, but for those critical hires or positions where there really isn’t enough top talent to go around (think top-tier MBA Brand Marketers, Sales Directors with promotions every 2 years etc.) traditional hiring methods don’t work.  Recruiters all work a bit different, but this should give you some insight into why I can fill a position that your internal recruitment team struggles with filling.

  1. I only work on 3-5 key assignments per month.  Internal recruiters typically have a very large number of openings they are trying to fill (often can be 30-100 positions).
  2. Internal teams tend to rely on ads or high resume flow to fill positions.  I’ll post a quick summary of my roles but never rely on candidate flow from a post and pray strategy.  It’s very rare I find the right candidate without putting out around 100+ calls and networking aggressively.
  3. I’ve been talking to the same candidates for years.  The amount of market intelligence gained talking to people everyday in your niche is invaluable, for example I know which companies are downsizing soon, moving corporate HQ in a few months, how everyone at company X is looking to leave since they bought company Y and the culture has changed. etc. etc. etc.  I know who’s ready for a promotion, who has been overlooked for a promotion and use this information to find strong candidates who may be motivated to make a change.
  4. I focus on a specific discipline or talent niche in my market.  Internal HR has to recruit for every discipline in the company; engineering, accounting, tech support, R&D, warehouse etc.  It’s hard to be an expert when you’ve got so many different roles to work on concurrently.
  5. Internal HR has too many distractions and bureaucracy to deal with on a daily basis (meetings, reports etc.) and note enough time to recruit.  As an outside recruiter I have all day to sit down and RECRUIT.   I can spend 3 days researching candidates, networking, so I can find that candidate who speaks Spanish, has called on Wal-Mart and is open for a move to Guatemala.
  6. I can call anyone.  Beyond the handful of strategic partners I work with I can call any company and recruit direct from them.  I know many companies whose talent would be transferable to categories that may not be apparent to a recruiter with less industry experience.  Also, I find many internal teams give me names of competitors they would like to land but may not want to call them direct, as it may be a little too close to home.
  7. I’m only as good as my last placement.  This is an old agency statement, but it’s true.   I have to fill positions or I won’t be around.  Sure, you never fill every position you work on for a number of reasons, the role may end up going internal, the hiring manager may hire an old co-worker etc, but I will make sure and present a few top candidates for every role that could get the job and impress my clients when they interview.
  8. I’m sure there are some more to add, but I have to get back on the phone and find that next “A player” for my client’s openings.

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