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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is headhunting?

Headhunting, also known as executive search, is the process of recruiting and hiring highly skilled and experienced professionals for senior-level positions within an organization.

How does headhunting work?

Headhunting is a great method for sourcing top talent who may not be actively looking for a new job but who have the skills and experience necessary to excel in the open position. It can be a valuable tool if your company is looking to fill critical roles or to build a strong team of top-performing employees.

The headhunting process usually involves the following steps:

  1. The company or organization that needs to fill a position reaches out to a headhunting firm or individual headhunter.
  2. The headhunting firm or individual headhunter conducts a thorough candidate sourcing based on the company's requirements and specifications for the position. This may involve networking, using their own database of potential candidates, or even advertising the position.
  3. The headhunting firm or individual headhunter presents a shortlist of qualified candidates to the company or organization.
  4. The company or organization reviews the shortlist and conducts interviews with the selected candidates.

Once a candidate has been selected and offered the position, the headhunting firm or individual headhunter negotiates the employment terms and finalizes the hire on behalf of the company.

Difference between headhunting and traditional recruitment methods

Headhunting and traditional recruitment have the same purpose but possess different aspects, so here are a few points which might change your decision on whether to change your traditional recruitment process:

Third party involvement

Headhunting is a type of recruitment in which a company, organization, or individual hires a third party to identify and recruit potential employees for a specific job or position. This is in contrast to traditional recruitment methods, in which a company conducts its own search for candidates and manages the recruitment process internally.

Involvement of specialisation level

One of the key differences between headhunting and traditional recruitment is the level of specialisation involved. Headhunting is often used to fill senior-level or specialised positions that are difficult to fill through traditional recruiting methods. Headhunters have a deep understanding of the job market and are skilled at identifying and recruiting the best candidates for these types of roles.

Level of control

Another difference is the level of control a company has over the recruitment process. In traditional recruitment, a company has full control over the search for candidates and the selection process.

With headhunting, the company typically provides the headhunting firm or individual headhunter with the requirements and specifications for the position, but the headhunter manages the search and presents a shortlist of qualified candidates for the company to review.

Cost

Headhunting can also be a more costly recruitment method than traditional recruitment. Headhunting firms and individual headhunters often charge a fee for their services, which can add to the overall cost per hire.

However, many companies view this cost as worthwhile, given the expertise and time-saving benefits of using a headhunter.

Advantages of headhunting

There are several advantages to using headhunting as a recruitment method, including the following:

  • Access to a wider talent pool: Headhunters have a deep understanding of the job market and often have a network of contacts and a database of potential candidates that companies may not have access to on their own. This can help companies find high-quality candidates for difficult-to-fill positions.
  • Expertise and specialisation: Headhunters are experts in identifying and recruiting the best candidates for specific types of positions. This can be especially valuable for senior-level or specialized roles that require specific skills and experience.
  • Time-saving: Conducting a search for qualified candidates can be time-consuming, especially for difficult-to-fill positions. By using a headhunter, companies can save time and resources compared to conducting a search on their own.
  • Improved quality of hire: Headhunters are skilled at matching candidates to positions, which can lead to a higher quality of hire. This can be especially beneficial for companies that need to fill positions quickly and efficiently.
  • Improved employer branding: Working with a headhunter can help improve a company's employer brand and reputation. Headhunters often have a good understanding of what candidates are looking for in a job and can help companies present themselves in the best possible light to potential hires.

Disadvantages of headhunting

While there are several advantages to using headhunting as a recruitment method, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. These include the following:

  • Cost: Headhunting can be a costly recruitment method. Headhunting firms and individual headhunters often charge a fee for their services, which can add to the overall cost of filling a position.
  • Lack of control: Headhunting companies are the ones in charge of the whole recruitment process and choosing the final candidates, which results in a lack of control for the company. 
  • Potential conflicts of interest: In some cases, headhunters may have personal or professional relationships with potential candidates, which could create a conflict of interest. This could potentially lead to the headhunter recommending a candidate who may not be the best fit for the position or the company.
  • Limited personal interaction: Headhunting often involves a limited amount of personal interaction between the company and potential candidates. This can make it difficult for the company to get a sense of a candidate's personality, skills, and fit for the company culture.

Overall, while headhunting can be an effective recruitment method, it is important for companies to carefully weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to use a headhunter.

Need to hire senior-level positions? Check out our article on recruitment and hiring ideas to save time (and money).

 

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