It’s Time to Take Another Look at Headhunters

The economy is recovering, but there are still millions of people desperately searching to find a job.  The irony is that many jobs are remaining unfilled.  Why?  The employers say that it is because they cannot find enough qualified applicants to fill them!  The recruitment vendors say it is because the good people are hard to find and they have responded by developing a wide assortment of cutting edge tools to help employers find the good people.  On the other hand, veterans from the old school of headhunting has proclaimed that the main reason employers cannot find enough qualified applicants is because the recruitment tools that they are using  are no longer effective in recruiting the good people. Now is the time put recruiting back into the hands of headhunters and employers need to take another look at headhunting as a talent acquisition solution!


Is it that the good people are hard to find or is it that the present recruitment tools are no longer effective in recruiting the good people?

A better question might be, is there a new modernized method for recruiting the good people in today’s environment?

The new headhunters of today are saying, hello-over here!


Today there are boat loads of job boards, social media, and mobile recruitment tools available to help employers find the good people.  But when you peel back the layers, they all funneled into one of only four methods for recruiting talent.  The methods are free or paid advertisement and internal or external recruitment.


This is the cheapest method for recruiting the best talent.  The reason it is cheap is because it is done through word-of-mouth marketing.  So, it is employee referrals and the individuals that you know personally, who will do the hands-on recruiting.  They are the ones most likely know the person with the right skills because they have worked with, trained or competed against that individual.  But the reason why this method is ineffective in recruiting the good people is because of limited reach.  The buzz in the marketplace of your job opportunity will reach only the individuals that are inside of your circle.


How do you reach the other applicants that are outside of your circle?  You can advertise the job on the Internet, because it has a very wide reach.  But the reason why job boards are ineffective in recruiting the good people is because of over-reach.  The ad will be visible to too many people with the wrong skills that are needed. As a result, the ad will generate a huge quantity of resumes and very limited quality in terms of applicants. On top of that it will require a significant investment of time in mining those resumes in search of the few qualified applicants.


How do you find the qualified applicants from the huge mound of unqualified resumes without wasting valuable time?  Most employers will hire a full-time employee to perform this function.  The problem with this method is that if the employer does not have a nationally recognized brand that can attract enough qualified applicants based on its name, then finding qualified applicants’ will be in the hands of that full-time employee.  And if that employee is spending a lot of time searching for qualified applicants, this method can become very costly when taken into account the salary, benefits and the internal cost associated with employing a full-time employee.


This involves outsourcing the recruitment functions to professional headhunters.   This is the most strategic and targeted method for recruiting talent.  There are two reasons why:

  1. Headhunters recruit ahead of the need by focusing on developing relationships with the individuals that they would like to recruit before they actually needed to recruit them.    This is essential for building trust which is the most over-looked and the most powerful ingredient for recruiting the best talent.
  2. Headhunting is also very cost effective; it allows the employer to focus on the profitable functions of his business and relieves him of recruitment limitations, the time-intensive and the headache oriented functions of talent acquisition.  At their own expense, the headhunters provide screened qualified applicants that the employer can evaluate to determine if a fit exist.  This is a free service to the employer if no applicant is selected.  The employer will pay a finder’s fee only if the employer selects an applicant that is determined to be a value for the finder’s fee.   But even headhunting has become ineffective in recruiting the good people.  Why? Many employers have concluded that the finder’s fee is way too expensive.


Take a good look at the recruitment tools on the market today; they are mostly designed for the paid advertising and the internal recruitment methods.  That is only because employers have become more focused on the cost of the finder’s fee and are less concerned about the cost of not using headhunters.  In addition, the free advertisement model is not as popular among recruitment vendors as they have not yet discovered a way to generate revenue from selling it as a solution.  That explains why so many jobs are remaining unfilled; the good people aren’t moving and it’s not because of the economy. It is because they are not inspired to want something that they don’t know they really want.   The good people have to be inspired and become emotionally involved before they will take look at your job opportunity.  So the new modernized method that will enable you to recruit headhunted caliber talent in this environment is a combination of the free advertisement and the external recruitment models.  The challenge will be to strategically broaden the reach on one end to include a larger targeted talent network and creatively lower the price on the other end.  Easier said than done, but it is definitely an overlooked opportunity for headhunters.