With trepidation, I dialed the telephone number and asked to be connected to a candidate that I’ve been working with for the past three months. Upon hearing the candidate’s name and without hesitation, the receptionist replied: “Oh, he’s no longer with the company”.

As I hung up the phone, the memories flashed through my mind as if I was watching an episode of “Lost”.

That was the only purpose of the phone call, to feel those magical words. Those are the words that I expected and wanted to hear; because I already knew that my candidate was no longer with that company.

It was exaltation in realizing that the same individual whom I discovered three months earlier had taken the most important step in advancing his career. He has bravely resigned from his job, rebuffed all attempts from superiors to remain, packed his personal belongings, returned his ID badge to HR and said goodbye to his co-workers. Even though he wasn’t actively looking for a new job, he rode off into the sunset to take his rightful place in a more meaning role with his new employer.

The specific feeling of that realization is what a headhunter describes as the “YESSSS moment” otherwise known as a placement.

If you are a true recruiter (not just in it for the $), it doesn’t get any better than this. This is what it is all about; it is what you live for. It is the motivation; the carrot in front of the horse, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the finish
line in sight or reaching the top of the hill, all experienced at the same time. Like the self discipline that keeps a
competitive athlete on top of his game, placements are the adrenaline rush that at headhunter craves. Although most searches do not result into placements, it is that zest for a placement that makes a good recruiter do it all over again and again.

Don’t get me wrong! The money earned from a placement is important. In fact it is the main reason why the best athletes are attracted to the sport of headhunting. And the money makes the game real. A few will succeed and many will fail; only the best will survive the game. So making placements means that you are extending your time in the game. It is
all interconnected: recruitment activity = interviews = placements = money = life in recruiting. If you truly love
the game, then recruiting becomes your life.

While the contingency recruitment model is probably the most challenging in the entire recruitment sphere; the recruiters who survive this game are sometimes depicted as sales people that are not deserving of the huge placement fees they are paid. Technology vendors also argue that headhunters no longer add value to the recruitment process; they are merely down-loading resumes from the Internet and submitting them to clients in the hopes of getting
a big fat paycheck.

What they fail to take into account is the amount of time the headhunter has invested in perfecting his craft in sourcing, cold calling, relationship building, creating a need, selling the opportunity, while counseling skeptical candidates through the interview maze of job placements. All too often overlooked is the fact that placement is a numbers game; in 9 out of 10 interviews the recruiter will not earn a fee for his efforts because he is only compensated on successful hires.

So why is the placement fee such a huge concern when it doesn’t cost anything to interview the candidate?

HR will say cost-per-hire, lack of budget, or blah…blah…blah; but I say it is short-sightedness!

Here’s a simply story of why: A few years ago my wife and I were vacationing in Mexico. And without our permission, a native kid took an instant photograph of us and offered to sell us the photograph for $5. Even though we had taken many pictures with our own camera, we realized that we could not have captured that moment as it was depicted in his photograph. Was his photograph worth $5? It must have because that photograph is presently framed and is on display in our home for all friends and guests to see. It has become more than a photograph;it is a story and a memory in time captured through the vision of a young boy.

The next time a headhunter contact you to present a candidate for your job opportunity, think of this story. There is the possibility that his candidate might be the ONE that could make a difference not just for the job, your department,
your organization; but a difference in your life. Are all headhunter referred applicant worth a placement fee? Probably not, but it won’t cost a penny for you to see and hear for yourself through the actions and the own words of the applicant.

By simply keeping an open mind, you can take pride in knowing that you are evaluating the best of what the talent pool has to offer and also giving encouragement to those who live to hear the magical words, no longer with the company.