Why We Hate Headhunters

If you are in the recruiting Industry and someone asked you what the role of a headhunter was, how would you explain it?

Ask anyone at random what a headhunter was, and they’ll probably say something like “aren’t they the ones who steal people?

Ask highly trained executives, and they will say something like “aren’t they the pushy types that call you out of the blue trying to get you to leave your job for some other job they’re pushing-so they can make a killing?

Ask employers and they will say something like “they’re always trying to get you to hire someone that we don’t need or offering to help us fill a job that we don’t need any help in filling-just so that they can make a killing!

My point-They play a very important role in an Industry, yet very rarely the profession of headhunter will be viewed in a positive light!


Because the role of a headhunter is misunderstood by many!

What is said about headhunters above is from the small picture perspective. But if you look at the big picture-it’s a totally different story.

The fact is headhunters play a very important role in any Industry. The role they play is that of  enforcers of competition-with responsibilities to ensure that competition is balanced among competing firms within that Industry. Balanced competition prevents the Industry from collapsing under its own weight. In addition, headhunting is a business strategy that provides a super ROI on working capital.

Balancing Competition

An example of balancing competition is recruiting some of the top talents away from the larger firms and placing those talents in a smaller firm. A team of high performing talent will allow that small local firm to compete on a level-playing-field with the National firms.  And as a result, the smaller firm will end up capturing more customers from the weaker firms. The weaker firms are the ones that lack strategic innovations. Their methods are out-dated, behind-the-times and they are no longer adding value to their customers.

Collapsing under its-own Weight

Without balanced competition, the bigger firms will become even bigger; simply by acquiring the smaller firms. (They’ll just gobble up the competition-its human nature). And with more consolidation in an Industry, there will be less competition. With less competing firms, there will be fewer jobs. Fewer jobs will lead to off-shoring of even more jobs, and ultimately we will end up with poor quality service and higher prices.

The role of headhunters is to prevent massive job loss-by balancing competition in the Industry they serve.

Return-on Investment

Employed as a strategy, headhunting will save employers a fortune in working capital.  And saving money is very important especially in a recession. By working capital, I’m referring to salaries that are paid to employees while they are being trained.

Top headhunters’ view money spent on training of employees-as pouring money down the rabbit hole.


Because most trainees won’t return to the employers the investment that they have made in their training. At the end of the day, most trainees will end up as just average performers and others will leave the Industry. A very few will become superstars and become profitable to their employer. Those superstars however, most likely will be recruited away to a competitor.  And the training process starts all over again, with the same results.

Payroll v. Placement Fees

That is why the headhunters’ strategy for success is “Do-not-train” employees. Instead, allow your competitors to do the hiring and training; you simply hire a headhunter. A headhunter will recruit talent away from your competitors after they are trained and place the best talent with you. It’s a smart decision on the part of an employer, because good headhunters place talent that returns immediate profits! Profits to their clients, generated from the investments made by others, most likely their competitor.


Final Thoughts

Show me an employer who doesn’t employ headhunting as a strategy and I will show you an organization that is burning through cash.

Show me an Industry that doesn’t rely on headhunters to balance competition and I will show you an Industry circling the drain of extinction.

Show me a highly trained executive who does not maintain a good relationship with headhunters and I will show you a promising career that may not reach its maximum potential.

Make no mistake; headhunting is a respected strategy for professional career advancement and a tool that produces a super ROI for employers.