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Engaging a headhunter: What are you paying for?

Engaging a headhunter: What are you paying for?

Find related articles: Hiring, Talent attraction

In the golden age of recruitment, organisations had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with headhunters. The client gave a description of the type of person they’re looking for, and the headhunter went away and found candidates who most closely matched that brief. But as to how the headhunter carried out the process of searching and selecting relevant candidates – well, that was entirely up to them. 

In today’s age of open-sourcing, online communities and the behemoth that is LinkedIn, these “black art” search tactics are no longer good enough. Organisations need access to agile, collaborative and ambitious talent that can help navigate through the challenges of the new world of work – and, as a result, many are demanding greater transparency from the headhunters they partner with.

So, why do you need a headhunter to engage talent - particularly if you have to pay 33%+ fees and additional expenses?

The traditional recruitment model.

In the old world of recruitment, the quality of candidates you received depended entirely on the quality of headhunter you partnered with. If you worked with a well-known and highly connected recruiter, when they filled the role a costly cut of your budget would be sent their way. On the other hand, as the old saying goes: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. 

While the headhunter may have claimed to compile the best possible shortlist, and that their search had been carried out on a global scale, there were no guarantees that these candidates were the right fit. In reality, headhunters would listen to your brief, and perhaps ask you for a few companies to target, before going away and pulling together a shortlist based on additional contacts from their little black book.

When it came to helping candidates find the right job for them, headhunters paid very little attention to their fit within the organisation, or how well-suited they were to the role besides how they looked on paper. Furthermore, they often adopted an aloof approach, passing around phrases like “We don’t meet people unless we have an assignment on,” or “We know where you are when we need you.”

What you deserve from a headhunter.

In the new world of work, where the walls between candidates and organisations have come crashing down thanks to sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, you should be asking yourself: Where do headhunters actually add value? 

Modern, relevant and value-adding headhunters should be providing you with the following:

  • In-depth resourcing: This should take place across all different platforms, and on a global scale, for each and every search. There is an argument to say that the vast majority of talent is “found” in today’s world
  • Access to passive candidates: Your search shouldn’t be limited purely to people on the jobs market. Demand access to the best possible candidates in your market sector through a range of different platforms, chat rooms and peer referrals
  • Data-based insights: When you make decisions based on your gut instincts, it’s easy to get things wrong (and it opens up the door to bias or discriminative influences). Instead, look for a headhunter that can provide psychometric, fact-based, assessment insights and has the ability to evidentially measure potential
  • Measure mindset: You can’t measure someone’s suitability for a role based on skills and experience alone – you need to know their mindset profile. Our psychometric tool Pulse Mindset measures a candidate’s preferences, motivators and attitudes to work, far more relevant into today’s ever changing business environment
  • Development criteria: To retain fresh talent, you’ll need to ensure they’re engaged and supported – and to do this, you’ll need an individual development strategy in place from day one
  • Post-placement support: A headhunter’s job doesn’t finish once the candidate’s signed on the dotted line. They should take an active role in ensuring the candidate goes on to hit the ground running within their first 90 days
  • Competitive rates: A headhunter should allow for a range of value-added services to play a more significant part in their offering, rather than simply charging a fee for filling a role. Project costs allow the headhunter to do the “how and when” and the client to concentrate on engaging the talent.

My final question: are you getting all of the added value described above? If you’re not, get in touch with one of our recruitment consultants to find out how we can help your organisation find suitable talent. You have the right to demand more from your headhunter.

Find related articles: Hiring, Talent attraction

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