I will go on the record that I don’t like the term “Headhunter” although I know it is often well deserved. I believe it best refers to recruiters who “broker Resumes.” I’ve also heard the term, “Drive By Resume-Shooter” which is apropos. Candidate’s resumes are available in abundance today online. You don’t have to be a recruiter to find active candidates. Let’s face it, all you need to become a recruiter is a telephone and a computer with internet access. That is all one needs in order to qualify them as a “recruiter.” Recruiting takes many forms today and the kind of recruiting that has the greatest value to any organization is one of a true Consultant. Companies will often utilize multiple different recruiters and will task them with different searches to suit their needs. I have no problem with this as I accept that there are different types of recruiters. However, if you are one of those “Headhunters” who are chasing fees through volume, don’t expect to So what kind of recruiter are you? Recruiters who are relegated to the bottom of the “food chain” are what I call “Headhunters.” Headhunters are in a race to the “most available” candidates. The quickest draw often wins the fee with “Headhunters.”
If you are a recruiter and you want to have a meaningful career in search, you better become a Consultant to your clients or you will forever be classified as a “Headhunter” or “Flesh Peddler.” I have found that most “self respecting” Headhunters eventually either become Consultants or eventually place themselves back into a “real job” because of the lack of respect as a “Headhunter.” As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of this type of recruiter and every chance that I get, I encourage people to elevate their game. before you can elevate your game, you need to know where you stand on Search Scale. Are you a Headhunter or a Search Consultant, or somewhere in between? To know whether you are a true Search Consultant or merely a Headhunter, there are a few questions that you must ask yourself and your answers will make the case. The first question is” do you have full, unadulterated access to the decision maker? Or is there an HR person who keeps you under wraps and only allows “supervised visits” while you discuss whatever you need to with the real decision maker. If HR is in control of your every move, then chances are, you’re just a “Headhunter.” The next question is, after an interview, do you debrief the decision maker directly or do you get informed of the decision to move forward to the next stage or not? If you are not able to discuss the interview live with your decision maker, then you are not a valued part of the process. The extent of your contribution is “headhunting.” That isn’t all bad, I guess, if that is all that you aspire to. If you have gone to the length of recruiting passive people, then you have an obligation to both candidate and client to discuss the outcome of the interview and illuminate aspects and qualities of the candidate that were not on display in the first interview. This is what a true Search Consultant does. Presuming that you have spent hours on the phone with this person and vetted them, you will know them far better than the interviewer can in a single call.
Most headhunters will never elevate themselves to the level of a Search Consultant. They will remain in the periphery only to get second-hand information from HR. If this is you, there are things that can be done now to change the way that you work and are perceived by your client. If you can’t convey the value that you bring and the need for direct and timely feedback, then you will likely never make it.