Although some companies have specific employees designated for recruitment and hiring purposes, those who don’t may need assistance from a headhunter to find the perfect person to fill a specific role.
But, what exactly does a headhunter do? Simply put, a headhunter identifies potential job candidates and approaches them about filling the role. They then act as a liaison between the company hiring and the applicant to place top talent quickly and efficiently.
You may wonder how this is different from a recruiter because frankly, their responsibilities sound nearly identical. Some headhunters are actually referred to as third-party recruiters because they do recruit people, just from a role outside of the company’s own structure. They don’t work in-house for the company who is hiring, but rather for themselves or an outside agency.
Who needs a headhunter
Companies looking to fill specific roles with the proper personnel, but who lack an individual to perform such a task could benefit from using a headhunter. More specifically, companies with a number of requirements for a particular role may want to take advantage of a headhunter’s services in order to help narrow their field of applicants to only those who are qualified.
Headhunters will often be well-connected within a certain industry or with groups of workers who possess specific skills. Their connections can be extremely valuable for employers who may not want to spend much time or energy seeking out candidates for a particular role.
What makes a quality headhunter
A quality headhunter will take the time to properly vet job candidates prior to sending their contact information over to a hiring manager. They’ll look into a person’s background, explore their job history, and evaluate how well their qualifications stack up against what the open role requires.
This takes the pressure off of the hiring manager and ensures that they’re only taking the time to interview the absolute best candidate for the role. Additionally, a headhunter will prep applicants on the specifics of what to expect during their interviews to make the process as smooth and painless as possible for everyone involved. Throughout this process, the headhunter can ensure that the person applying is well-prepared and ready to step into their prospective role.
Often, a quality headhunter will specialize within a certain industry niche to ensure that they stay well-informed and connected to the best of the best potential candidates and job openings within a particular market. Connecting with those who attend industry events or come by way of word-of-mouth referrals will generally help employers to make certain they have found a quality headhunter.
How headhunters make their money
Most headhunters do not get paid unless the candidate they bring to an employer lands the job. This means that successful headhunters must know how to connect properly-qualified people with the right job.
Headhunters typically work on a contingency basis where they receive a percentage of the new hire’s candidate’s first-year salary — usually 20-30%. However, under some circumstances, employers may offer a headhunter a flat rate for their service.
How headhunters find quality employees
Many headhunters depend on personal connection and networking in order to gain clients as well as find suitable candidates for the job openings they have been commissioned to fill. They may cold call or email talent that they find on posting resumes to job boards or networking websites whose qualifications match those of the position to be filled.
After making a connection, headhunters will often keep in touch with prospective employees even if they are not a fit for the particular role they were searching for at the time. Maintaining an open line of communication — especially with those in a particular industry or area of expertise — could help a headhunter with the next job someone asks them to fill.
How to connect with a headhunter as a prospective employee
Connecting with a headhunter as an employee can help you get your foot in the door, so to speak. They’ll have all of the info you need to land the job and be able to prep you to make sure you’re well-prepared for the interview process.
Working with a headhunter is definitely different from working with an in-house recruiter or directly with a company’s hiring manager because a headhunter will take the time to walk with you through the process as well as provide feedback that can help you hone in on exactly what it is that will make you stand out.
Because headhunters rely heavily on a personal connection to fill the roles they need to, actively networking through industry events and online is the best way to get your resume in the hands of a headhunter.
Remember, a headhunter makes their money by finding the right candidate for a company to hire, so it’s in their best interest that you get the job. As long as you’re willing to put in the work and follow their lead, you’ll both benefit.