Headhunting and the contingent recruiter

There is a lot of talk from contingent recruiters about headhuting. Some claim to their clients that their skills in this area separate them from other specialist recruiters. Some of these recruitment consultants are right. The majority, however, don’t really know what headhunting is. They think they do but they don’t.

Headhunting is NOT:

Phoning people (or even worse sending inmails) on Linkedin to find out if they are interested in hearing about your vacancies. Yet, there are many recruiters who think that they have headhunted someone because they didn’t find them on a job board or in their inbox responding to an advert.

Headhunting is:

Identifying individuals whom, through research, are identified as a match for your client based upon achievement, reputation and skills. A true headhunter will not poll the market looking for the passive and/or active job seeker.  A search professional will research and target the right prospects and then work on behalf of their client to define what it will take to secure the top talent.

A sheep in wolf clothing

"I am a headhunter! Honest!!"

I was sat in a client business recently conducting some at desk coaching with a consultant. The phone rang and it was a Rec to Rec. The Rec to Rec claimed in their opening gambit to be ‘headhunting’ the consultant I was with. Given I was plugged into the phone system I had the opportunity to hear the pitch. It boiled down to this:

"I am a specialist headhunter working in the recruitment to recruitment market."

"I have lots of clients."

Before we got to the headhunt part the consultant I was with said they were not looking to leave. The Rec to Rec then asked who they knew that they would recommend. The consultant said no one. End of call.

That was not a headhunt call! 

If you are a business owner or director of a recruitment company and you think you have Rec to Recs conducting search assignments for you, then that could have been your current representation in the market. If you have recruiters working for you telling clients they are going to headhunt on their behalf and that is the extent of their headhunt offering then your clients are going to be disappointed.

A classic case of over promise and under deliver.