What is headhunting and what does a headdunter do?

executive recruiters search recruitment services

Terms used in personnel consulting

The term headhunter comes from English and it means “executive search consultant”. But the headhunting sounds more threatening than it is. Because meanwhile it is a common term for the targeted personnel search and with “Headhunter” is meant a personnel consultant for the direct approach. This is commissioned by companies to find a specific candidate for a position. But when is he needed and what exactly is behind the job of headhunter?

Why hire a headhunter?

If a company is looking for new employees, a job advertisement is usually published in a job exchange. Employers then wait until qualified candidates have contacted them and then select the right candidate from among them. However, if you are looking for a specific profile for an important position, e.g. a manager, then this type of employee search is no longer sufficient. The more specific the position and the requirements, the fewer people will be considered for the job and the harder it is to find the right person among them. Companies cannot afford to wait for the right candidate to apply, nor can they run the risk of misplacing. The solution: a professional headhunter!

Activity of a headhunter or personnel consultant

In a detailed consultation, the headhunter finds out which personality his client is looking for and which skills, knowledge, experience and character traits are particularly important for the position. Based on this, he draws up a detailed profile of requirements. The “hunt” can begin.

Nowadays headhunters go almost exclusively online on the stalk. Their hunting grounds are called XING, LinkedIn or in some cases Facebook. They also use their personal network, which they have built up during their career as headhunters. If a headhunter has spotted a suitable candidate, he or she will be contacted personally. This procedure is called direct search, executive search or direct approach. Usually, the candidates are currently in a permanent employment and are therefore not directly available. In addition, not all of them are interested in a new job. In order to convince the candidates of a job change, sound arguments and a lot of tact are required. It is not unusual for a headhunter to need several attempts to find candidates who are both interested and qualified. Absolute discretion has top priority in his search. The headhunter presents the best profiles to his client. He now coordinates the interviews and advises both parties.

Remuneration model in headhunting

The fees of personnel consultants and headhunters cannot be lump-sum, as they are usually based on the annual target salary of the candidates placed. The percentage varies depending on the scope and difficulty of the search. Factors that influence this include career level, position, industry, country and region. Usually, fee rates between 20% and 30% are agreed. Even salary-independent fixed or minimum fees are not uncommon in headhunting. In executive search for very high-ranking executives, the fee rates can rise above 30%.

Areas of application for headhunters

Headhunters are typically employed by recruitment consultancies or recruitment agencies offering executive search or direct search. With sufficient work experience, self-employment is also an option. Other jobs for headhunters would be employment agencies, temporary employment agencies, other applicant selection service providers and management consultancies. Some headhunters are also employed directly in the HR department of a company from the business sector.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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