How To Select a Headhunter

One would find the services of a headhunter invaluable while looking for a job or looking to change jobs or looking to fill vacancies - the reason being that you get better results faster when you work with the right headhunter. The need to identify and choose a headhunter comes as each headhunter approaches their job differently, they have different job sectors or industry, which they cater to, and their standards of recruitment are different and so forth.

So how does one go about selecting a headhunter who is right for one?

I Select a headhunter who services the industry you are looking to be involved in.

(a) The industry that you are in may have a chamber of commerce which could help by giving a list of such headhunters that they are serviced by; or

(b) Access a directory of professional recruiters, they have listings by location and by careers; or,

(c) Check online for headhunters.

II What are the services they provide while being engaged by you? Some services, which can be rendered by a headhunter, are the following:

  • a. Some headhunters pre-screen applications for the client and remove the ones that are definitely not a ‘fit' for the role concerned. The headhunter's role in pre-screening is important, as this is the initial test of role fit and the aspirant's perception fit.
  • b. Some others will have access, by virtue of networking and being in the industry for a long time, to the top-end potential employees who will need to be proactively sought out for employment.
  • c. Some have negotiation skills which they put to use and help in the closure of the negotiation process during the final stages of the recruitment process.

III What are the fees charged by the headhunter and are they in line with the services he renders and comparable to the industry standards?

IV Use only one firm for a set of roles. Prospective employees can get annoyed at getting calls for the same role in the same organization by different agencies.

V A headhunter with proven methods of effective recruitment (word of mouth / network) is preferable to another who needs to advertise heavily and screen many applications to find the right candidate.

VI The time taken by the headhunter for finding the candidate is of essence while choosing the headhunter. The headhunter will know the time frame that will be taken to fill different kinds of roles and will deliver on it.

VII After every interaction with the headhunter, you should ask for feedback - if you are a role aspirant and are using this person to get your ideal job.

VIII Get to know the headhunter by sitting with him and talking to him. Find out:

  • The length of service of the headhunter,
  • The process he follows to identify, screen and negotiate with candidates,
  • The level of satisfaction or otherwise of the clients who have been serviced by this headhunter,
  • The span of time the clients have been with the headhunter,
  • The number of times clients have used the headhunter,
  • Any previous experience in comparable searches,
  • How will the billing be, etc.

The importance of personal chemistry in this whole relationship and process cannot be underestimated. A headhunter who makes a candidate or an employer feel comfortable with him/her, their services and the way they function is more likely to be a fit for your work than another with whom there is no such chemistry.


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