What is Headhunting?

What is Headhunting?

And is it really a different recruitment option?

Recruitment is a headache. That’s the cliché you know from personal experience. All c-suite professionals will be familiar with the sense of banging their head against a Recruitment Brick Wall. This is particularly true in the IT industry where there’s a skills shortage.

It needn’t be that way. However, we know you’ve heard this too. That makes you cynical.

Yet, here’s the clinch: you’ve heard that before by run-of-the-mill recruitment agencies. They speak the speak but have no intention of doing anything differently. They are imposters. They claim they are headhunters, but in reality they are just another recruitment agency doing things for a fast buck. They are the ultimate sales people.

True headhunting, that’s what you need to track down. This isn’t to say there aren’t honourable recruitment agencies who take a headhunting approach. But the term ‘headhunter’ gets used too easily when that’s really not what’s happening. Let’s explain.

What is headhunting and why do you need it?

First up, you need a clear definition of ‘headhunting’. Be clear on this and you can sort the wheat from the chaff.

The recruitment agency

A typical recruitment agency is a bridge between you and a delectable and deep pool of candidates. It’s about a numbers game. They match your job spec with candidate skills and hey presto, you get a raft of interview options. It’s enticing but it’s not particularly clever. It’s all about awesome databases.

It also has its place. More junior and less pivotal roles which are two-a-penny are pretty easily filled, and successfully, through standard recruitment.

Why recruitment agencies fail

However, you start to hit a snag when the roles get more senior. These roles are more influential to business success. They are drivers of the business. Then, in IT particularly, you get to add in a double whammy: an industry skills shortage.

Standard recruitment simply doesn’t work here. You may end up with a smattering of interviews. You may also end up with an individual in the role that ticks some of your boxes. However, you don’t necessarily have the best of the best. You don’t have the X-factor individual you actually need for future success. The standard recruitment pool has become limiting.

The headhunter

Instead, a headhunter jumps out of the pool and goes in search of who you really need, not who is available.

The reason for this is that what you are really after when recruiting senior IT roles and the like, is someone already demonstrating their capabilities and attributes. Most of the time, these aren’t active candidates swimming around in the candidate pool. They are engaged and currently adding value elsewhere.

The headhunter’s job is to use their database as a springboard only. Before they even jump they fully assess your vacant position and identify what you truly need to propel your business. They track down the X-factors you need, not the job spec that’s limiting.

Then the true headhunter uses their intimate industry knowledge to work out exactly which individuals fit that bill. Next they get to work on positioning them to make the move to you.

Getting recruitment right really matters

This is particularly important when you consider that the statistics of getting this wrong are shocking.  For example, making a recruitment mis-step at mid-level manager level (£42,000 salary) can cost a business in excess of £132,000. It doesn’t bear thinking about how much it costs when you make a mistake at the executive level.

That’s before we factor in that your headache has become a full-blown migraine as you try to juggle the logistics of a recruitment failure.

The headhunting process

This means that the most skilled recruiters know when it’s appropriate to take a headhunting approach.  (We do this most of the time for senior and executive positions.)  These are the types of recruiters who genuinely do remove that Recruitment Brick Wall – and alleviate the headache.

So, what does headhunting look like in practice?

Look a little below the surface of a recruiter’s language and processes and you’ll now be able to sniff out the headhunting imposters. A recruitment process using the successful approach of headhunting should include some key elements:

  • Time and research: recruitment should be about identifying what you need in the role rather than pushing a square peg in to a round hole.
  • A focus on behaviours, intelligence, and motivation.  Technical skills can be taught, but personal qualities need to be already evident.

The initial research stage is the most time-consuming, which is why headhunters will charge an up-front non-refundable fee (usually a third of the final recruitment fee).

At Blues Point we have developed a headhunting process specifically suited for the IT industry, with its current skills shortages. Our headhunting process is suitable for c-suite recruiters of senior IT roles, or those needing to recruit c-suite executives themselves such as CIO or CTO.

Our process enables us to get under the skin of your organisation to ascertain the attributes needed which are unique to your business – not just the technical background needed. This is possible only through a refined headhunting process.

For this, you need to avoid the recruitment race you engage in when you get standard agencies on the case.

Top notch recruitment isn’t about fastest. It’s about best. So, first look out for a retained basis recruitment procedure, as you’ll find at Blues Point. You want your recruiter working solely for you, with utmost dedication to your success.

Then you want to look out for other particular procedural must-haves. All of these should indicate a great deal of legwork being done – and not by you. There should be advanced recruitment tools, such as personality profiling and EQ (emotional intelligence) assessment, such as TEIQue.  Using these tools gives you an objective view of the candidates you meet, with reports that allow meaningful comparisons between them.  You’ll have a better idea of what makes each interviewee tick, and you’ll be able to make a more informed business decision at the end of the process.

There’s more to it, of course.  See the Blues Point process here.

Remove the IT recruitment headache

When undertaking IT recruitment, in the Midlands and London, we’re here to remove your recruitment brick wall. We’re about making sure you aren’t faced with yet another headache when you should be excited about driving your business forward.

To find out more about IT headhunting and how it’ll add value to your business, call us on 01283 530923.