Unlike professions such as the law where there are legal restrictions on who can call themselves a solicitor or barrister, unfortunately this is not the case in recruitment. Anyone, regardless of their skills, experience or qualifications can call themselves a headhunter and begin trading. Websites are simple and cheap to set-up as is a registered business address making it difficult sometimes to spot a real headhunter from those who are pretending to be one. If you choose the wrong one, it can be a decision that costs you both time and money. Here are four questions that you should be asking to ensure that you are working with an experienced and effective headhunter/executive recruiter.

  1. Are you a specialist or generalist?

One of the key differences between a general recruiter and a headhunter is that a headhunter is a specialist. They could be a specialist in a specific industry or they may specialise in a specific geographical area. Here at King Recruit, we have a very specific and defined specialisation: Executive roles in the Southwest area. Recruiting in the Southwest is very different to recruiting in places such as London and it’s vital that you have someone who understands the local job market and has lots of connections to utilise.

2. How do you recruit?

Headhunters and generalist recruiters operate in a different way. If they say that it’s a case of advertising the vacancy and then choosing the most suitable applicants, then this is not headhunting. While headhunters may advertise a vacancy, headhunting is a much more proactive task. Instead of waiting for people to apply for a position, headhunting is about identifying the perfect people for a role and seeking them out. It’s highly specialised and highly effective when done by the right person.

Often they conduct extensive research for each retained campaign, coupled with knowing their own network of professionals inside and out. A good head-hunter will know when professionals are ready to make that next move and can often be retained to advise you when CFO of Acme PLC is ready to start his or her search

3. What is your ideal business relationship?

General recruitment is usually done on a contingency basis. This means that the hiring company only pays a fee to the recruiter if they are successful in finding the ideal candidate. On the face of it, it sounds like a good deal for a company, many of whom utilise several agencies for the same vacancy in the hope that this will give them the best chance of getting the perfect person. However, it’s a actually a very inefficient way of working. When agencies work like this, they have to work on multiple vacancies at a time, meaning that they cannot devote a lot of time to each one.

Headhunting, or executive recruitment, is done differently. Here, a partial fee is paid upfront with the remainder being paid upon the successful completion of the recruitment process. This means that the recruiter has far more time to work on the vacancy and do all the work necessary to get the right person for the role. It’s a far more efficient and effective way to recruit, especially for more senior roles.

4. What’s your USP?

Any specialist headhunter will be more than happy to show you and talk you through some case studies. Seeing how they have helped other companies with their recruitment needs is an excellent way of distinguishing a professional headhunter from someone with little or no recruitment expertise. In addition, they will often tie in other partnerships such as profiling/psychometric companies, leadership assessment companies and have a portfolio of testimonials to offer.

The methodology they use will be a lot more in-depth, and they will be able to present that to you in an effective and succinct way which demonstrates not their expertise, but their ability to deliver the right short-list of candidates.

If you’re looking to utilise the services of professional headhunters in the Southwest, get in touch today by calling Helen Plumridge MD. M: 07808 537696 E: helen@kingrecruit.com