A Comprehensive Guide to Headhunting for HR Professionals

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a comprehensive guide to headhunting for HR professionals

One of the most complicated tasks of an HR personnel is recruiting. Recruiting entails a lot of research, background checks, and interviews. However, the most important thing to look at is how well the candidate will fit the job and the environment. While these two things may seem easy to determine, it’s a relatively complicated process of matching the candidate with the job and the company.

The complexity of recruitment is compounded, especially when looking for candidates in technical and managerial roles, as the talent pool is significantly smaller. Finding highly skilled candidates for top-level positions is so challenging that it’s called an entirely different process—headhunting recruitment.

Here’s an infographic to explain this concept further, help you have a better grasp, and provide headhunting tips for recruiters.

What is the Role of Corporate Headhunters?

While recruitment and headhunting sound similar, they differ in who they look for. While recruiters look for qualified talent from a list of applicants and active jobseekers, headhunters find individuals who meet the specific criteria and job requirements for senior and management roles, even if they’re not actively looking for a job.

  • Hiring for technical and hard-to-fill positions

Headhunters are specialists. Companies hire them to look for candidates with a specific skill set that can match the position. Usually, these roles are highly technical and require years of training and experience—think data scientists, information security analysts, or software developers.

Headhunters look for talents that suit these hard-to-fill positions the best, sometimes through more aggressive hiring methods.

  • Finding talent in specialized and niche industries

As mentioned, headhunters look for a specific person. In a niche industry, the talent pool is often small; thus, the competition to attract candidates for these roles is intense. A headhunter needs certain mastery and specialization in these areas to provide quality candidates.

  • Filling in urgent vacant positions

Headhunters can be contracted by companies when they urgently need to fill positions. They are experienced in dealing with time constraints. As a headhunter, you should know how to aggressively pursue and convince candidates to take the vacant positions quickly.

  • Recruiting for senior-level and C-suite roles

The top players in the industry, like senior managers and the C-suite, are far and few in between. Most of all, they are notoriously hard to persuade to leave their cushy jobs at the top and need more aggressive methods to secure, which headhunters are good at. 

The Hunting Grounds: Where Headhunters Source Candidates

Headhunters need to start somewhere. Your job is to scour and see where talents are to get the most qualified candidates. To help you with your search, try these platforms.

  • Online Professional Networks

These online professional networks are platforms where thousands of professionals sign up and connect. They are like social media platforms where they can connect, message, post, and update their profiles for the whole network to see.

If you plan to utilize these networks, the first thing you need to do is search and filter out your candidates. Do this by inputting the job title and other related keywords. Once you have the results, connect with them to see if their experiences and achievements match the requirements of the position. Lastly, contact them on the platform and take the negotiations from there.

  • Networking Events

Industry events are great places to connect with specific people. They are tailored to encourage people in the industry to attend. It’s a chance for professionals to get in touch with key people in the industry, among others. You’ll meet hiring managers and potential candidates at these events directly or connect with other recruiters who may recommend an applicant to you and vice versa.

  • Job Boards and Career Sites

Job boards are great for bringing in candidates. However, these job boards don’t usually have a filter for who can send in their application, so you have to deal with unqualified applicants occasionally and sift through the submissions to get to the qualified ones. If the applications get too overwhelming, you can always search on your own for qualified candidates in the database and contact them there.

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

An applicant tracking system is a great way to pool your candidates. Chances are, you’ve already gotten some great applicants in the past who’ve vetted and interviewed. ATS minimizes spending on boosting a job ad and time looking through towers of resumes. 

  • Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are great for job matching because employees know the business and the referral they are trying to bring in inside-out. It is said that employee referrals increase the likelihood of a job match by 2.6–6.6% and that 45% of employees hired through referrals tend to stay with the company for more than four years.

A Brief Overview of the Headhunting Process

The headhunting process involves finding candidates with the right skills and experience and seeing if their personalities fit the job. Here is a short explanation of each step of the process.

  • Analyze the company’s staffing needs

Before coming up with a list of potential candidates, you must understand what the company needs—the role that needs to be filled, the job description, the fine details of the contract, and if the candidate and the company will match in terms of culture and work ethic.

  • Proactively source candidates

There are various areas where you can find information. As a headhunter, it’s your job to look for the best person. You can do this by digging through referrals, searching for those holding similar roles in other companies, going to events, using social media, and more. Don’t settle for a single source; know where your candidates are.

  • Screen and select viable individuals

After gathering and listing your possible candidates, narrow it down by qualification to find who will fit the position the best. It may be helpful to use a resume screening tool to speed up this process.

  • Reach out and negotiate with candidates

After creating a shortlist, reach out to them and set up appointments. This is when you’ll know who are interested in the position.

  • Shortlist highly qualified candidates

When you’ve made some calls and have done screenings and background checks, shortlist your prime candidates for the employer to see.

Becoming a Good Headhunter: 6 Best Practices

It can be difficult to figure out which methods work best to source the top candidates. Luckily, there are best practices you can implement. Check out the list below.

  1. Use relevant recruiting and candidate screening tools

A remarkable thing about technology is its ease of use. Recruitment technology and tools have become more sophisticated, and so have the candidates they source. With the help of technology, you can easily scour the internet for relevant keywords and pieces of information that will be helpful to your search, making the process easier. 

  1. Continually develop and nurture contacts and talents 

Not all leads and contacts turn into candidates. Just because a contact doesn’t fit the position today doesn’t mean they won’t fit in any of the roles you’ll be filling. Remember to regularly keep in touch with your contacts, so they don’t slip through the net. When the time comes that they fit the role, you’ll be confident that you’ve built enough rapport with them that they trust you with this position.

  1. Become an industry insider

Looking for someone to fill senior-level positions is not for the newbies. You can’t afford to waste your time with candidates who don’t have the proper knowledge for the role. Take the time to become an expert in a particular industry. Doing this ensures that you waste less time, stick to your timeline and target the right person the first time.

  1. Leverage social media

Good headhunters will go where their candidates are. They would go as far as contacting them on social media platforms or wherever else they are most active. Doing this allows the candidate to feel more at ease because you’re engaging with them on a platform that they are most comfortable with.

  1. Join and host industry events

Events are a way to gather professionals and specialists within an industry. With events, you as a headhunter can reach candidates in a slightly laid-back atmosphere than during a traditional job interview where nerves are high. Furthermore, such meetings allow companies to contact with potential candidates face-to-face.

  1. Monitor and evaluate successful candidates

Hiring shouldn’t be the end of your relationship with your applicant. Headhunting is a beginning-to-end process wherein, after handing off the candidate, it’s still your job to ensure that they’re adjusting well to the company and that the company finds the recruit satisfactory.

Your success as a headhunter rests in whether or not the two parties mesh together well, so make sure to monitor and evaluate your successful candidates.

Source the Right People

Headhunting, though similar in concept to recruitment, entails a more specific criterion for sourcing. It’s best to do thorough research to see whether or not you hand off a qualified candidate. Your job is not only to provide the company with a lead but also to ensure that the candidate is satisfied with the company.

It isn’t easy to source the right candidate, especially for a highly-technical position. Your best bet is to contact a professional agency to help you. Manila Recruitment, a recruitment agency in the Philippines, offers specialized headhunting services. We’ll help you source the right candidate for managerial and executive positions. Contact Manila Recruitment today for your executive search and headhunting needs.