11 Headhunting techniques recruitment teams use to secure candidates
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that finding high-quality candidates isn’t always a simple task for businesses. Traditional recruitment techniques, publishing a job advert and waiting for people to come to you, don’t work when you’re trying to fill a senior role like CEO, CFO or MD.
Capturing the attention of the high-calibre candidates you need requires a smarter way of recruiting. That’s where headhunting comes into play.
Also known as executive search, headhunting is a specialist recruitment service which takes the chance out of candidate attraction. Rather than hoping for the right candidate to come along, headhunters actively seek out the right people for your business. How? Well, that’s what this blog is here to explore...
1. Leveraging Existing Contacts
When headhunting for high-level roles, recruiters need to find candidates they can trust. That means prioritising quality over quantity, which can be time-consuming.
One technique that recruiters use to save time on sourcing appropriate candidates is to reach out to their existing network of candidates.
By contacting people who the recruiter already knows, the process becomes much easier and you can be confident that your recruitment agency has found you a great candidate before they even set foot in the interview room.
2. Becoming an Expert in Their Client's Industry
When looking to recruit for a senior role, you can’t afford to waste time with candidates that don’t have the required industry knowledge.
That’s why, unlike traditional recruiters, headhunters take the time to become experts in your business’s industry. This allows headhunters to target the right candidates first time.
So, if you’re looking for a recruitment agency to find executive candidates for you, make sure you take a moment to test their industry knowledge.
3. Building a Professional Relationship
As mentioned, unlike traditional recruitment, executive search requires searching for candidates who are not looking for another job. This makes building a professional relationship with candidates essential.
This starts before the potential candidate has even been approached. A headhunter will conduct his/her research ahead of time to determine their qualifications and suitability for the role.
This then allows your recruitment team to tailor their pitch to suit the candidate, which improves the chances that the potential candidate will be interested and ensures your business fills any high-level vacancies quickly.
4. Knowing When to Stop
There’s no doubting the value of headhunting. A headhunter is more likely to be able to persuade a potential candidate to consider a move than the prospective company approaching directly.
They take time to understand, advise and position a role with the candidate in a way that makes it attractive, selling the advantages of a role over their current position. This advice includes salary and remuneration, based on research and benchmarking of similar roles in the industry.
So, while the headhunter is best placed to nurture the candidate, there may be times the headhunter must consider and review their approach.
Because the majority of candidates contacted will currently be in a job and not actively be looking for other positions, it’s important to identify as quickly as possible whether they might be genuinely interested.
There’s no use in a recruiter chasing down a candidate for weeks, or even months when their lack of interest could have been identified at the very first point of contact. When it comes to spotting these poor-quality candidates quickly, there is no substitute for experience, so ensure you choose a recruitment agency that can prove their quality.
5. Reaching out on Social Media
LinkedIn has become a common part of the recruitment process, but it isn’t the only social media that is useful.
Good headhunters will contact the candidate on the social media platform that they are most active on. By finding them on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, executive recruiters are better able to attract candidates and engage with them on a platform where they are more comfortable.
6. Meeting the Candidate Face to Face
If the candidate who is being headhunted is currently employed, they will likely be hesitant to take a recruitment call at work and, since they are not actively looking for other jobs, may be unlikely to take a call at home.
Where traditional recruiters would miss out on these candidates, headhunters go the extra mile to find the right person, setting up face to face meetings after work or on their lunch breaks. This puts the candidate at ease and provides a better chance to discover whether they are the right fit for your business.
7. Being Believable
This is a key point. When conducting an executive search, high-value candidates don’t want their time wasted with speculative job opportunities. If the recruiter doesn’t believe that the candidate they’re contacting is right for the role, how will the candidate ever believe it themselves?
As recruiters, we make it clear to each candidate we approach that they are a perfect fit. And this isn’t just guesswork. Based on our research, we know that every person we talk to is the right fit for the job.
8. Nurturing Candidates
For a recruiter, effectively following up with a candidate can be the difference between securing their interest and falling out of their mind.
This nurturing process is something that headhunters have perfected. While a typical recruiter may be dealing with too many low-value candidates to follow up effectively, headhunters ensure no good candidate is ever left behind.
Regularly keeping in touch means that the candidate has more opportunity to consider the role and simply means that candidates who are not actively searching for a job don’t slip through the net.
9. Championing Transparency
We’ve all come across jobs that look a little too good to be true. This lack of honesty, unfortunately, leads to many candidates being sceptical about roles they’re offered. Headhunters understand this, which is why they champion transparency.
It makes sense. You wouldn’t want to be told about a job that sounded interesting but was completely different when you found out more about it, would you? Since headhunters are experts in your industry, they are well equipped to present job opportunities clearly and answer any questions accurately.
This gives the candidate confidence and ensures the recruitment process is a smooth one.
10. Networking with the Right People
It goes without saying that, when looking to source candidates who aren’t actively looking for another job, headhunters have to go beyond typical recruitment duties.
A great headhunting technique used by many of the best recruiters is to attend networking functions that their desired demographic will be attending. By approaching candidates in a space where they are not expecting to be headhunted, the recruiter is better able to build trusting, professional relationships that can then be turned into valuable candidates.
11. Improving Employer Branding
Branding is something that isn’t always considered in the recruitment process but one of the main reasons a candidate might decide not to take a job is because of the reputation of the prospective company.
Executive recruitment teams will work with you to ensure your brand gives off the best impression possible. High-calibre candidates are more likely to be interested in a role with a company they’ve heard good things about and it’s the job of the headhunter to manage their candidate’s perception of the employer’s brand.
Now you know some of the main headhunting techniques recruitment teams use to secure high-calibre candidates, it’s time to learn how you can benefit from them.