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Question about headhunters

#1 Question about headhunters
15/01/2010 09:37


Do headhunters often have targets such as the number of candidates they must meet each week?

I am starting to lose count with the number of "headhunters" who call me up about some non-specific "opportunity" and then insist on meeting me. Then, when I (foolishly) agree to meet them, they start asking me questions about why I'm looking to move (even though they were the ones that invited me in for a "chat" about some supposed fantastic opportunity....!), what I'm looking for, and it turns out that actually they didn't really have anything in mind in the first place.

Can anyone explain or shed light on what might be going on here?

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#2 RE: Question about headhunters
15/01/2010 10:59

Recruiter to Steve (#1)

Headhunters rarely have targets like that. Crappy recruitment agencies often do though, so it's one or more of three things.

1. Crap recruiter/admin person wasting your time to either get out of the office or hit their meeting target.

2. Crap recruiter/admin person with nothing better to do, meeting up only to get leads out of you

3. Headhunter who specialises in your area meeting to find out what you're all about and make sure you're someone they would present to their clients.

Worth clarifying beforehand with the recruiter. I often meet people who I have heard are good without having a particular role in mind. Sometimes I will present a couple of options in the middle of the meeting, sometimes it will be later, sometimes if the candidate is no good it will be never.

A decent recruiter should tell you if it's just an exploratory chat.

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#3 RE: Question about headhunters
15/01/2010 11:40

Mars A Day to Steve (#1)


Weeds grow in every garden.

A 'proper' HH, let alone a successful one, simply won't have time to meet people for some vague chat. Like Recruiter I occasionally - and it is very infrequent - will meet someone for an exploratory chat, but never a new contact, I'll only do that with someone I already know who may be at a critical juncture and need the time.

A properly mandates HH won't waste too much time in telling you who the client is, what the opportunity is etc: they need to close you off (i.e. get your buy in and commitment) early in the process, and if they do have that mandate they should be happy to discuss who it is with. Nothing vague there. If I am not working on a specific mandate to discuss for an individual I know I can work with, I'll discuss where and in what firms/practices I have in roads or warm contact and explain I can broker an introduction, or even suggest places to approach directly without my involement.

Also a HH will be more interested to understand how you could be motivated to move, looking for points of push/pull in your current situation - much of the work is in getting you to buy in and keeping that going. If they have been transparent and honest from the first contact that should not be a problem. The last time I was approached (HHs do get headhunted too) this young kid starting grilling me - so I turned it round and told them they approached me, sell their client to ME.

Take control of these conversations is the message here Steve: actually a good HH will want you to - what I aim to do is facilitate as an advocate, negotiator etc but I should be in the background from day one. If you can take the initiative to manage the process and let me get on with the back room stuff everyone winds up happy. Even me, and I'm a grumpy g1t most of the time.

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#4 RE: Question about headhunters
15/01/2010 16:03

Ruth B to Mars A Day (#3)

I have to agree with Mars A Day here - ( esp. about the grumpy bit). I get lots of consultants coming to me directly looking to move and would only headhunt for a very specific opportunity - I've people who want me to punt them out to the market (in a target and select way obv.) and am not about to spend time aquiring more rather than focusing on real requirements.

It may be that you are speaking to more junior consultants hwho are meeting people as a learning experience or to new agencies who will need to get candidates on board to open doors.....

just say no Steve!

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#5 RE: Question about headhunters
18/01/2010 08:14

Steve to Ruth B (#4)

Thanks for the comments guys. The guy I met was a 'director' of a reasonably big "firm of headhunters" but seemed to be totally full of himself. I just have no idea why they would arrange meetings with people on the vague promise of a "really great opportunity", ask them 100 questions about what they want, then turn the situation around and start asking questions about "why are you looking to move" and so on, then STILL not get specific about this supposed "opportunity" by the end of the meeting, even when asked direct questions.

Part of the problem is that they seemed so reputable and geunine at first. I don't know the McKinsey of the recruitment world from the [insert name of bad MC firm here] of the recruitment world, so how can I check who is good and who is bad before I start spending too much time on these people?

Are there ovbious things do to, such as refuse to meet unless they actually name a name or send a job description or job advert first?

I'm sure you guys know all the tricks... so please do share!

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#6 RE: Question about headhunters
18/01/2010 12:16

Mars A Day to Steve (#5)

Steve I don't know any 'tricks' and I'm sure RuthB and Recruiter don't either - tricks are for cowboys.

A genuine HH should be able to outline the following:

Client: who it is, which part/practice/business line etc. Who is the sponsor or operational line of report? Their relationship with them? Have they met them?

Context: how is the client/business line etc differentiated from closest competitors? What has happended to enable new hiring to be signed off? Pipeline of the business line?

Rewards: how does the client band? how would these bands overlap onto other bands which you may be more familiar with? salary range?

Insights: what can the HH tell you that would give you the edge? do they know the internal culture, recent moves, high profile rainmakers internally? will talking with them align you to successful and influential stakeholders in the business or will you be going in cold through a HH who is an unknown quantity to the firm? What do THEY (the HH) think makes a good MC at that firm?

Etc etc.

I could go on but you get the idea.

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#7 RE: Question about headhunters
18/01/2010 12:23

Lets try to Steve (#5)

Hello Steve,

Why not disclosing the company and contact names to this forum. I am pretty sure if you do this, they will come back to you very quickly offering apologies in an attempt to 'clear' their 'reputation'

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#8 RE: Question about headhunters
21/01/2010 14:09

Mars A Day to Steve (#5)

Steve avoid the 'Mckinseys' of recruitment - the reality is that McKinsey is great at extracting value, and will happily show you how to cut your own spleen out and sell it online if its profitable, but not so hot on value creation or value protection. Translate that to recruitment and you become just another fee.

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#9 RE: Question about headhunters
22/01/2010 07:48

Steve to Mars A Day (#8)

Well one thing's for sure, this "McKinsey of the recruiting world" certainly didn't add any value for me.

I mean, what sort of person invites somebody in for a meeting basically under false pretences, and then has no end outcome in mind?

I would have got better career advice from a 5 minute phone call to my nan.

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#10 RE: Question about headhunters
22/01/2010 08:26

Mars A Day to Steve (#9)

She probably told you never talk to strange men. Most of whom seem to work in recruitment firms.

Self excepted obviously.

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