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What is a headhunter and how do they work?

Headhunting can give organizations a competitive edge when it comes to approaching industrial talent to secure senior-level positions within a business.

Headhunters are also known as executive search recruiters and there are many benefits to hiring a headhunter to fill open roles in your organization.

If you need to quickly fill a niche or executive position, you may find using a headhunter beneficiary. But what is a headhunter and how do they work?

What is a headhunter?

A headhunter is an executive search recruiter who specializes in identifying and approaching industry-leading talent to fill niche senior-level open job roles. Unlike the traditional recruitment process, headhunters actively seek and approach talented individuals to help companies fill specific jobs.

Their job is about more than just filling a position and requires them to identify top talent within the industry with the desired qualifications and experience to succeed in a senior role required by the client.

Headhunters are usually hired by their clients to find and target suitable and relevant passive candidates to fill vacancies within a company. Passive candidates are experts in the industry who are not actively seeking new opportunities and are already in employment elsewhere.

Successful headhunters are experts at networking and have an in-depth understanding of working industries which allows them to have exclusive access to talent pools and pipelines.

How do headhunters work?

Headhunters tend to be third-party recruiters who are paid on a contingency basis. However, in some cases, organizations may have internal headhunters in their human resources department.

If you are looking to hire a specialist and skilled headhunter, the first thing to do is reach out to an executive search firm.

Analyze the role

Once the headhunter has been granted permission to work on the placement, they will begin the analyze the details of the open role and assess the skills, traits, and qualifications required for the job listed by the client.

Headhunters aim to provide premium candidates for high-level roles so they must precisely understand the needs and wants of the hiring company.

In order to approach the best potential candidates, the headhunter must acquire great knowledge of the industry and local talent.

Source candidates

Once the job description has been finalized the headhunter can begin to source candidates suitable for the role.

Senior-level roles are typically much harder to recruit due to a smaller pool of talent with the required qualifications, skills, and characteristics.

However, headhunters have an exclusive network of industry professionals and can search through referrals, competitors, and social media to access their executive contacts.

Create a candidate shortlist

When all considered candidates have been interviewed and screened, headhunters can create a candidate shortlist including those with an established interest in the role and the best potential.

This list is then handed to the client or organization so they can conduct final interviews. In some cases, headhunters will also organize client interviews and assist during the onboarding process.

If you are an executive search industry professional seeking a new opportunity, take a look at our live roles here.

If you are an organization looking to hire niche talent, get in touch with us today.