Advice for Headhunters!

First of all, as a former Executive Search Professional, I don’t mind having been called a “headhunter”and I hope that you aren’t offended by my using the term.

I appreciate that the headhunting profession can be difficult. Basically it consists of “process work” – i.e., it involves essentially the same process being applied to every search. Such a process includes (among other things):

  • Careful writing of a position specification
  • Research for appropriate sources and prospective candidates
  • Sourcing calls to individuals who might be able to suggest candidates
  • Calls to prospective candidates
  • Interviewing and screening candidates
  • Writing a coherent and readable description/resume for the candidate to present to the client
  • Conducting extensive reference calls on each candidate presented to clients
  • Assisting in negotiating the final compensation package
  • Closing the deal

These are detailed tasks by themselves, and a typical headhunter may have many searches underway in different phases at any moment – so the job becomes one of carefully managing time and effort.

My own observations of how various executive search professionals conduct searches leads me to the following conclusions:

  • Many executive searches do not stipulate the “critical skills” necessary for the position
  • Many executive search professionals do not have the requisite training to assess critical skill competencies
  • Many executive search professionals do not understand or believe that the “best candidate” for a position may NOT be the one who is “good at” most of the requirements of the position. (Translated: Candidates who would be on top of a “Doom Loop” are generally NOT the best candidates. Put another way – overqualified people don’t necessarily make for long-lasting placements.)

The solution?

  • You can ignore my conclusions or disagree with them completely;
  • You can learn a little bit about the “Critical Skills” and how to interview individuals to assess their levels of competency in each of them;
  • You can learn a little bit about the “Doom Loop” to assist you in understanding if a particular position might be “right” for both the candidate AND the client;
  • You can use the “Doom Loop” to develop a constructive and convincing argument why a candidate might seriously consider a position for which you are conducting a search;
  • You can do whatever you please!

 I wish all of you the very best of luck and success!

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