10 Headhunting Tips for Effective Recruitment

headhunt keyboard target on head

Headhunting is one of the most effective recruitment strategies as it allows recruiters and hiring managers to target high potential candidates. As such, headhunting is the preferred method of recruitment for recruiting executives. But, despite how effective the technique is, few recruiters adopt it and even less successfully implement it. Headhunting often results in failure and awkwardness because of the inability of hiring managers to sound appealing and credible at the same time.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the ten best headhunting tips which will allow you to find the right candidate every time.

1. Research Your Potential Target

Headhunting is one of the most important duties of an external recruiter or hiring manager. Expectations of this method are high, so you need to be able to deliver a list of impressive candidates to the employer. You need to identify professionals who are not just good at what they do; they need to be exceptional.

Talk with other people in your network, use social media and Google to research their background and ensure that every single person on your list has the makings of a star before you hand in their name.

2. Increase the Company’s Visibility

Candidates are much more willing to switch jobs when they are going to a company that they know. To win them over you need to increase the company’s visibility so that when you do contact them they’ve already heard of you and will be more willing to listen to your pitch.

Make sure that the company invests in an employer brand strategy which targets many mediums, but even if this fails, connect with each candidate on LinkedIn and spend some time sharing and posting things from the company’s website.

3.  Establish an Initial Rapport

From the candidate’s perspective, headhunting is odd when it’s not done in a swift manner. You must admit that having someone approach you with a ‘wonderful’ job opportunity sounds a bit spammy, so consider a more tactful approach. Start by introducing yourself and the company. Talk about why you’ve chosen to represent this company and what it has recently achieved. This will generate some interest from the person you are targeting and will make them more positive and open to your pitch.

4. Follow Up

Getting rejected by a candidate during the headhunting process is more common than you think. You’ll be surprised at the amount of people who’d rather stay in out in a job they hate than take on a new challenge.

Nevertheless, it’s important to cultivate a relationship and always follow up with these people as they might change their mind. When a candidate turns you down make sure that you take the time to express your regrets and ask for permission to contact them when another opportunity arises. Headhunting this way can be quite time-consuming, but it can pay dividends in the future.

5. Find a Balance Between Eager and Respectful

It stands to reason that when you approach someone with an opportunity you are going to be a little pushy. How pushy you want to be depends on how much you want to get the candidate onboard. In fact, there are times when you’re going to have to come up with creative recruitment strategies to even approach some candidates.

Although enthusiasm is essential, there’s also a bar to how pushy you can be. Respecting a candidate and giving them room to reject the offer is as important. Remember that each time you approach a candidate you’re representing company culture, and if you are too pushy, they are going to think that the company is a high-pressure environment which might make them think twice before applying.

6. Learn as Much as You Can About the Specific Role

Make sure that you know as much as possible about the role you’re recruiting for. Many recruiters go in blind not knowing anything except the requirements about the role, but when you’re headhunting you need to be able to identify high potential candidates  so you need to understand about how they excel at their jobs.

Make sure that you speak with the department’s manager each time and find out more about what the winning candidate will be expected to know and do and incorporate that information into your screening process.

7. Don’t Be Patronising

As we’ve discussed earlier, headhunters tend to be very patronising with candidates. Although this is generally true only for lower-ranking professionals, that does not mean that you can assume that you know what the candidate should do. Be enthusiastic about the opportunity, but allow space for the professional to process the offer. Avoid tight deadlines as they won’t work in your favour and make sure that you listen to what the candidate has to say and offer assistance to overcome any obstacles.

8. Give Feedback to Both Sides

It’s important to keep the communication lines open with both parties throughout the recruitment process. If you the employer has extremely high expectations, it’s your job to manage them. It’s also important that you provide your client with detailed information about the candidate and that you help them address the issues that matter. Similarly, you need to be in a position to help the candidate manage their expectations. Providing meaningful assistance during the interview preparation, for example, is essential.

9. Don’t Hesitate to Cold-Call

You’ll find that most people you come into contact with will be interested in what you have to say and how it can benefit them. Picking up the phone and cold-calling is always a good plan. To maximise its impact, I’d suggest that you try to establish some sort of relationship with each professional before you cold-call them. Connecting on LinkedIn is always a great place to start.

10. Verify Everything on a Candidate’s CV

Another great headhunting tip that can save you a lot of headache with the client is ensuring that everything on a candidate’s CV is correct. Although not everyone, many people in the workforce will lie about how long they’ve been in a position or about other details on their CV. To avoid having to confront the candidate or the client about such issues make sure that you verify everything on a professional’s CV and that you talk with their references ahead of the interview. Being thorough with each person can help you provide better quality candidates and make you more reliable in the future.

Headhunting can be a successful recruitment strategy as long as it’s done with consideration to the candidate. Making each candidate feel that it’s a truly wonderful opportunity for their career can increase your chances of success and allow you to find high potential candidates more easily.

What’s your secret for headhunting? Let us know in the comment section below.