Hiring headhunters – pros and cons
Do you really need headhunters to replace that senior developer that just resigned? The answer is actually usually no. While there are certain skills and candidates that are very elusive and hard to find, headhunters need to prove themselves even more now that most of the talent field is easily accessible and needs only the right role and a persuasive approach to get on board.
Building up contacts and a pipeline of talent
By networking in the industry and building a talent pipeline over many years, companies faced with the resignation of a senior or “irreplaceable” staff member often react in the moment and think that paying big is fine for something so important. But what if you could hire the right replacement without spending all that money?
With a good idea of who works in different companies in your market, you should already know who to approach and get on the phone. Most often, at least one of them would consider making a move for some reason and a bit of digging will show you what that is.
Calculating the need
If you take the high fess headhunters charge (often 30% of the new hire’s annual salary or more), you should ask yourself whether for that amount you could spend some of your own time as a manager or pay your own HR/recruitment staff more to find the right person. One CEO I spoke to said when he needed a new Chief Technology Officer, he worked out that the fee would instead pay his HR Manager for five months, so he told her to drop everything and work solely on the position for one month and paid her a bonus on completion of the hire. She found the best person in two weeks.
If you choose hiring headhunters over finding the skills yourself as a company, make sure it’s worth the high cost. Sometimes it is, and with the correct headhunters you can get an excellent hire starting very soon and making a huge difference to your company’s bottom line.
But many a time, companies simply choose headhunters to solve an immediate need because it feels urgent and they panic. A long term approach will see firms hiring headhunters only when really necessary.
To end, I am not saying that headhunting is a dying skill. In fact, I believe it is the only part of the standard recruitment agency model that still works well. However, companies should think carefully about whether to use one or not and what value they bring.