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What is headhunting and recruiting? Differences you need to now

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Rachita Jain

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People often confuse the recruitment and headhunting processes with each other. This confusion is mainly because some use these terms interchangeably. But are they really interchangeable? If not, what is the difference between a recruiter and a headhunter?

In case you are wondering, "should I hire a headhunter?", you should read this article and decide for yourself.

Let's start by defining the terms 'headhunting' and 'recruitment', to understand the difference between a recruiter and a headhunter.

What is headhunting?

“In headhunting or 'executive search,' candidates are recruited for top positions in the company. Headhunting recruiting is usually executed by the board of directors, HR, external executive recruiters, or headhunters.”

What is the meaning of headhunter?

“A headhunter is a person or a company that conducts job recruitment on behalf of an employer. The role of a headhunter is to locate talent and find people who fit specific job requirements for a company.”

Process of headhunting

  • Headhunting is a very proactive process.
  • In headhunting recruiting, agents are always looking for the ideal candidate for higher-level positions.
  • Recruitment headhunters do this regardless of the targeted candidates actively seeking employment elsewhere.

Strategies to make your headhunting process more effective

1. A thorough investigation of the candidate

Headhunters must carry out investigations as part of their process as soon as possible. Headhunters need to remember that they will be hiring for a senior position and therefore, they must take an in-depth look at the candidate.

  • Remember that the chosen person will likely have more authority than the majority of the staff at your organization.
  • You must perform in-depth research and investigate the credibility of the candidate.
  • Make sure that the candidate has extensive knowledge of their area. The candidate must possess exceptional skills or accomplishments.

2. Company's vision

You can not expect talented candidates to leave their current jobs for a lesser-known company than their current one, can you? If they are aware of your company's vision and ideas, the chances get higher that the candidates will listen to your offer and join your company.

  • To achieve this, you will need to invest time and money into developing your employer brand.
  • Make a brand strategy that covers as many sources as you can.
  • Connect with your candidate and build a relationship before discussing your company's exposure.
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3. A balance between enthusiasm and pushiness

In your conversations with skilled candidates, do you ever find yourself being a little pushy for no real reason? Have you ever considered how you might be able to change this? It's all about being passionate without being pushy or persistent.

  • You must provide the candidate with the option if they want to decline the offer. It would be best to find a unique way to recruit without constantly bothering them.
  • You must remember that you are presenting your company and its culture whenever you speak with your ideal candidate. It says a lot about your workplace culture if you are overly pushy and never seem to accept 'NO' for an answer.

Being overly pushy suggests that you have goals hanging over your head. Refusing to accept 'NO' as an answer indicates that missing those goals will have serious consequences. You should avoid presenting a high-pressure work environment to impress your ideal candidate.

4. Follow up

Headhunting and sales are very much alike. There will be many NOs that you hear. Many people choose to remain in a job they hate rather than accept a new challenge. Hence, it becomes crucial to follow up with your ideal candidates.

Building a professional rapport with your candidate is crucial. However, follow-up should be balanced. You must know the difference between following up with a candidate and bugging one. You don't want to annoy a candidate who isn't sure if they would want to get the job.

You can inform them about the value of a strong corporate culture rather than pitching them on your company's workplace culture. Tell the candidate how your perks and benefits will improve their productivity and efficiency.

5. Candidate verification

Candidate verification is the most overlooked aspect of headhunting recruiting. If you are actively looking into the candidate, it becomes apparent that some will have a brilliant resume or CV. Surprisingly, even people with extensive experience and higher on the corporate ladder will exaggerate and give false information.

  • You can always contact a candidate's references if you want to avoid asking them directly about the accuracy of the information.
  • It is crucial to confirm each candidate before moving forward with the "offer."
  • It can help you find and hire the best employees for your company and increase your reliability.

Using headhunting as a recruiting strategy can be effective if you analyze the kind of role and candidate you are looking for for the position.

Let's look at the recruitment process to see how it differs from headhunting now that we have a general understanding of what is headhunting.

What is recruitment?

“Recruitment is recruiting individuals to join a company as new employees. Recruiters or the recruitment process involve looking for a competent and suitable match for the firm. But their duties are not only limited to headhunting or headhunters.”

Typically, when we use the term recruitment, we refer to something other than hiring top-tier management. "Recruitment" is a process of screening candidates for open positions below the executive level. The typical recruitment process includes everything from hunting talent to onboarding them.

Process of recruitment

The hiring process is different for every company or organization. Here are some essential stages of the recruitment process:

  • Set the hiring criteria
  • Create a recruitment plan
  • Make a job description
  • Advertising the position
  • Hiring for the position
  • Initial screening
  • Background verification
  • Reference check
  • Employment offer
  • Hiring/Onboarding

Ways you can optimize your recruitment process

1. Taking less time

The Roberthalf study revealed that 57% of candidates lose interest in the process if it takes too long. Three-quarters of these job seekers say waiting 7-14 days for a job is too long. Therefore, make your interview schedule quicker.

  • Also, keep candidates updated from time to time while maintaining quality.
  • Adding immediate response buttons for candidates can help speed up the recruitment process.
  • You can also test candidates before interviews to see whether their talents match the needed skills.

2. Strenuous hunt for the perfect match

Finding the right match for a position is a major issue for all businesses, whether big or small. Most of the time, candidates with different skillset from the required roles are shortlisted. This will not only cause delays but will also weaken your company's credibility if misfit individuals manage to get the job.

Conduct in-depth research to avoid inconsistencies. Hold discussions with all the departments to maximize your job description.

3. Employer branding

No matter how competitive your industry's pay and benefits are, they mean nothing if you don't have a strong and unique employer brand.

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Employer brand is so much more than a paycheck. It is how clients or job seekers perceive your company. Employer brand refers to company culture, employee engagement, perks, benefits, etc.

  • Here, creating an excellent workplace culture and motivating your staff can help.
  • There are so many "cool places to work" emerging start-ups nowadays that great work culture is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
  • If you want to improve both the candidate and customer experiences, try to blend the employer brand plan with the company's brand strategy.

Recruiter vs headhunter

1. The variety of jobs

This is one of the most significant differences in comparing a recruiter vs a headhunter.

Headhunters typically concentrate on a small number of positions. Usually, a headhunter's focus is only on the current situation. Top management or board members usually engage in the headhunting process. They aim to fill executive-tier or corner office positions. The positions are challenging to fill and usually call for a highly skilled candidate or someone at the top of his field.

On the other side, recruiters are responsible for the company's complete employment process. Recruiters typically handle the lower layer of hiring. It includes entry-level or middle-manager positions. They frequently hire for various roles, and their abilities are often similar. Recruiters are employed and have extensive industry experience or exposure.

2. Nature of the work

Recruitment headhunters perform only one type of job for the majority of the time. The Chief Technology Officer will likely participate in the headhunting recruiting with the board of directors, for example, if your company wants to hire a head of R & D. The CEO and not the Chief Technology Officer should be involved if the position of marketing director is open. A headhunter's job ends when the position is filled.

Recruiters are typically employed for the exclusive purpose of hiring and any related activities.

Recruitment involves the entire employment process of a company and includes the job posting, candidate interaction, hiring, and onboarding of new hires. Recruiters work for the company on a full-time basis.

3. In-demand skills

Recruitment involves hiring entry-level or middle-level managers. Therefore, it calls for a wide range of skill sets from the candidates. For a large company, there are 100s of potential candidates. The standout candidate is someone who can do a bit of everything. A candidate with a broad skill set not only blends in well with the rest of the staff but is also adaptable and can be moved between departments.

When it comes to headhunters or headhunting, the ideal candidate should be well-versed in his field. Apart from that, he should also have a versatile skillset. These candidates are expected to do their tasks and serve as role models in their community.

4. Networking

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While recruitment headhunters frequently have excellent networks, they often focus on a single area of expertise. For instance, a headhunter's network is probably restricted to the tech sector for the head of R&D position. A headhunter typically has a far deeper and more insightful network than a recruiter.

Recruiters have a more extensive network compared to headhunters. That is because recruiting has broader and more varied employment domains. Recruiters are responsible for filling a lot of vacancies and therefore, they need a lot of relationships across departments. Being skilled in multiple fields is okay when it comes to recruitment. However, whether you also need to be a master of each transaction depends on the sort of company you are working with. It also depends on how difficult the position is.

5. Required time

Recruiters only have a little time to spend on each candidate because of the large candidate pool. In the case of recruitment, quantity is as important as quality. For instance, for a typewriter’s job, you need quality for sure, but you also need quantity to get done with the work within the timeline.

In the case of headhunters, quality is prioritized over quantity. Headhunters must find the best in the field and a given skill set. The entire headhunting process, from talent scouting to rapport-building to a successful hire, takes a lot of time. Sometimes headhunters will spend months on a candidate only to change their minds due to just a minor deviation from the required skill set. Before concluding a deal, headhunters must identify the ideal fit.

RecruiterHeadhunter
Variety of jobsRecruiters are responsible for the company's complete employment process. Headhunters typically concentrate on a small number of positions.
Hiring for positionsRecruiters typically handle the lower layer of hiring i.e., entry-level or middle-manager positions. They aim to fill executive-tier positions
Nature of work Recruiters are employed for the exclusive purpose of hiring and any related activities. Recruiters work for the company on a full-time basis. Recruitment headhunters perform only one type of job for the majority of the time. A headhunter's job ends when the position is filled.
Skills neededIt calls for a wide range of skill sets from the candidates. When it comes to headhunters or headhunting, a candidate is expected to be a master in their particular field, despite having other skills.
Building networksRecruiters typically have a more extensive network compared to headhunters. Because they have a lot of positions and vacancies to fill, recruiters need a lot of relationships across departments. While recruitment headhunters frequently have excellent networks, they often focus on a single area of expertise. A headhunter typically has a far deeper network than a recruiter, even though they may have a smaller overall network.
Required timeRecruiters only have a little time to spend on each candidate because of the large candidate pool. Headhunters must find the best in the field and a given skill set. The entire headhunting process takes a lot of time.
Quality/QuantityQuantity is equally important as quality.Quality is prioritized over quality.

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