Headhunting is an absolutely necessary practice in our industry. So essential, it coins our colloquial job title – headhunter. This is what we do: identify and approach suitable persons already employed elsewhere to fill open positions with our clients.
Headhunting validates our existence! To put it more pragmatically, our clients pay us, recruiters, formidable fees for introducing talent into their businesses that they cannot find themselves. Our service’s “value-added” component is to find and engage with passive talent and win it over. Headhunting is what good recruiters do all the time; it’s our bread and butter.
What I find bewildering is the attitude of some recruitment managers towards a highly proactive rec-to-rec agency headhunting staff from their ranks. Now, a crucial point here – if a particular Recruitment Agency is a fee-paying client, no rec-to-rec in their right mind would headhunt from there. Do not bite the hand that feeds you, as the saying goes.
On the other hand, if a Recruitment Agency is not a fee-paying client, it automatically becomes part of the market that we actively target for good talent on behalf of those Agencies that comprise our client base.
So, whenever approached by an exasperated recruitment manager, clamouring that we stop headhunting their staff, one of two conclusions comes to mind – they are either a total hypocrite or they do not understand recruitment.
Scenario 1 – Hypocrite
A recruitment manager in Agency A is a successful Headhunter with a blossoming career and many a senior placement behind their belt. They are not engaged with a particular rec-to-rec, and when the said rec-to-rec headhunts their staff, they demand or request that the rec-to-rec stops—a total hypocrite.
Scenario 2 – Does not understand recruitment
A recruitment manager in Agency B may be a good recruiter but rely on Seek and other job boards to source their candidates. More often than not, this is a high-volume/generalist type of work their team does. They do not understand what a candidate-short market is really like to operate in. This manager does not understand rec-to-rec recruitment.
The best and most successful recruiters headhunt. It’s what we all do for a living in the rec-to-rec and regular recruitment world. As long as we are not headhunting from our clients, nothing is unethical about it. For those agencies that do not want to partner with us, it is entirely hypocritical (and ineffective) to protest against headhunting from their ranks. When such an occasion does occur, an obvious question arises – do these people understand recruitment?
I’d love to hear your comments.