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These 7 Things Are What Makes a Good Headhunter
In the world of executive recruitment, good headhunters aren’t simply CV scanners, salespeople or job posters. They’re skilled, trusted advisors, and often have a depth of their own leadership experience. Finding the perfect candidate for a strategically significant role requires more than technical expertise; it demands a blend of intuition, tenacity, and an understanding of human potential. It requires a consultative approach underpinned by expert tools.
Here are our 7 things which make a good headhunter and are the foundations of what a great headhunter needs.
1. Master of the Network: Good headhunters don’t just have contacts; they map markets and build key relationships within them. They build bridges across industries, tap into hidden talent pools, and possess an almost sixth sense for identifying potential stars. This requires constant nurturing of connections, and knowing where to find those connections – which is often not in the most obvious of places.
2. Deeply Human Touch: In a digital age obsessed with algorithms, good headhunters rely on the raw power of human connection. They possess exceptional active listening skills, allowing them to delve into a candidate’s motivations, aspirations, and even anxieties. This empathy allows them to assess not just technical fit for a role, but also cultural compatibility and long-term growth potential. It’s about understanding the human behind the CV and finding the perfect fit for their client’s ambitions and culture.
3. Careful Persuasiveness: Convincing senior talent to leave their comfort zones requires careful persuasion and counsel – not a sales pitch. Good headhunters are great storytellers, painting compelling pictures of opportunity and growth within the company they represent. They possess the ability to identify a candidate’s hidden passions and tailor the narrative to ignite their curiosity. It’s not about sugarcoating reality, but about presenting a genuine, exciting vision that resonates with the individual’s career aspirations. Ultimately a headhunter needs to be sure that they are finding the best of the best, and make sure they stay. Being realistic about the clients’ ambitions and positioning is key and being transparent about any potential pinch-points from the start gives credibility and ensures an enduring placement.
4. Guardian of Ethics and Confidentiality: Trust is the currency of the headhunting game. Good headhunters operate with unwavering ethical standards, respecting both the confidentiality of their candidates and the integrity of their clients. They navigate delicate situations with tact, ensuring transparency throughout the process and never compromising on professional integrity. This builds trust within their network, attracting the most exceptional candidates who understand their clients are invested in the role and respect their position and confidentiality. The lack of a truly confidential platform is one of the main reasons companies that try to headhunt themselves fail.
5. Great Communicator: Good headhunters don’t just match profiles; they find the best possible talent who not only have the skills but also the cultural and strategic alignment. They understand that a successful placement benefits all parties, and their commitment to the company and candidates’ long-term success goes beyond closing the deal. This means they are great at communicating from start to finish, they are on-hand and positively counsel their targeted candidates and make the experience a positive one, whatever the outcome.
6. Lifelong Learner: The talent landscape is constantly evolving, and good headhunters never stop learning. They stay abreast of industry trends, emerging technologies, and shifting skill sets. They attend conferences, network with thought leaders, and actively seek client and candidate feedback. This continuous learning fuels their ability to identify untapped potential and anticipate future needs, making them invaluable partners to their clients.
7. Trusted Advisor: Executive search firms are not just recruiters, they are trusted advisors to entrepreneurs and boards when making their most important people decisions, they don’t just want a sales pitch and a few CVs. This trusted advice at the heart of an executive recruitment process is why even the biggest companies in the world use headhunters to make sure that they get things right with these significant hires – and leave their internal talent teams to focus on what they’re great at.
In conclusion, good headhunters are more than just job matchmakers. They possess a unique blend of skills, from deep industry knowledge to keen emotional intelligence, all woven together by a relentless drive to find the perfect fit. Their success lies not just in filling positions, but in creating mutually beneficial partnerships that unlock human potential and fuel organisational growth.
This post has been published by the CJPI Insights Editorial Team, compiling the best insights and research from our experts.