#NZLEAD RECAP: Headhunting

Scott Bentley Bio

This week we saw some excellent discussion from the #nzlead community on the topic of Headhunting. I want to say right off the bat that the New Zealand recruitment community (internal and agency) really stepped up to the plate and proved that they are up there with our international peers in understanding and practice of this art. Pauls Jenkins provided a gem of a simple definition in his comment that Headhunting involves networking, referrals, market mapping and making sure the experience is positive for successful and unsuccessful candidates alike.

The first question posted was around whether HR and internal recruiters can effectively headhunt. There were plenty of responses agreeing with the positive, but some concern around the ethics. My conclusion is yes internal recruiters can and should go for it! However, a different set of rules apply. A level of care must be taken to protect the value of your brand if you a embarking on a project that targets the resources of your competitors directly. Luckily, by virtue of being part of this community, I know you are well versed in social media and will be able to use this to mitigate this issue. Alan Ward made mention of leading an internal recruitment team with an international headhunting focus and I for one am looking forward to hearing more about his successes in future blogs.

Many respondents were interested in market mapping and I tweeted that this is a process not unlike creating org charts of target companies. As a specialist, I go through this process to gain a better understanding of my market. From a sales perspective, it has given me information on turnover, demographics, and average tenure. I can even mine data on the types of companies their staff have come from in the past, which helps me focus my searches. I recommend that agency recruiters allocate a quarter of their day to this activity as it helps you become a true expert – progressing from a recruitment consultant to the coveted “Trusted advisor” status.

I was particularly interested in the questions around how we use social media in headhunting. Again, great discussion but what stood out for me was that people are often more comfortable making and receiving introductions via social media then over the phone. I tweeted that the phone will always be there but I love using Twitter as a soft approach. It’s easy to start a conversation on Twitter and you can talk to anyone before escalating to a direct approach.

I’m not going to go into headhunting on LinkedIn we would be here for hours but a great start if you’re targeting a particular person is to look at the groups that they are in. Join one of these groups, post about your role, like or make a comment on something they have posted. Often that’s all that will be required and they may approach you as a result.

Iain Macgibbon (@nzheadhunter) provided tweets from the perspective of someone who understands and practices true headhunting. His comments about targeting a ‘rich vein’ of talent rather then individuals were interesting and accurate. Also, special mention to Aaron Dodd who tweeted that headhunting is more akin to romance and dating then actual hunting – he’s right.

Mark Sumner and I had a brief exchange that highlighted one area where internal recruiters have an advantage over agencies in headhunting. That is, greater access to hiring managers. The higher the quality of your brief the better the outcome will be. Knowing and understanding your client is paramount for all of us, so being part of your client’s business offers advantages.

I think this is a big topic and in future weeks we may benefit from dissecting headhunting and discussing some of the components individually. Thanks to everyone for participating and I will no doubt catch up with you in future weeks. I also wanted to finish with a final thought on #nzlead. Taking part in the last couple of Thursday #nzlead tweet chats, I have commented that there is a really solid sense of community amongst the HR professionals that contribute. It was my initial thought that it would not be possible to replicate this is in the agency recruitment world where we have friendly but fierce competition. However, this week I have reached out to another agency for advice and had a great response. I have recommended one candidate to a competitor and got one in return. This got me thinking. For every consultant out there with a Java Developer role and a .net candidate, for example, there is probably someone in the exact opposite situation. Perhaps there is room for some collaboration? Try me some time if you’re a #nzrec. You never know I may be up for a sneaky trade! That is what I have personally taken / learned from #nzlead other than an hour of fun and usually a few new connections on a weekly basis. So thanks to Tash and Amanda, and here’s to many more interesting evenings of discussion.