Executive Search


January 22, 2014

Headhunting – It’s a jungle out there!

When we hear the term headhunter most of us conjure up blood thirsty images of shrunken heads, but in business the professional headhunter can be a powerful and influential figure. Indeed top headhunters can have a profound impact on the fortunes of a company. When US executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles helped to recruit Eric Schmidt as CEO at Google they were reportedly paid in shares which ultimately earned them a fee of $120 million. Given the rise in Google’s share price since Schmidt’s appointment that huge fee was clearly a bargain!

Hey, we’re not Google, what’s this got to do with us?

You don’t need to be a massive corporation like Google or pay out a fee of millions of dollars to make use of an executive search firm. Search firms work with both large and small organisations that are typically looking to build their leadership teams and recognise the ability of the headhunter to identify and recruit exceptionally talented people.

Technically the correct term is not headhunter but Executive Search Consultant, usually an experienced recruiter who is retained by an organisation to search for candidates for Board level and senior executive positions. Unlike traditional recruitment agencies executive search firms tend not to advertise their jobs and indeed discretion and complete confidentiality are two of the most important characteristics of an executive search assignment. Employers don’t necessarily wish to advertise their need for a new senior manager and equally candidates, at this level, usually don’t want anyone to know that they are looking for a new job.

The best executive search consultants will have their fingers on the pulse of the employment market. They make it their business to know who is hiring (and who is firing!). They are often specialists in a particular business sector perhaps having worked in their earlier careers, as bankers, oil & gas executives, HR professionals or IT specialists. They know their industry inside out and constantly map the best available talent in their specialist fields. You can be sure that Eric Schmidt didn’t send in an application for the CEO’s job at Google! Managers at this level are probably not going to respond to a traditional job advertisement and most likely will not be looking to change jobs at all. Success results from extensive research and an informed and credible approach to senior executives who will need to be given a compelling reason to change jobs. The approach needs to be handled with absolute discretion by a professional who is capable of engaging with the most senior managers in their specialist field.

The War for Talent

In today’s corporate jungle the war for talent can be fierce. If you’ve not heard the term before it describes the intense competition for recruiting and retaining talented employees, the smart individuals who deliver great results and can often transform the fortunes of a business. In order to stay ahead of the competition and “win the war” many employers have come to recognise the value of using specialist executive search consultants who have the reach, knowledge and insight to identify and recruit the best available candidates for their clients.


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