Everything Must Change: Headhunter and Unashamed

by TYGES International President, Tim Saumier

Headhunter is defined as a person who identifies and approaches suitable individuals employed elsewhere to fill an open business position with their client.

When I first got in this business almost 12 years ago, this was a term that I did not like nor did I respect.  It was a term to identify these annoying people that would call me at work/home to solicit me to consider an opportunity they were working on or looking for referrals for other people in my network.  I never thought I’d become something that I disliked.  As I left corporate America, I remember being a little embarrassed about my new occupation / business.  I also knew that I wanted to change the way this business is done.

headhunter-recruitingWhen we talk with people outside of recruiting, we hear at best lukewarm comments about this job/career.  I tend to relate it sometimes to the used car salesman mentality.  So when people asked me what I did years ago, I would tell them “executive recruiting” or even “professional sales” so as to avoid the dreaded word Headhunter.  Like I was some savage out there looking to remove people’s heads.

People would retort – “oh you’re a headhunter”- I would uncomfortably agree. 

Over the years, I’ve watched individuals say the “H” word in my presence and they would immediately apologize.  As I’ve learned more and more about this business and this role, I have truly learned to embrace this “badge of honor”.  I’m proud to be a Headhunter and understand the importance of the role in the business world today.  If you want to offend me call me a sales person.  Just kidding.

When I think of the title “Headhunter,” I think of someone who will represent their Client’s employment brand with honor and respect and will go to the end of the earth to find the right individual to match with the company.  We become a strategic partner who gives their clients an advantage over the competitors.  This is how we feel at TYGES.  Anyone can be a recruiter (for a period of time) but not everyone can be a Headhunter at TYGES.  This is why we have a set of four core beliefs that we stand up against daily:

  1. Recruiting is an INFORMATION business, not a sales business.  We will be honest, transparent, and respectful.  Our expertise, industry knowledge and commitment to confidentiality will help you make wise decisions.
  2. Recruiting is an INVITATION business, not a transaction business.  We believe in the humanity of people.  People are not products and we will build strong relationships through ongoing positive experiences.
  3. Recruiting is an INNOVATION business, not a imitation business.  We will continually improve processes and innovate in everything we do.  We will accept nothing short of Excellence.
  4. Recruiting is an INTENTION business, not a passive business.  We will conduct ourselves with purpose and professionalism. Our belief system will reinforce the benefits of partnering with TYGES.

Next time you hear or say the term headhunter, think of it as a badge of honor.  I do.

I welcome your feedback as we continue to Reinvent Recruiting with Resolve.  You can find me on LinkedIn and at Twitter you can find me at @timsaumierTI.  Also, you can learn more about TYGES at www.TYGES.com, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog. Our mission is simple:

We’re here to make good things happen to other people.

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2 replies »

  1. Having been on both sides of the transaction, I can tell you that that there are many in your “profession” who approach their business as if dealing with chattel. They exercise little professionalism and little common courtesy. They deal in human inventory for the sole purpose of scoring a fee.

    On the employer side, that includes recruiters who don’t properly qualify candidates before they are offered resulting in a waste of time for the hiring manager. If I had the time to fully vet every candidate that claimed to be qualified for the role, I wouldn’t need to outsource the recruitment process. The proper recruitment process needs to dig deeper than the creative writing on the resume. This includes the need to fully understand the requirements of the position being filled and the characteristics of the potential candidate. So many recruiters simply troll monster for keywords and do only a superficial job of qualifying the candidate. The best recruiters spend time with the hiring manager until they know the position as well as the manager him or herself.

    But the worst behavior is on the candidate side. Recruiters will call, set up short interviews and then tell you that they will present your material to the hiring manager. Three times out of four, you won’t hear back. For those opportunities that progress to the next levels, the recruiters will communicate only so long as you are still in the running. Once you are down the list, they go black without any feedback or acknowledgement that the candidate also invested time and energy into the transaction. The best recruiters, few and far between, maintain a professional communications path and when the time comes to let a candidate know that they are no longer in the running, they communicate and provide some useful feedback and gratitude for the time spent.

    There are thousands of people in the business of executive and professional search. If the business is to be respected, a vast majority of the people on the people gathering side should operate with more professionalism – or simply using common courtesy.

    • Richard,
      First of all thank you for the reply. I could not have said it any better hence the reason that everything we know about Recruiting must change. While not perfect by any means, I’ve personally made it my mission to change the way this business is conducted. I too have been on both sides of the process and am now in the chair as an executive recruiter.

      Simple things like the use of the word “candidate”. We have worked to eliminate that from our vocabulary. The company and the individual are both “clients / customers” and once we begin to understand this, we will take the process and the professionalism much more serious. On top of that, communication is paramount – if you can deliver good news you better be able to deliver bad and no news to everyone. Something that is not an asset of most recruiters. We also lose sight that everyone we deal with are people and they are not a simple sales transaction.

      You offer a wonderful perspective on this and I appreciate your wisdom. As you ponder radical change in the recruitment profession, I would welcome any further feedback from you as we continue on our mission here at TYGES to Reinvent Recruiting with Resolve.

      Thank you again Richard.
      Tim Saumier – TYGES International

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