A very common question I often get is about the biggest differences between recruitment and headhunting. There are so many of them that you could easily write a book about it. However, one thing where there are significant differences is the expectations of applicants or potential candidates. While in a traditional recruitment project, applicants tend to be happy with what is being offered to them, in a direct search project, the situation tends to be a bit different. Let me explain.

In general, the biggest differences already arise in the setup. In a traditional recruitment project, applicants apply themselves for a vacancy. Usually, the context is that they want to leave their current job or that they do not currently have one. On the other hand, in a given headhunting project, a direct search consultant usually approaches potential candidates and offers them something better than they currently have.

And that’s where the biggest difference comes into play. Rarely or actually, I’ve never seen someone leave their current job just for the joy of change. If a person is relatively happy in their current job, the following three things need to be in order to make them move to another company’s payroll:

– The new position is a clear step forward in their career path.

– The new position and company offers them an opportunity to develop professionally.

– Compensation shows an improvement over the current one.

Suppose a potential candidate has everything going very well in the current job. In that case, it is almost impossible to have her/him change jobs without having all of the above three conditions being completely fulfilled. Of course, it is common for a professional not to be actively looking for a job and not being completely satisfied with their current professional situation. In this case, then the “game” changes already dramatically. These are exactly the people you could effectively recruit with the help of headhunters.

This is often the case, and it has been shown that increasing the salary level for these types of candidates can be enough. This does not mean that this is a durable change, however. Next time their phone rings, and another employer might offer them a better-paid position. They will likely pack their things again and leave.

These are exactly the points I always go through with our clients before a new Headhunting project is started. It is very crucial to make sure that everyone understands the starting point of the project. Especially with clients who are not used to using direct search services, it is worth spending a proper amount of time on these discussions, as it avoids many possible problems at a later stage of the project.

Teemu Ruuska


InHunt World