In the past, a firm that was trying to fill a particular role might hire the services of a headhunter, who would then reach out to potential candidates who matched the requirements of the role and try to encourage them to put themselves forward for the job.

A reverse headhunter is similar to a traditional headhunter, but instead of the company being the client, the candidate is now the client. Instead of searching for potential candidates, they will reach out to potential employers, who may or may not be actively looking to hire someone, and attempt to sell the candidate and ultimately convince them to hire the candidate (or at the very least interview them).

The concept of reverse headhunting is still in its infancy and is not something that we are aiming to provide as a service at this time. However, it is certainly something that we will be keeping a careful eye on as it develops.

How does reverse headhunting work?

Reverse headhunting works by approaching companies that may not be actively seeking a new employee and selling them on the benefits of hiring their client (the candidate).

A job seeker who is interested in changing companies would get in touch with a reverse headhunter so that they can have a discussion about the kind of organisation and position the job seeker is interested in. They would then go through the candidate’s qualifications, experience, and other attributes, concentrating on the most important aspects that demonstrate how the candidate can add real value to potential employers.

candidate meeting headhunter
The reverse headhunter will analyse all the candidate’s qualities

The reverse headhunter would then look for companies that might be able to make use of the candidate’s abilities and make contact with those companies. Their primary objective is to proactively approach businesses, engage in conversation with the decision-makers at those businesses, and persuade those decision-makers to conduct an interview with the candidate.

Even though the interview would be very similar to other interviews, the candidate would still need to hone their job interview skills and sell themselves to their potential employer, possibly even more so than they would in a typical interview. Therefore, it is more important than ever to follow the recommended protocols when preparing for an interview.

woman in a job interview
Preparation for the job interview is essential

Once a successful placement has been made, the reverse headhunter will typically follow up to ensure that both the candidate and the company get off to the best possible start. This is similar to what the majority of traditional headhunters would do.

HeadhunterReverse Headhunter
Company is the clientCandidate is the client
Search for suitable candidatesSearch for suitable companies
Company pays the headhunterCandidate pays the headhunter
The key differences between headhunting and reverse headhunting

What are the benefits of reverse headhunting for businesses?

The benefit of reverse headhunting for businesses is that they have the opportunity to recruit someone who may have a significant impact on the future of their company without having to go through the more traditional recruiting process, which requires an investment of time, money, and other resources.

As the candidates, along with the reverse headhunter, are selecting potential employers that match their needs, companies can be assured to a high degree that the candidate is really motivated and excited to work for the company because the candidate has actively researched and chosen them as the ideal next step on their career path

business people talking
Employers often end up with someone who makes a big difference to the company’s future

What are the benefits of reverse headhunting for the candidates?

Using the skills, knowledge, and connections of a reverse headhunter, candidates are able to open doors to potential job opportunities that would not have been accessible through a conventional job search. Candidates are now the client, and as such, they can choose the type of company they want to work for based on their own preferences.

In addition, because reverse headhunters are approaching businesses that may not currently be actively looking to hire, you are eliminating the competition that would otherwise be present if the position was advertised on job boards. 

Not only do candidates avoid the competition, but they also typically bypass a significant portion of the recruitment process, which includes filling out application forms and participating in preliminary job interviews.

As the client of the reverse headhunter, the candidate will be responsible for paying any fees associated with the search, whereas a traditional headhunter would charge the company for its services. This is obviously the most significant disadvantage for candidates, but with the potential for their dream job, it is likely worth the initial investment.

Who can benefit from using a reverse headhunter?

Not everybody can, or indeed should, use a reverse headhunter. When approaching a company, there needs to be a clear reason to pursue the hiring of the candidate. If there isn’t, then the company would most likely choose to recruit through other means, where they have a wider selection of candidates to choose from. Therefore, the company would need to recognise the applicant as an opportunity that they don’t want to pass up.

This indicates that candidates with a strong resume, who are most likely looking for a managerial or executive-level job, are the ones who could benefit most from reverse headhunting. As a result, reverse headhunters will not work with just anybody; they need to see the same skills, talent, and experience that any potential employer would see in an applicant. At lower levels, where the talent pool is much larger, traditional recruiting or even reverse recruiting methods are much more common and suitable.

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Michael Thorp has over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry. Throughout his career, he has held various roles and gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field. He has a strong track record of success in helping businesses and start-ups find the right talent to support their growth and success.