It’s 5:50 and my alarm goes off. I take a shower and start going through the day in my mind; it will be an interesting one, like almost every day is, simply because of the fact that I’m a headhunter. At around 07:00 I’ve already eaten breakfast and read the day’s paper. Atlètico de Madrid had drawn 0-0 against Bayern Leverkusen and got through to the next stage in the UEFA Champions League thanks to winning the first leg 4-2. Even though I watched the game I enjoy reading the commentaries. And because I’m in a Spain those are several pages every time because here, football really is bigger than life.
I wish my wife and son a great day and jump into my car at 07:30 even though I have the customer meeting scheduled at 08:30. However, we live 20km outside the Madrid downtown and in the city the traffic can be really heavy, though I should be fine because most of the Spanish people will not start their day before 09:00.
I have the meeting at the Cuatro Torres (four towers) Business area, which is located on the north side of Madrid downtown. Before I start driving I check the traffic status on Google Maps. Everything looks good, so I decide to take the A-6 highway and then the M-40, which leads me right next to the Cuatro Torres. Everything goes well and I arrive there at around 08:00, which gives me some time to park my car under the towers and check my emails as well as go through the meeting’s agenda one more time. It’s 08:20, so I get out of my car and take the elevator to the reception area where I’m guided to the other elevator, which will bring me to the 50th floor where the meeting is held. Our client company, whose name I’m not allowed to reveal, has just moved into the tower. They have a total of 2300 employees across 19 different floors. And this is just a small portion of their people and employees in Spain.
The elevator opens and there are two gentlemen already waiting for me. We walk together to the meeting room where two more people are waiting us. From the news article I had just read related to this company, I already know that one is the company’s CFO and the other is their Chairman of the board. When I shake his hand, he introduces himself and asks:
“So, I’ve hear that you are the headhunter who is going to find a new CEO for us?”
The meeting lasts for around two hours and afterwards I have a clear picture of what they are looking for. We have agreed that in 6 weeks they will see a candidate shortlist to make the decision on the final 3 to 5 candidates they want to meet in person. 6 weeks is actually quite a good time, because we don’t neither need to rush when doing the search nor is the schedule too loose, which can sometimes cause problems with candidates getting ”cold” (though with cases on this level that’s really not likely to happen). Almost everyone we contact tends to be at least interested enough to listen and have a confidential conversation with us, because such cases doesn’t come by that often.
After the meeting I head back to our office in the center of Madrid where I have a meeting scheduled with our research team. The rest of the day goes by with explaining what the customer is looking for, planning the project and doing some test searches to get the picture of the market and who would be a great fit for this position. All in all it’s a pretty normal day at the office… except it’s not.
The whole story above was invented because many times I get the picture that people think a headhunter’s job is pretty much like that. Unfortunately, most of the time our clients are pretty standard companies who are struggling to find the people they need to fill the open positions. And this is where we come into the picture. We have the right knowledge, experience, tools and sales skills how to search for, find, contact and attract the right people. So our job is definitely everything but just having fancy dinners with important people and companies and finding new CEOs for them.
Usually, the biggest problem we face is that we need to really dig out the reasons why someone should come to work in that normal / average company. Surprisingly often, our client companies are having problems finding the reasons by themselves, which is pretty much why they weren’t able to attract any good candidates when they tried to do the recruitment by themselves. But that’s okay, because if there’s something good and it’s enough to make this position attractive for someone, we are able to find it. Sadly, sometimes this is not the case, and we need to say to the client that we are terribly sorry but we think that there’s a really low change that we are able to be successful. This happens if we cannot find enough to sell the company or the position and at the same time we know that there’s a huge shortage of some specialists or talent they are looking for.
I must confess that this is often the reason why there is also a lot of negativity towards our industry or the headhunting companies. Most of the time headhunting is a demanding job where headhunters’ business understanding, experience, knowledge, sales skills and commitment all play a big part. Unfortunately, there are too many average headhunters and the result they are promising to their client is not fulfilled. Companies are unhappy with the service which makes our job every time harder when convincing the client of our expertise, especially if they’ve had these negative experiences before.
Indeed a bad reputation is well deserved, but at the same I would like to add that there are also extremely good companies and headhunters out there that can deliver amazing results again and again. They are really the headhunting “rock stars” and luckily I’ve had a chance to meet and work with a couple of them.
Teemu is the director of InHunt World and has been working in recruitment and headhunting industry since 2009. Teemu is from Finland and came to Spain in 2014 to set up and open new headhunting offices in Madrid and later in Barcelona. Since last year Teemu has been focusing to design, create and put together the new InHunt World International Headhunting Network which already covers nearly 20 countries.