In 2020, the search for potential candidates is not an issue anymore. Requirements for professional headhunters seem to be changing, and having broad professional experience in the sector and a wide network of contacts will no longer be enough.
The following are some of my own thoughts regarding the most important qualities and skills that a headhunter needs to have in 2020:
Understanding today’s business environment
Digitalization is real, it’s everywhere, and it affects everything. This presents a challenge for headhunters, as we constantly face this topic in conversations with customers and potential candidates. Customers are trying to find out if we keep ourselves up to date or if we are stuck in the wrong decade.
Top headhunters are really top salesmen. Sales skills are integrated throughout the process, and this is where a great headhunter really stands out. Top headhunters are able to attract (to sell!) potential candidates who are interested continuing the discussion.
Usually, headhunters are not searching for the best candidate but the most suitable one. The process has to take into account personal chemistry, personalities, and emotional dynamics. Often, while a headhunter interviews potential candidates for the first time, he or she is evaluating how this person would fit into the future team or interact with the manager, the management team, or the main stakeholders.
It is important to understand the ramifications of digitalization, but it is equally important to manage a variety of applications and software. This mainly relates to locating crucial information quickly. Such a headhunter, who already has problems with using their own e-mail and rely on pen and paper instead of technology, may struggle to deliver the best possible result to the client.
Networking and own contact network
To me, the “dream” headhunter is a mix of both the old and the new. Although digital technology has made all the information immediately available, it is also useful to maintain a more traditional contact network. And despite the speed of digitalization, human contact and emotional intelligence is still a huge part of the headhunting process.
While other headhunters’ five final candidates are those who have entered first through the door, great headhunters go through even hundreds of potential candidates on a paper, discuss with dozens over the phone, and meet 10 to 20 in person, just to be sure to present the best 3 to 5 final candidates to the customer.
When to push, when to take a couple of steps back, when to provide support for a candidate, and when to put pressure on the client to make the decision. Great Headhunter understands this “game”, and through effort, sees that everyone is getting what they wanted.
Most headhunters are still senior people. Today, however, I see a huge niche market also for 30+-year-old headhunters. Of course, this list of qualities is a challenge for anyone, but many companies are hungry for digital experts, and finding / attracting them requires often a person from the same generation and mindset, a person who understands their values and objectives. I think that in today’s headhunting company we should have both junior and senior headhunters to be able to help companies and customers the best possible way.
Teemu is a Director of InHunt World and has been working in the 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 2016, Teemu has been focusing on designing, creating, and running the new InHunt World International Headhunting Network, which already covers over 30 countries.