Executive Headhunters Blog

Why Companies Use Headhunters: Insight From An Executive Headhunters Case Study

When a company has a position that they need filling urgently, they generally have two choices; Search for candidates themselves, or hire a headhunting agency to do it for them. Obviously, there are advantages to conducting the search process independently.

For example, some companies would rather save money and let their in house recruiters or HR department handle it. Some companies prefer to be in complete control from beginning to end, to make sure that they get to look over every potential candidate. And that’s completely understandable. However, other companies choose to hire executive recruitment firms to handle the work for them.

But why exactly? Why do businesses choose to use headhunters to find a suitable candidate for their role? To answer this, let’s look at one of our previous case studies here at Executive Headhunters.

If you take a look at our collection of case studies, you can see that numerous companies and businesses approach us here at Executive Headhunters with positions they are looking to fill. As an example, let’s talk about our experience with award-winning engineering practice Fluid Structures.

First, some background. Formed in 1999, London-based Fluid Structures specialises in working closely with architects and designers in the process of making, fabricating, and sequencing unique and innovative structures. They are involved in various projects including, but not limited to, the engineering of structures such as staircases, housing, and high-rise hotels. They cover a range of projects with budgets from £50,000 all the way up to £100 million.

When Fluid Structures approached us, they were looking to hire an Associate Director with an ideal deadline of the end of 2018. This was important because they are a rapidly growing business and were urgently looking for a new executive recruit to meet their needs.

Their vision was that the new recruit would have the opportunity to advance to the position of Equity Director within 3 years. As such the role offered fantastic career advancement for potential candidates.

The ideal candidate would have several vital qualities including:

  • Strong engineering background
  • Passionate to work as a part of the senior management team
  • Proven leadership of teams of senior engineers / architects
  • Extensive experience in producing structural engineering solutions, taking into consideration project stage and type
  • Able to inspire and motivate others
  • Outgoing, able to fit with company dynamic

In response to this challenge, Executive Headhunters conducted a talent search across various sectors in order to find the ideal candidate who met every specified requirement.

Our attention was primarily directed at senior engineers and top performers around the area of London, where Fluid Structures is based. We carried this search out using our access to excellent resources and contacts.

Amongst a shortlist of potential suited candidates, there was one individual who was perfectly suited to the role. This candidate had expertise in managing big budget projects with large teams of engineers, as well as an excellent client-orientated focus on business development. They also possessed 10 years’ experience in the industry.

However, perhaps the most significant aspect of this was that this candidate wasn’t actively looking for a new role. This means that it is unlikely that they would have been found without the use of a headhunter, as many companies mainly look at applicants who come to them, or are marked as seeking work.

Fluid Structures were impressed with our shortlist of prospects. So much so that they decided to hire not one but two candidates. In fact, they were so satisfied with our service that they later hired us to fill another position for them.

So what can we take from this?

Well, as you can see, headhunters are experts at identifying prospects who are a perfect fit for the desired role. Often several of the candidates who are shortlisted are ideal, as seen by our experience with Fluid Structures. This means that the company is able to be involved in the crucial selection process, and select from a shortlist of only the most ideal candidates.

The truth is that many companies think that they’ve tried everything. That they’ve looked everywhere worth looking and found everyone worth finding. This is often not the case. One of the main reasons that clients use headhunting firms such as Executive Headhunters is the ability to find talent that aren’t actively searching, as was the case with Fluid Structures. This is largely appealing for businesses as most simply don’t have the time or the resources to conduct such thorough talent searches.

We are delighted that Fluid Structures were pleased enough with our headhunting service that they decided to use us again. And this is not a rare occurrence, many companies simply need to use a headhunting service before they understand how useful they can be.

There’s a reason businesses continue to use headhunting services, as they can help your firm save time and effort whilst finding the perfect candidates for the job. This often results in a very rewarding and satisfying experience for both the company and the headhunter.

Executive Search Firms - Are They Worth it?

So you or your company are looking to recruit for an executive role.

Chances are, this role is very important, so you’ve got to make sure that you hire the perfect person for the role.

You may want to take this into your own hands, or perhaps you’ve considered hiring an executive search firm to help out. But the question is; are these firms worth your time and money?

Well, in short, the answer is yes.

Hiring an executive search firm can greatly increase applicant search effectiveness, and drastically reduce the time and effort required on your part.

If you or your business has a position that urgently needs filling, here’s a few reasons why executive search firms are worth considering.

While it’s true that some executive search firms can be costly, the potential time and effort saved is significant.

Essentially, a headhunter’s role is to go out and find the best possible candidates for the desired position. They then give you a shortlist of what they believe are the most suitable candidates for the job. At this point they can help you through the interviewing process and final decision stage.

This means that you can select from the finest candidates, whilst saving you massive amounts of time, as the firm handle the searching, interviewing, and arranging.

It makes sense that you’d want to hire the best to look for the best. Executive search firms specialise in seeking out the ideal candidate, even if that candidate isn’t actively looking for a new role.

If you’ve ever recruited for a position before, you’ve probably advertised on the usual job sites; Reed, Indeed, Total Jobs, etc. You may have also scoured LinkedIn, but unfortunately these options largely only get the attention of those who are actively seeking a new role.

For search agencies, this isn’t a problem. The top executive search firms have extensive networks of contacts and associates, and can take advantage of this to contact and pitch your advertised role to talented individuals who perhaps didn’t even know they wanted a new job.

In addition, executive search firms are experts at contacting, negotiating terms, conveying the benefits of the position, and thoroughly interviewing candidates. However there are so many options for executive search firms, how do you know which one is the right match for your business?

It goes without saying that different firms operate using different methods and criteria. Some specialise in specific areas and industries, whilst others work across various sectors (e.g. Executive Headhunters). This can be fantastic if you are open to finding individuals with extensive and varied skill sets.

Remember; being too narrow in your search isn’t always the best option. If you only search within your own sector, you may be missing out on the perfect candidate. At this point you may be asking; are there any downsides?

Well, this service doesn’t come free of course, though fees and payment structure varies from firm to firm.

Many headhunters work on a staggered fee basis, meaning you pay part upfront, and part only when they have found a candidate that you have agreed on. However, you may also encounter additional fees depending on the service.

In addition, when you hire a headhunting agency, you are effectively sacrificing time for quality.

A truly thorough talent search can take up to 6 weeks. This may seem like quite a long time if you were looking to hire someone immediately, but unfortunately searching through and getting in contact with potentially hundreds of candidates does take time. Patience is a virtue.

Executive search firms are a worthwhile investment if you and your business are searching for the perfect candidate for your role.

Just make sure that the agency you decide upon is the right match for your needs.

How Headhunters Work - How do Headhunters Work?

Headhunters work in a variety of ways and the term "headhunter" means different things in different parts of the world.

In America, for example, the term "headhunter" refers to someone who works on behalf of a candidate; a kind of career management service, acting on the candidates' behalf to find them a job. Typically a headhunter in the USA is paid by the candidate, not the client.

In the UK a headhunter typically acts on behalf of a client, looking for candidates to fill a particular role and it is the client that would pay a headhunters' fees.

If we explore the UK market and focus on a headhunter providing services to a client.

Headhunting, or Executive Search as it is often referred to, when conducted in a traditional way, is a research-led targeted exercise where candidates are identified and then approached for a particular role. Typically it involves approaching identified individuals and "pitching" them an opportunity. Often these target candidates are not actively looking for a new job so can't be reached using other recruitment methods like advertising and CV searching.

It's important if you are considering using a headhunting service that you are speaking with a proper headhunting organisation and not a recruitment agency that claim to headhunt. There is a big difference between the two.

The typical headhunters process should consist of the following steps as a minimum:

  • A detailed briefing meeting to understand the role
  • A research phase to identify target companies and candidates
  • An approach phase to speak with potential candidates
  • An assessment and interview phase which should as a minimum include a face-to-face interview and psychometric/cultural profiling
  • The headhunter should offer to interview alongside the client
  • Detailed reports should be provided every step of the way

The thoroughness of the process should be reflected in the headhunter being confident they have found the right candidates and as such they should offer extended guarantees on placed candidates to reflect this.

All this takes time. It takes time to do the research and it takes time to nurture a potential candidate so they are interested in meeting a client (from a starting point of not having been actively looking). If your recruiter offer a headhunting service and a shortish in a matter of days then they will not have been doing a proper headhunt. More likely they will conducted a database or network search.

A typical headhunting process takes 5 to 6 weeks; a recruitment agency process 5 to 6 days.

How much do Headhunters charge? Typical Headhunter fees

The first thing to consider when judging headhunting fees is that a true headhunting process is not comparable to a typical recruitment agency service and as such it is usually more expensive.

A headhunting process is very much a research-led project with an intensive research phase preceding any candidate conversations. This is very skilled and labour intensive and as such you should expect to pay more for a headhunting service than for a typical recruitment agency service.

A typical recruitment agency fee will be 15% to 20% of first year salary, usually payable on the start date of the successful candidate.

A typical Headhunter fee will be more like 30% of first year salary with the fees broken down into instalments, usually 3 stages:

  • 10% of salary payable on commencement of the research stage
  • 10% of salary payable at shortlist stage
  • 10% of salary payable on completion of the project

Some headhunters will also charge expenses which are either charged on a cost basis or as an add on to their fee (usually fixed at 10% of the total fee)

Headhunters will usually estimate the salary they think a client will end up paying for the purposes of calculating the first 2 parts of the fee and then adjust the final payment up or down according to the actual salary agreed (though some headhunters will only ever adjust the payment up and if a client ends up paying more than the headhunter anticipated, the client will end up paying a fee that equates to more than the % quoted)

It is also important to understand exactly what the % fee relates to. In some cases this is charged on guaranteed salary only but other headhunters fees charge on anticipated earnings which for any role that carries a bonus could increase the fee substantially.

eg 30% of an £80,000 basic salary would be £24,000 but if there is a £30,000 potential bonus on top then the fee could rise to £33,000 if this is taken into account so it is really important to check with your headhunter exactly what their fees include.

Experience aside, are you getting the right fit for your business?

During March, we undertook a survey of 552 people with responsibility for recruitment within their business.

The survey was designed to unearth the key challenges people like you face in your recruitment processes, and with interesting results.

Specifically we asked the key question - Thinking about your most recent senior recruitment process, what was your biggest challenge? The results were revealing…

46% stated finding candidates with the right experience 33% stated finding candidates with the right cultural fit 16% stated attracting candidates who want to work for you 4% stated filling the position faster

The results highlight a point you will almost certainly know already, that finding the right fit for your business is the holy grail of recruitment.

However, it’s not just the candidates experience that recruiters are looking for – one third of survey respondents stated that finding the right cultural fit was their biggest challenge.

Many businesses tend to repeat their mistakes when it comes to recruitment, overlooking candidates who look like a risk and taking the perceived ‘safe pair of hands’ with the most relevant industry experience, only to find that they’re the proverbial square peg in a round hole who struggles to knit themselves into a well-entrenched business culture.

Recruitment always involves some degree of risk but how can you minimise it and deliver the right insights to determine if your preferred candidate is a good cultural fit before you commit?

Personality assessments are a great tool that will improve your hiring process, providing information about a candidate’s behaviour that would otherwise not have known until they were six months into the role. Such insights can be critical in enabling you to make better hiring decisions, ensuring you pick candidates who become productive new employees who fit into your organisations working culture and ethos.

How can it work in practice?

Let’s break it down into a process…

Your objectives

Naturally, individual company goals will vary, although fundamentally most if not all recruiters will ideally wish to achieve the following goals: • Reduce staff turnover and retain their good people • Avoid the cost of hiring the wrong person • Lessen any drag on productivity from the inevitable learning curve a new hire will have to go through.

So let’s break this down into a simple process…

Step 1 - Define

Before starting your recruitment process, it’s important to determine the personal characteristics that are required for success in a particular role. What better people to define these than you, your employees and even your customers!

Step 2 - Assess

Send your shortlisted candidates a simple survey that they can complete from anywhere on any device. Use the results to get a picture of that person, their character traits and personal qualities, and see where to probe deeper in your interviews.

Step 3 - Onboard

Once you have made the right hire, get them up to speed with actionable insights into their working and learning style. With a personal profile to work from you and your new employee can understand their personal strengths, challenges and how to best support them.

We can see from our survey that finding a cultural fit for your business is a critical challenge. Unlike most recruitment companies, we offer customers personality testing and support recruiters through this process. Contact us today to discuss your current recruitment challenge.

How could Donald Trump’s election victory impact the UK economy?

As the world watches the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, we are still wondering what the impact will be from the appointment of such a controversial and polarising figure as the leader of the ‘free world’

As we know, this isn’t the first time this year that the working class has voted against the establishment due to years of disappointment, less money in their pockets and an overall feeling of being left behind by globalisation.

The US public is now the most divided it’s been since Vietnam, both along political and racial lines, but what could President Trump mean for us in the UK?

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Before the EU referendum, President Barack Obama warned the UK it would go to "the back of the queue" in terms of signing trade deals with the US if it opted for Brexit. However, the President-elect has shown a different stance. In fact, Ted Malloch, who is expected to be confirmed as Donald Trump's ambassador to the EU, has explicitly said that "the UK is now at the front of the queue."

Trump, who has Scottish roots, described the UK as a “very, very special place for me and our country”, plus, last month his trade adviser said that he "absolutely" wanted to do a deal with the UK as soon as possible (after the completion of Brexit). Trump has further backed this claim up by saying it made “no difference” if the UK was in the EU or not.

After a less-than-enthusiastic feeling towards Trump during his campaign, the powers that be in the UK have responded with equal optimism, with PM Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both on board for trade talks with the US. Johnson is looking forward to working with him on “global stability and prosperity” whilst, after a phone call with Trump, May has been invited to visit the White House as soon as possible.

Success in the pipeline?

The best case scenario for the UK would be a free trade agreement with the US, which happens to be the world’s #1 importer ahead of the entire European Union, and the opportunity to reinvigorate a relationship with our most powerful ally after an often frosty eight years under the Obama administration.

This kind of agreement would undoubtedly bring a much needed boost for the Pound and just talk of a free trade agreement between the two nations since the election result has seen the Pound rally against the Euro.

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Stumbling blocks.

Will Trump prioritise dealing with China, the WTO and his promise to terminate the US’s current trade agreements i.e. Nafta? Changes of this magnitude don’t happen overnight and any potential exit-negotiations may have a bearing on what kind of a deal the UK can strike. After all, Trump’s website has no mention of the UK in its section on trade but does outline problematic relationships with China.

Many believe that imposing higher export tariffs on China “will be bad for global economic growth" with knock-on effects for the UK economy.

Trump’s also stated his desire to work with Putin to improve relations with Russia so, from a moral standpoint, the UK public may not back a government which is showing signs of being sympathetic to a long-standing enemy.

Time can kill deals.

Although May plans to visit Trump early next year, after his inauguration, putting pen to paper on any agreements could be hindered by other promises. There’s also the evermore complex and complicated factor of our Brexit negotiations which, even if article 50 is actioned in March, could drag on until at least 2019.

As we’ve seen, a lot can change in politics in a couple of years and the next two or three are set to be the some of the most turbulent for the UK in recent times.


http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=GBP&to=EUR&view=1M http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/donald-trump-memo-president-britain-planning-to-exploit-is-inexperience-a7414526.html http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/696331/Donald-Trump-what-mean-Britain-if-becomes-US-President-election-UK-special-relationship http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37851551 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37941737 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38600102