I Prefer ‘Headhunter’ Thank You

I was at a party the other night, and a woman came up to me and introduced herself as an executive looking for a new job – “I heard you’re a headhunter and thought maybe you could…”  She paused for a second with a bit of a guilty look on her face, and then said “um, sorry, I meant…um…”  I laughed a little and told her that I actually prefer to be called a headhunter.

Despite the negative connotation and stigma that accompany the title, headhunters play a vital role in the job market and the business world.  It’s a pretty cool gig.  Here’s why:

We’re Recruiters.  We work with companies of all shapes and sizes to help them make their most important decision – who to hire on to their senior leadership team.  This is not simply a resume shuffling exercise or a cold-calling expedition — but rather an amazingly thorough and often times painstaking search process that culminates in the company hiring that one person that most closely aligns with its culture, as well as all of the technical requirements of the position.

We’re Management Consultants.  We not only advise clients on whom to hire, but also on how to structure their teams and departments.  Because we spend so much of our time interviewing and networking with business leaders, we learn what their companies look like inside and out and, as a result, are uniquely positioned to give our clients guidance on how their org charts should be laid out.

We’re Mentors.  We get to counsel people on two of the things most important to them — their career and their compensation.  This is probably my favorite part of the job.  Talking shop with executives one-on-one, sharing expertise, and influencing the decisions they make.  Love it.

We’re Therapists.  We get to shepherd people through two of the most stressful times in their life — taking a new job, and being in transition having to find a new job.  Headhunting is often less about assessing candidates, and more about being a buddy for them to talk to, an outlet for them to vent their frustrations, or a shoulder for them to cry on.  This is when we create some of our closest and longest-lasting relationships with people.  Makes it well worth the time investment.

We’re Co-Pilots.  It’s our responsibility to stay plugged into the business community.  We know all of the companies in our space.  We know all of the hiring managers in our space.  We know all of the service providers in our space.  This allows us to help executives do due diligence on new job opportunities, and steer them in the right direction.  I have conversations like this all of the time.

We’re Barometers for the Job Market.  There is no one better for executives to turn to when trying to determine how much hiring is happening, at what companies, at what compensation level.  “What’s the market like right now?” is a question we headhunters answer multiple times a day.  If you’re having an easy time getting in touch with us, that’s a bad sign – it means that we’re not as busy because companies aren’t doing as much hiring.

So don’t be hesitant about calling us headhunters.  That is, after all, what we are – and it’s a badge we wear proudly.  Best gig on the planet as far as I’m concerned.

Fidler’s Law of Headhunters:  We rock.



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