How to Recruit Part 2/3: Headhunting

The headhunting portion of the recruiting process can be time consuming, but is crucial to success. Finding qualified candidates and interesting them in the position is obviously a prerequisite to making a hire.
It’s important to remember that you’re essentially selling the position as a beneficial career move to the potential candidate, so it pays to present it in the most favourable light. Communicating clearly and effectively is key, as it is in any marketing effort.

Job Titles

A good title can be a real game changer. Two identical positions, marketed with differing titles, will receive differing amounts of interest. The title should be clear, without being too long.
Research job boards for titles commonly used to describe similar positions. Inventive or unique job titles may seem like a good point of differentiation, but can backfire if they cause ambiguity or are missed altogether by qualified candidates who search for more common titles. It’s also important for the job title to match the salary, as respondents to senior sounding postings will expect senior salaries.

Job Description

The job description is your opportunity to go into more detail about the position, but even here, brevity is beneficial. Avoid unnecessary terms such as ‘people person’ or ‘team player’, as everyone will claim these traits. Descriptions should be short, clear and easy to read. More detailed job descriptions may be important in later stages, but when looking to attract candidates, it’s favourable to be concise, while still conveying pertinent information.
How specific you can afford to be with your qualifications is effectively a matter of supply and demand in your particular job market. When posting a position that you expect will generate a great deal of interest, it’s possible to be more discriminating with your required qualifications.
Job postings that disclose salary will often generate more interest, although this is not always the case with senior positions. At any rate, it will help weed out candidates whose expectations are not in line with what you are offering.

Finding Potential Candidates

Maximizing the talent pool means approaching people who may not be actively searching for a job. These people can be found on LinkedIn, through job boards, company websites or industry or association lists. It’s best to keep profiles or notes on large numbers of potential candidates. Knowing what you’re looking for in advance, in terms of requirements vs. nice to haves, will help streamline your search. Is industry or functional expertise more important? What about personality fit?

Approaching Candidates

The initial approach will often be conducted via email or inmail. Qualified professionals are often approached with great frequency, so it’s important to get their attention with an interesting subject. Respect their time by being upfront with your intentions and avoid making uninformed statements such as ‘this is the greatest position for you’.
Instead, convey the highlights of the position and state your desire to speak with them directly to assess fit. In addition to selling them on the specifics of the role, remember to feature other talking points, such as access to education or advancement, or the benefits of the geographical location for them or their families.
If the candidate search is a lengthy one, it’s acceptable to approach people again. Situations change, both for companies and individuals.

Next Steps

If a candidate shows interest, it’s time to do some initial screening. At this point the candidate is probably familiar with the job description, but not the name of the company. Arrange a phone call to discuss their background, in order to confirm they’re a fit for the position.
At this point, pertinent information such as job location and salary should be disclosed, if they have not been already. If any of these prove to be non-starters for the candidate, it’s best to realize this before investing further time and energy into their candidacy.
If the candidate is still interested in the position and they seem a potential fit from the company’s point of view, the company should provide them a more detailed job description. This would also be a good time to request an updated resume. If they don’t follow through within a reasonable amount of time, it may be worth following up with them.

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Henry Goldbeck

Henry E. Goldbeck, President of Goldbeck Recruiting Inc, is a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and founded Goldbeck Recruiting in 1997. Since then, Henry has built the company's reputation as a leading headhunter and recruitment agency in sales, marketing, operations, engineering, and executive level positions across a variety of industries.

President & CEO at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.