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Several large swings in the economy have occurred since the inception of the search and placement industry. Yet rarely, if ever, has the intrinsic value of the business of executive recruitment been so obscured. As 2001 draws to a close, several factors perpetuating this mis-perception still exist, so it is high time that someone steps forward to illuminate how costly it is to underestimate our profession.Indeed, headhunters are professionals like doctors, lawyers, accountants and schoolteachers. In fact, our services impact corporate America where it is felt first. As great leaders know, the talent within their ranks dictates the health of their bottom lines.
First and foremost we've had a sudden and dramatic change in the supply of and demand for personnel. Obviously, there are more potential employees with seemingly good credentials available than ever. But history tells us that these individuals are not the movers and shakers that will drive emerging companies towards greatness. As industry guru Steve Finkel said long ago, these candidates, even if uncovered, represent the best of the unemployed or unhappy. In fact, many firms report that it is harder to detect true superiority in an over-crowded market, not simpler to hire it.
Internal human resources representatives surfing the web, trying multiple search engines or monstrous databases are no match for a personalized search conducted by a skilled recruiter incented by a substantial payday. Period.At least one other critical factor looms as a minimizer of the recruiting profession in today's business world.Managers are no longer left to do their jobs of managing.Economic and cultural shifts have made it mandatory for leaders to spend most of their time in the trenches; selling, servicing, delivering, etc. On the surface this may appear to be a positive trend. But the reality is that excellent managers never lost sight of their dual role of mentoring and keeping in contact with customers.Now managers are encumbered by so many tactical duties, including recruiting, most of them are rendered ineffective. Regardless of how well they govern their time, executives are not capable of prioritizing the paramount challenge of identifying, screening, thoroughly interviewing, facilitating and closing key hires. Yet many corporations are requiring first and second line management to conduct critical searches themselves in this cost-cutting era. The vast majority of hirers I speak to resent having to micro-manage a process that they previously handed-off to a trusted colleague their chosen recruiter. They readily admit that their strategic value is being diluted by the sheer number of new tasks on their desks. All too often, the result is a lack of attention to the best possible candidate.
Chief among them is the quality of our results; i.e. placed candidates. To unearth the hidden value of a professional search consultant is to experience the unique listening and speaking skills of a consummate sales person. The best among us have learned to execute a craft that is irreplaceable. We are not a mere means to an end- the ideal resume. We are Corporate America's trained eyes and ears behind each resume. But the majority of US firms have been lulled to sleep by an over-abundance of personnel supply. They have forgotten that true impact players will always need to be pro-actively wooed away from their successful endeavors by a skilled recruiting practitioner.A proven headhunter packs more job responsibilities into one role than any I've witnessed. Repeat clients have come to expect (and receive) part needle-in-haystack finder, always on the lookout talent scout, resume-writer, legal adviser, interview expert, truth-detector, background checker, objective facilitator, travel agent, psychologist, marriage counselor, career coach, market consultant, compensation analyst, comforter, negotiator and closer all in one.Search consultants also provide a critical safety net of complete confidentiality for both the hiring authority / client and recruited candidate. We've learned to treat both like private customers and yet we only charge one. As a matter of fact, we charge nothing for all of these services unless there is a completely successful and mutually agreed upon benefit, a formal employment agreement, for both parties. Then we proceed to guarantee its durability despite having almost no control over it.Controlling costs during a downturn is completely understandable. However, at some point a fear of delegating to a valued resource, or spending money on your ultimate resource competitive personnel will cost many organizations through a lack of vision. It's been shown that the headhunter with experience possesses the expertise to find and distinguish the true winners from the wannabes.Just ask Lou Gerstner, who never even thought about IBM, no less running it, until a savvy search firm recruited him for the job he now covets.