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Headhunting as an effective means of personnel recruitment

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Headhunting or executive search is a selection of top managers, key and rare as the specialty and level of professionalism. This is very popular and demanded service today. Some professionals consider headhunting and executive search are synonyms, others believe headhunting is one of the methods of executive search. Headhunting and executive search are not the same thing. They are synonyms with different technologies. Headhunting or bounty hunting is biting journalistic revolution that is firmly entrenched in everyday life.

The history of headhunting began in the United States early 20’s, when the directors of the companies have started hiring agencies to find workers. The concept of “headhunting” appeared in the U.S. in the mid -1940s at the same time with the concept of executive search. After the Second World War, the male part of the population had returned to work and industry became demanded by qualified professionals. Employment services operating under the names Agency jobs, consulting agency and so on. Managers and highly skilled professionals have made most of the job seekers who found work with the help of these agencies.[2]

In the 1970s of the last century method of recruiting the staff called headhunting became one of the most lucrative businesses. To date, the fees for the services of a headhunter equal to 30-40% of the annual salary of a professional found. Demand for services of the headhunting agencies has increased significantly over the past 10 years.

Headhunting service established in Russia in the last decade of the XX century. Those were foreign companies Pedersen & Partners, Ward Howell, Egon Zender, Korn/Ferry, Amrop, Morgan Hunt, Neumann international, Nicholson, Heidrick & Struggles and others. Russian companies, such as Agency Contact, were among the first recruitment agencies and later the exclusive representative InterSearch (an international network of service providers Executive Search Worldwide) raised in Russia. Other Russian players emerged along with the Agency Contact and currently there are more than 50 companies working on the domestic market. Nowadays all executive search companies are located in Moscow, some of them have branches in St. Petersburg. [1]

In addition, some companies are trying to create a recruitment based on its database of candidates executive search- units, and there is a certain amount of companies consisting of a hunter and a few assistants.

An executive search agency is a type of company that specializes in recruiting executive personnel for their client companies in various industries. Agents typically have a wide range of personal contacts in their industry or field of specialty; and typically operate at the most senior level of executive positions. Professionals are involved in conducting detailed interviews and presenting candidates to clients selectively, when they feel a candidate meets all stated requirements. These agencies have long-lasting relationships with clients spanning many years, and in such cases the suitability of candidates is of paramount importance. Such agencies operate with a high level of professionalism. When corporate entities elect to use an outside executive search firm, it is usually due to the lack of the internal research resources, networks or evaluative skills. Outsourcing a headhunting agency allows the freedom of recruiting managers from their rivals without doing that directly, and the ability to choose among candidates that would not be available through internal or passive sourcing methodologies.

The contractual relationship between a client and an executive search agency fall into two broad categories: contingent and retained. Contingent recruiters are paid only upon the successful completion of the search. Retained recruiters are paid for the process, typically earning a recruiting fee in three stages. [8]

It is widely believed that the technology of executive search is based on the theft of personnel and executive search is almost an illegal business as most of the candidates who are using executive search are currently employed. However, they have a contractual relationship with a company, which employs, but are not part of their immovable assets. A specialist will not leave the company if he is satisfied with the payment and working conditions. Free flow of labor from one place to another is one of the achievements of the market economy. The threat of losing good employees makes the employer implement a set of psychological and managerial measures that would have made the company more attractive at the market.

Nobody considers the vacancy announcement by the employer as a direct attempt to steal frames. But according to its objectives the vacancy announcement and a direct offer from a headhunter are very similar. The practice of poaching shows that 20 to 40% of highly qualified candidates refuse to consider proposals for the transition to another job.

Headhunter’s skill is the ability to detect the attractive side in the company of the customer and the corresponding motifs of a potential candidate to join the two sides. Headhunter’s job is the work of a matchmaker, taking into consideration that both sides have their flaws and their ambitions. [3]

To become hunted a man must be high-level educated, and have professional, social and personal maturity. Universities provide knowledge, but do not give skills. Skills are the main value of the specialist, although some specialists are hunted because of their PhDs. They can be noticed and invited to work without the involvement of headhunters. But professional intermediaries have something to do here. Some foreign executive search companies have the database of all Russian specialists having a doctoral degree. The list of these specialists is bought by the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical companies. Other professional experts are production managers, chief technologists, leading designers, IT- directors, financial directors and chief accountants and managers at all levels.

There are several stages of becoming a professional:

  • a beginner who is adapting to the profession and business from the moment of graduation up to six months.
  • a young professional gaining experience from 0.5 to 1.5 years.
  • an expert 1.5 — 3 years of work experience. Basic professionalization years when a person absorbs the secrets of the trade and can start showing good results.
  • a mature specialist 3 — 5 years of work experience. This is the level at which a specialist may become interesting for a headhunter.
  • a star over 5 — 7 years of work experience. A brilliant professional showing results significantly above average, he is an ideal aim of hunting.

Headhunting agencies have survived in the fiercely competitive job market proving their efficiently. In current economic environment it is more budget-saving in the long run for high-scale companies to outsource headhunters than to recruit senior executives using the resources of their personal department.

The target niche of the headhunters at the labour market is rather wide. Recruiting technology works well in finding experts with salaries that are in the range of $400 – $800. The sums are lower at the regional level $300 – $600. It is thought that to find a specialist in the regions for salaries above $1000 is generally easy, but it’s not like that. Most managers have to search for candidates from other regions. The experience of the company selling building tools, which has offices in 23 regions, shows that it changes 4 out of 5 heads of regional offices every six months, the problem is that they tried to recruit the managers avoiding headhunting agencies. It is also confirmed by the results of a study conducted by the Russian Managers Association and the international consulting firm Ernst & Young, which was attended by 350 heads of companies of all key sectors and regions of Russia. The results show that a dominating personnel policy for Russian top managers is to attract highly qualified executives and narrow specialists. Strong senior professionals are in high demand. It is not only professional training that is needed, but also extensive practical management experience and skills.


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Headhunting as an effective means of personnel recruitment
Written by: Кандалова Надежда Викторовна
Date Published: 06/23/2017
Edition: ЕВРАЗИЙСКИЙ СОЮЗ УЧЕНЫХ_ 30.12.2014_12(09)
Available in: Ebook