I recently answered this question on Quora which addresses why companies like BountyJobs, Reflik, and any other platform looking to shake down headhunting fees don’t work out in the real world.
As a headhunter, having worked with clients before and after shifting their recruitment system to these sites, I experienced first-hand how the new platforms achieved the opposite of what they promised.
The immediate costs, while perhaps a little lower, hid the true devastation caused by the short-sighted nature of these platforms. As I witnessed from clients who made the switch, costs actually increased due to: lower candidate quality, decreased workplace satisfaction, the domino effect of one bad apple impacting others, longer times to hire, leading to net higher retention and business issues.
Here are a few reasons why you can’t “disrupt” headhunting fees:
#1. Headhunting is the most people-business of all sales jobs; you cannot substitute a human headhunter by technological or financial means. Headhunting is dual-sided selling, where our product is not a widget. To candidates, we’re selling a new job, a life-changing event that will impact their family, finances, career, and future! To clients, we’re selling a solution to improve their department, culture, achievements, and future prosperity.
At any given moment, our product on both sides can disappear, change their mind, or shift their goal posts. All of these delicate conversations throughout the sales cycle require intense care. Headhunters stalk, chase, and aggressively monitor every development; they earn every cent because they’re negotiating the most difficult product of all – an intangible dream for two disparate parties with vastly different incentives.
The communication, persuasion, and anticipation skills required for headhunting are above what’s required to sell a non-human product; it’s one level deeper in terms of the ability to foresee the future and react in your stakeholders’ best interest to make the deal happen in the most optimal manner. That does not come cheap because this skill is extremely hard to curate. The best headhunters deserve every cent otherwise they’ll shift to easier products that don’t require such a high level of sales sophistication.
#2. Companies are still willing, eager, and able to pay high fees for the right headhunters. The impact a great headhunter has on a company’s future is priceless. If done right, headhunters can find amazing talent that re-vitalizes their clients’ business operations, achievements, and culture quickly. Companies and hiring managers who understand this pay as much as they need to engage the right headhunters.
Companies WANT service, WANT true investment from the headhunters’ side to deliver great talent, and WANT trust in their vendors. Companies also want to save time, cost, and effort recruiting. If the right headhunter can find the right staff quickly, companies are willing to pay up! Money is not an issue. Pressing business and hiring needs are.
Companies recoup their recruitment costs quickly if working with the right headhunter. Since we’re still being paid what we want, there’s no desire to work with companies who don’t see our value. There certainly is no need to work with every client; we wouldn’t have the time nor interest!
We don’t want to represent companies we know will nickel and dime us, thus perhaps their internal staff too. Those behaviors usually go hand-in-hand; business culture is impossible to change and easy to sniff out. If companies think our fees are too high, we move on to the companies who believe in our fees.
#3. Just like how real estate agents are still thriving despite Zillow, technology is used to supplement our ability to do our jobs, not replace it. As much as startups are trying to get a piece of our lucrative pie, the reality is that they can’t. They can’t because they can’t actually outperform live top-billing headhunters.
Headhunters curate relationships for months, years even. We also coach people in their careers whether or NOT they get placed by us! The loyalty and support we have from our candidate community goes beyond money and recruitment platforms.
Especially in candidate-scarce markets where headhunting fees are high to the skies, you can’t shake off the power of headhunters. Candidates prefer to work with their favorite headhunters to make massive career decisions versus relying on a singular client-focused platforms (all are client-focused). In candidate-scarce markets, candidates reign supreme. Therefore, client-focused platforms don’t work in the toughest markets.
In summary, no technological program can duplicate the trust a candidate has in a top-performing headhunter. If anything, technology and recruitment programs have only helped the best headhunters do even better! We’re recruiting faster than ever with more access to candidates (thank you, LinkedIn); we’re making more money than the generation of headhunters before us (thank you, internet).
Overall, headhunting firms are growing at a breakneck pace. Young millionaires are in the making from this business by the time they’re 35. The opportunity has never been bigger and better to make some serious money in headhunting.
However, headhunters’ reputation have been negatively impacted by candidates and clients who have burned by supbar headhunters (there are too many). To those who think all headhunters are terrible:
Don’t despair or scoff at this article. The reality is that you simply have not had the opportunity to work with the best headhunter(s) in your field.
Some fields won’t even have a top headhunter! Top performers are extremely rare – only 10% of every headhunting firm truly excels at the job because it’s so hard! Our industry’s retention rates are dismal; I work every day to bring more people into headhunting as a career by helping headhunters and recruitment firms succeed.
As a client who wants to hire the right staff, what’s the solution to find a great headhunter to work with? Well, the trick is to interview, wait for, and invest in only the best relationships with your recruitment vendors. Ask for case studies, gage your headhunter’s interest to represent you or your firm. Make sure there is a relationship beyond the dollar signs. In addition, you should be a great boss; your company should be a wonderful place to work!
If not, even the best headhunters or recruitment platforms can’t save you.
Dandan is a headhunter, career coach, and speaker featured on Huffington Post, Inc.com, Apple News, Monster, and Time. Check out Dandan Global for more advice, tips, and secrets about headhunting and career success!