A business is only as successful as the people it employs.
Pic: Supplied
A business is only as successful as the people it employs. Pic: Supplied

Headhunting talent is the key to business success

By Partnered Content Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

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Companies spend millions every year on coffee, tea, computers, furniture, healthcare, office space, travel etc. for their employees, so that they are looked after and have a good place to work. 

Does it not make sense that investing in the recruitment process, to ensure the best opportunity of attracting the most valuable people in the market, would be a priority? 

Sadly, many companies are not prepared to spend a cent, but would rather take a gamble or settle for less when it comes to sourcing their employees. This is a flawed model and will lead to the eventual demise of any business, says Thuli Nkosi, CEO of BossJansen Executive Search. 

A business is only as successful as the people it employs. In today’s highly competitive global economy, companies simply cannot afford to hire people without the right skills and capabilities, or who do not fit the culture of the organisation. The cost of this is too high, increasingly so at the senior level. It stands to reason why companies would want to make every effort to ensure that they attract the absolute best people available to work for them. This, however, needs to be matched with an equal willingness to invest in the process.

There are only 3 options available to potential employers when going to market to source the ideal person.

The first is to try and do it yourself, making use of internal HR practitioners and ‘in-house’ recruitment staff.

Large resourcing teams can be found in many big corporates and are paid salaries to perform recruitment services for the very company they work for. This has become increasingly popular for many companies, with some measure of success, particularly at the junior to mid-level, where there is more volume and higher staff turnover.

Saving on recruitment fees at this level makes sense and the model works well, particularly with the advent of internet tools such as LinkedIn. Some banks have even automated the recruitment of their most junior staff. At this level, skills are a lot more generic and the responsibilities very limited, so the risk is much lower. 

At more senior levels and particularly at executive leadership and board level, the game is very different and often internal resourcing teams are found wanting or are ‘out of their depth’.

More often than not, internal resourcing teams are not professional head-hunters, but rather HR practitioners tasked with recruitment at all levels, including senior level headhunting. All objectivity is compromised, networks are limited and negotiating and persuasion skills are often constrained, given they work for the same brand. Typically these individuals are not as highly incentivised or motivated and lack in-depth market knowledge around competitors and candidate expectations. Candidate transparency is also compromised, as they generally are not as frank and open about their true feelings when dealing with an internal resourcing member.

The second option is to make use of contingency recruitment agencies.

These poor people work for free on behalf of their clients and are only rewarded with a fee should their client ultimately hire someone from the number of CV’s presented by that agency. Arguably the most flawed commercial model in the business world today. There are very few instances in the modern world where someone will work for a few days, weeks or even months with no assurance of compensation whatsoever. A company will generally make use of as many contingency agencies as necessary to fill one position, in order to try and cover off as much of the market as possible – pitting agencies against one another and squeezing them on fees and guarantees. 

This really just results in a ‘shotgun’ approach, where it becomes ‘fastest finger first’ and the agency that can get as many people in front of the client in the shortest possible time, has the greatest chance of being successful. The contingency recruitment space has been fraught with a number of problematic issues for many years and really has done the industry a disservice, resulting in a number of unprofessional and unethical practices, non-focused and untargeted approach where the clients best interests are often not forefront of mind, ‘haggling over fees’ to the point where the perceived value for the work done is literally non-existent. There are, however, a definite number of specialist contingency agencies that are sector specialists and add significant value to their clients at all levels.


The third option is to make use of an external Headhunting or Executive Search company to attract talent.

You will find head-hunters working within Executive Search companies around the world. There is an enormous need to attract the right resources for any company. The retention policies of these companies also herald the need to hire a resource for a specialist role who can serve for a long time. The challenges that companies face is the inability of in-house HR teams in finding the right avenues that will enable them to source the right employees. To address this, it is essential to think of outsourcing these services to a firm who is capable of providing quality resources and meeting the business requirement.

Often searching for senior executive level candidates who will be managing multi- functional responsibilities and in a leadership role, is best found by headhunting. Unlike contingency recruiters, true professional head-hunters always work in a retained and exclusive way and this is global standard practice. Any company that does not work in a retained way, is not a bona fide headhunting firm.

Hiring experienced professionals, who are well-groomed with the market dynamics and completely acquainted with the ever-changing demands of the industries, is the need of the hour. Headhunting essentially involves a drilling of the key USP’s of both client and candidate. They are not mere recruiters, instead they work as diverts who inspire candidates for a job change. 

Head-hunters are pivotal to business success and have become an important point in the chain of employment. Companies are greatly benefited by enhancing their resources and utilising the expertise that professional head-hunters bring to any business. 

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