“Does Recruitment to Recruitment work?”

I have seen numerous conversations on linked in and other social media where people have been discussing the recruitment to recruitment market.  The most recent was entitled “Does Recruitment to Recruitment work?”  The majority that were commenting had bad experiences as a candidate (not many comments from a client perspective) and as such had been put off from ever using one again.  Recruitment to recruitment is a fast growing sector with few, if any barriers to entry and as a result there is a huge disparity in how much value a company will add.  A good recruitment to recruitment company will be invaluable; conversely a bad one is likely to add nothing and could even end up harming your career.  Which one you get could be viewed as luck, but there are some things that you can do to mitigate this risk.

One of my friends has been a fund manager for the past 10 years, has been happily employed in the same business for the past 6 years but has still made a point of meeting his preferred recruiter every 6 months for lunch or a coffee.  This means that they have built up a strong relationship; he can gain market intelligence, be kept up to date with any interesting opportunities and if he does become proactive in the market then he can go straight to someone that he knows/trust and will represent him effectively.  My father in law works in a senior role within Facilities Management and does exactly the same.  Why don’t recruiters do this with a recruitment to recruitment company?  Surely, as a recruiter they can see the value of having a strong relationship with an expert that is entrenched in the market.

My advice would be to build a relationship with a recruitment to recruitment company, even if you are perfectly happy in your current role.  If you wait until you are looking, and then put your CV on a website, or apply to an advert then it really is a lottery on who you will be working with and your career is far too important to take this gamble on.  Ask your friends who they rate.  Do you know if anyone supplied in to your own business – how have they done?  Have you been particularly impressed by the way that someone has approached you in the past?  Are they still keeping in touch with you?  Can you get a reference on the r2r?  Who has recommended them on Linked in – could you get in contact with them and ask for an honest opinion?  Do you have any connections in common that you could trust – what are their thoughts, how often have they kept in contact with them?  Is it just when they want something, or are they cultivating a lasting relationship?

There are a lot of bad recruiters out there, but they won’t last long in the r2r market, and so I agree that anyone who has been in the market for a decent amount of time would be worth getting in contact with.  They will be the ones with strong relationships, are well networked and have a good name in the market.  If an r2r isn’t happy to meet you for a coffee on the understanding that it is purely to start a relationship (and that they won’t get an immediate return on the time invested), then I would suggest that they are more interested in ‘quick wins’ rather than relationships and would quickly end the conversation and move on to the next one.

Michael Bowden is Partner at Bowden Mayes – a specialist recruitment company focussed on helping recruitment businesses attract senior management and next generation talent.


It’s The Headhunter Fee, Stupid!

I read an interesting blog by Ken Forrester that describes very nicely the value in using a head hunter over recruiting for a role directly.  I was writing a similar piece but Ken has summed it up so nicely that I thought I would share his piece with you:

It’s The Headhunter Fee, Stupid!

Employers seldom complain about the services of headhunters, it’s the headhunters’ fee that has become their pain point.

A few months ago I was a presenting at a seminar to about 35 business owners and HR professionals.  The topic of the presentation was “How to Recruit like a Headhunter” and during the presentation I made the statement “if you are not using headhunters as your primary recruitment weapon, then you are not hiring the best talent in-the-market”

One individual took offence to that particular statement and became very irate.   He literally stood up from his seat and while pointing his finger directly at me he said “you don’t know what you’re talking about-because we hired some pretty good people-and they are working out just fine-and we didn’t use headhunters”

Without any hesitation, here’s how I responded:

Sir, you are absolutely correct…you really don’t need headhunters to hire the best talent on-the-market.  However, what would you say was the difference between the best talent in-the-market and the best talent on-the-market?

I watched his eyes rolled over into the back of his head as he struggled to find a good answer.  But, without waiting for his response, I asked if anyone in the audience knew the difference between the best talent in-the-market compared to the best talent on-the-market.  What I heard was a number of resume related answers such as: the ones with the best resumes; or the ones presently work for the big brand name organizations or the ones that were educated from the most prestigious universities.

My reply was that they were all very good answers, but they were not the number one answer.  The number one answer is; the best talent in-the-market are most likely the individuals that are not active searching for a job.  Why? It has been my experience that to be wooed by a competitor is the expectation of the top talents.  They don’t get excited just because a job that matches their skills and experience was advertised-they have to be strategically motivated and sold on that particular job opportunity.

So, if you are not using headhunters, then you are hiring the best talent from only the individuals that are actively looking for a new job.  And, there is a significant difference in the caliber of talent when you compare the ones that are actively looking to the ones that are not actively looking for a new job.

To prove my point, I tried to get the audience emotionally involved in the debate.  I took a quick survey by asking four simple questions.  The questions are as followed:

  1. How many of you know of someone that is actively searching for a job?  Almost everyone raised their hands.
  2. How many of you are actively searching for a new job?  Three individuals raised their hands.
  3. How many of you are not actively looking, but would listen to details about another job opportunity if you believed that it could be of some interest to you? Half of the number of individuals in the room raised their hands.
  4. How many of you are not actively looking, but would seriously consider another job opportunity because you were convinced that the job would not only improve your present standard of living it would also advance you career to the next level?  Almost everyone raised their hands.

I pointed out that the result of that survey was similar to recruitment activities in a niche market.  The best talent most likely will be from the group of individuals that are not actively looking.  So, if you are not using headhunters-you are not hiring the best talent from the entire talent pool; you are hiring the best talent from a small puddle.

With all the new recruitment apps that are available, the big job boards and the growing appeal of social media are you trying to convince us that headhunting is the most effective recruitment method available, was the question asked by the same individual.

I said yes it is and I will tell you why!

The reason headhunting remains the most effective recruitment method is because as headhunters we recruit ahead of the need!

Recruit ahead of the need; I’ve never heard of that, he said.

I said: it means that we don’t wait for a job to become open to start recruiting individuals to fill that job; we recruit the individuals for a job before that job becomes open.  And the only way that is possible is if you are committed to building relationships from a recruitment perspective.  But, you also have to be passionate about recruiting to be committed to it; and when you are committed you will live and breathe recruiting 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.  A good headhunter will know who the most talented individuals are, they can identify the hardest workers from the slackers, they know the ones that operate below the radar screen and they also know the ones with the most potential. They do the hardest part of recruiting for you-which is developing relationships.

Apologetically, he said “I didn’t mean to imply that headhunters were not effective, but what are your options if you don’t have the budget to pay headhunter fees?

Therein lies the problem, the headhunter fee.  But it is also a tremendous opportunity for headhunters to make more placements.   How? They just need to do a better job of re-selling the economic value of using professional headhunters or demonstrate creative ingenuity in the pricing of their headhunting services.

The economic value is more profits; because the employers that hire the best talent often win and retain more customers.  Also, why not allow your competitors do the hiring and the training?  You simply rely on headhunters to recruit their best talent from your competitors after they are trained.  Paying jeadhunter fees will be a drop in the bucket compared to cost savings realized in salaries paid to average performers and profits generated from superior performances of the headhunted talent.


By re-pricing, I‘m not suggesting simply to reduce your placement fees, but in addition, offer a variety of recruitment services that can be tailored as a solution to the unique needs and budget of your clients.

If all headhunters charge the same placement fee, does it mean that they all provide the same level of service?  No, but that is the perception.  Nothing will change until we change something and that perception is a good place to start.

This blog entry was written by Ken Forrester and you can view Ken’s original blog entry here

Michael Bowden is Partner at Bowden Mayes – a specialist recruitment company focussed on helping recruitment businesses attract senior management and next generation talent.