Very often the best candidates are already happily employed. They're not thinking of moving and they won't respond to an advert. Head-hunters' role is to source these people for difficult-to-fill positions. They differ from agencies because they focus exclusively on approaching people already working, rather than considering people looking for work.
A good head-hunter will know the executive market intimately and will use that knowledge to maximise the chances of you selecting the right person for your company. They should do in-depth background research on candidates, so that by the time an interview takes place, you have a full report on the candidate's track record and standing in the industry. They also help convince candidates that joining your business would be a smart career move, and negotiate on terms.
Choose a head-hunter specialised in the area you want to recruit for. Draw up a short list based on their experience, then check them out. Talk to the consultants about their experience and success rates, but also seek testimonials or speak directly to other clients. Things work best when you feel you trust and like your head-hunter.
Before commissioning a head-hunter, be clear the about management gap that needs filling within your company. Define exactly what you need in terms of skills, experience, personality and cultural fit. Once you've done that it's easier to brief your headhunter and draw up a job description. Make sure you've worked out exactly what you're paying for and what will happen if they don't meet your needs.
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