How To Become A Headhunter

How to become a Head Hunter

There is no defined route to becoming a successful Headhunter or Executive Search Consultant, but typically some of the best headhunters have taken either the “apprenticeship” route or “industry” route.

The Apprenticeship Route

Finding a good Executive Search company where you can learn the business under the direction of an experienced headhunter can be a task in itself.  Research the company. How long have they been trading?  What is the average turnover of staff?  What are their industry specialisms?  How business ethical are they?  What is their methodology in terms of headhunting?  What is their career plan for all roles in the company?  What are their commission structures?

Look for a company that has a number of years under its belt and has weathered difficult times – they tend to be stronger and offer more complete benefits i.e. training, good commission and career progression.  These companies may be a reasonable size or more boutique – in both cases they will be run by seasoned headhunters who are also good business people.

Be prepared for hard work.  You will be assigned a “mentor” Consultant who will show you how to use the computer database & systems, source and create target lists of candidates, prepare and make telephone calls, arrange interviews etc.  Initially, you will be directed to concentrate on the candidate side of the business. Once you have gained enough experience and confidence, you will then have responsibility for clients and in-depth search assignments.

Having the ability to speak to senior level people on the phone is critical.  There is a significant amount of time using the phone. The most successful Headhunters will be speaking with either candidates or clients from early in the morning, lunchtimes and into the evening, as quite often office hours are not convenient for many candidates or clients.

The Industry Route

Many successful headhunters have held senior management positions in their specialised industry sectors and are ready for their next career move, which will bring new challenges.  By joining an Executive Search firm, they bring with them their industry expertise and knowledge.  In their previous roles, they would more likely been involved in recruiting for their own teams and will therefore require only a small amount of initial training in the methodology of the Executive Search company they have joined. Working as a headhunter is like running your own business (i.e. your own desk speciality/ clients / candidates), but with the advantage of having the support of colleagues and office systems.  There will be a lot of autonomy; it will be your responsibility to succeed, so being self motivated is crucial.

In both routes, successful Headhunters are generally individuals who are willing to take risks and who are hungrier for success than security.  They generally have a talent for business, comfortable talking with people at all levels, tenacious and have the ability to listen as well as give good business advice.  In this role you will hear “no” more often than “yes”.  Most people who succeed at headhunting persevere through the disappointments (and there can be many) and pick themselves up to make the next call. The process is consultative sales, so listening, understanding and sales skills are paramount.

Mosaic Search and Selection Ltd is an established Executive Search Company specialising in the Publishing, Call Centre and Business Outsourcing industries both in the UK and Internationally.  +44 (0) 1242 239147 or info@mosaicss.com. www.mosaicss.com