HEADHUNTER – The 10 letter, 4 letter word?

Wait…did you just use “Headhunter” as a swear word?  Huh….

I would guess that sooner or later any recruiter, agency or corporate, will sit across from someone when they used the colloquial “Headhunter” while referring to recruitment.  Maybe the recruiter will be making eye contact as that person suddenly looks away and stumbles out an abject apology, embarrassed and flushed.  Perhaps that recruiter will stand there as a frustrated Business Owner expertly shares the various reasons he or she doesn’t do business with…”Head Hunters”…<gasp>.  Sooner or later we’re all going too been painted with the same brush and be “that Guy”.  But Headhunter shouldn’t be an expletive.

Yes, there are those who use Headhunter as a swear word and that’s ok. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, nor should it.  Similar reactions have been given to Professional Sales People (ugh, Salesman), and Management (ugh, Managers), and Human Resources (Ugh, HR), and IT (Ewww, Nerds), and Teachers (Summers off…pfft), and Law Enforcement (They’re out to get me!), and Lawyers (shysters, the lot of ‘em), and Doctors (Sawbones) and, and, and… needless to say, I’m in pretty good company. 

So when I ask myself, does it bother me?, the answer is “Not particularly”.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be adored and loved and get high-5’s when I walk in a room, but the fact is, the reason it doesn’t bother me (beyond the above mentioned) is because it’s pretty clear that your relationship with recruiters, or Headhunters if you prefer, has been largely negative to this point.  This means I have an opportunity to differentiate myself from “them” and really throw some horsepower behind building that relationship.  In sales, it’s been referred to as a “buying cue”.  Management loves the term “Pain Point” or the less glamorous “Area of Concern”.  Essentially what’s happened is that you’ve identified an area that we have an opportunity to address.  The silver lining of a primarily negative experience, regardless of where or in what capacity you find it, is that it’s often a blessing to know what not to do.

From here on out, if you’re a potential client or candidate, the conversation revolves around what you want while identifying what didn’t work before.  Generally, a potential client or candidate will gladly share what didn’t work or what upsets them because that memory will bubble pretty close to the surface.  Where things get more complicated is identifying what could be done differently, as it requires one to relive the failure.  With minor exceptions to the relationship and/or the role, the variables are almost exactly the same, regardless of the side of the fence you’re standing on.

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Honesty

And finally…

  • Fairness.  Which is subjective
    • What’s fair for one may not be fair for the other. 

In order to be fair to a client and to a candidate.  If you’re a candidate who doesn’t get an interview or a job opportunity, it’s not about fairness, it’s about fitment.  If you’re a client who doesn’t get the candidate they’re pining for because they rejected your offer or interest, it’s not about fairness….yet again it’s about fitment.

So yes…you can call me a Headhunter, it’s not offensive.  In fact I like what I do, and every day I work to get better at it.  Every day is different, every candidate is different and every client and role is different!  Can you say the same? 



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Canadian Home Builders Association
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