Choosing A Headhunter? Here’s What To Do

If you’re reading this, things are probably going pretty well for your business.

Piles of clients? You've got ‘em.
More work than your team can handle? Check!
Big, exciting projects? Yup!

Wonderful! And when you get more work, you need more help – which sometimes means you need a headhunter.

I want to be really clear about a couple of things before we dig into choosing a headhunter.

    1. They are expensive. Typical fees are 25% of the first year's expected compensation. So, if you are going to pay the new employee $60,000 a year it will cost you $15,000 just to hire them.


    1. There are rarely refunds. Many search firms offer replacement guarantees. Which basically means if for some reason in the first 90 days the individual doesn't work out they will do the search again. But, they don't do refunds.


    1. The right headhunter makes your job (and life!) exponentially easier. They’ll save you hours of time that you’d spend sifting through resumes and trolling websites. They’ll introduce you to candidates you'd likely never uncover on your own. This is why they companies continue to pay those high fees!


    1. Some headhunters are jerks. Not all of them. As a non-jerky headhunter, I spent a fair amount of time reassuring my prospects who damage their reputation with thoughtless acts and I wouldn't quit returning calls if the search turns out to be very challenging.


But how to find and choose the right headhunter?


1. Check out their website

Does their language and style resonate with you? Do they seem like someone you’d want to have lunch with? Do they seem trustworthy and knowledgeable?

Take a peek at their client reviews. What type of work have they done for previous clients? Are their clients in your industry or a related industry? Do the reviews make you feel like they will understand your hiring challenges? Does it seem like they will “get” your industry and really care about finding the right person?

A side note about reviews: You may notice very few recruiting firms attach both company and individual names to those testimonials. This is because there are some unscrupulous recruiting trainers teach new recruiters to troll search firm websites for companies listed on testimonial pages. Those testimonials are “proof” that those companies will pay a fee to work with a recruiter. Gross, right?

2. Check out their LinkedIn Profile

Headhunters live and die by their connections, so the more connections the better! I was professionally headhunting for years so I have a LinkedIn network of over 7,000 people, which gives me access hundreds of thousands of industry professionals. I’d steer clear of any headhunters with less than 500 connections.

Read through the headhunter’s testimonials and reviews, again checking out who they've helped and how they've helped them.

3. Ask colleagues for referrals

Where did your friend’s company find that amazing new designer? How do they keep finding people with the right kind of experience? Who convinced that high caliber salesperson to move from Atlanta to Fargo? Your colleagues might know an amazing headhunter – but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

4. Schedule a ‘get to know you call’

Once you’ve found a few promising contenders, make time to chat and get to know them better. You’ll get the most out of the call (and hire the best person for the job) if you come prepared with questions.

5 Questions to ask your potential headhunter

  1. This is the kind of position I am hiring for – have you done anything similar?
  2. We are this kind of company – have you worked with similar organizations?
  3. How do you find people? What tools do you have access to?
  4. What are your fees? Can you send me an agreement?
  5. What happens if the candidate doesn't work out?

It can feel a bit overwhelming – just as hiring employees is complex, finding a trusted partner to help you hire can also be tricky. But finding the right headhunter to partner with can help you make sure those crucial hires are being filled with the best possible person, not just the “best” one that applied. Because, settling sucks when you are trying to grow your business.

Of course, if you want some help, but can't swallow the 25% fee, I have packages that will help you hire better for much, much less than a headhunter fee. Join my free Facebook group for tips, advice and weekly trainings on recruiting and retention strategies. You can even get my favorite Hiring Hacks for free!


Psst..Know someone else who could use this information? You can use those handy social share buttons right below to share this with your friends. Come on, you know you want to! 😉



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About Rikka

Rikka’s the go-to girl for growth-minded multiple six, seven, and eight figure entrepreneurs and leaders who understand the power of recruiting and retaining the right people to achieve their business (+lifestyle) goals.