Financial Times

Business of head-hunting

By Dinesh Weerakkody

This is about a group of people who move mountains, yet remain in the background. They love the anonymous life they lead and wallow in the knowledge they have. They are in fact the real movers and shakers of an industry. They are what you and I call the head hunters - a profession that has come into its own and gained prominence only in the last decade or so in our part of the world. When CEOs need to fill management positions, when experienced managers want to climb the career ladder, or when MBAs want their first senior management role, they often turn to specialist head- hunters, to use jargon of the trade, executive search consultants. India is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia. With Mumbai and Delhi being important centres for executive search.

I am told there are an estimated 500 Indian and Foreign based firms and individuals operating in this country alone claiming to do executive search. So choosing the right firm is crucial as is making sure the head-hunter produces the desired outcome. Imagine the thoughts that run through the head-hunter’s mind when they are about to fill a certain position in your company. The job satisfaction in this field is enormous. they are not only able to get a better paying job (most times) for his people but are also able to improve the life of his clients and candidates.

Not very long ago when the head-hunter, and particularly the executive head-hunter, came into existence they did not have to do the multiple tasking that are expected to perform today. The orbit of work was the town or city the head-hunter lived in. Today, it is a completely different scenario. The head-hunter not only hunts for the right candidate but also needs to go through reams of data to accomplish his job more effectively and efficiently.

So, what are the challenges for today's head-hunter from doing his job effectively?
One, to spread his net wider he has to use the Internet. That means he has to spend hours on the net posting his requirements on different job sites. Plus he has to check back regularly to see if he has got the required responses. Then has to write back to each one of them...for he may need them in the future.
Two, go through and print hundreds of pre-qualified candidates provided by other executive head-hunters or recruiters interested in making split placements. So good head-hunters need to keep a communication channel open with the other recruiters.

Three, analyze and send emails to the short listed candidates. Check often to see if an interview call could be fixed. Reconfirm the name both with the client and the candidate.
Four, follow up with client and candidate after the interview is over. There will be coordinating a minimum of two to three rounds of interviews, if not four or five, based on the position seniority and other parameters.

Five, the most troublesome tasks of all – reports. A single report is line, but when it comes to multiple reports such as client and candidate satisfaction, failure reports and of course no report is complete without an analysis.

These days the executive head-hunter has more to handle than his counterparts of yesterday. But then the modern head-hunter also has cutting edge online directories to support him in his quest of finding and placing the right candidate effectively.

Online Directories...what are these?
Well, many of you know what they are. An online directory is your answer to a worry free head-hunter. An online directory is actually your answer. You are able to perform multiple functions. You can sift, sort and store data using certain keywords such as position or vocation. An alternative to using a head-hunter is to use is to use specialized online employment tools such as those provided by many professional institutions and B Schools in India.

Head-hunters do not come cheap- the clue to their value is in the name. Remember head- hunters do not add value administratively to a your company. They add value with their contacts, knowledge of the market and an alternative view of individuals who are capable of delivering the results your company wants, or they be even be aware of candidates who have legitimate reasons for moving to another employer. So whatever business you may be involved in, if you need a head-hunter be careful when you pick your man to do your search.

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