How Executive Recruitment Firms Make Headhunting Work

With fresh graduates joining the job market every now and then, there is a great talent pool that is available to fill most positions in any organization. However, there are more sensitive positions that are vital to the day-to-day running of the organization. As a result, these positions might require more than just what is available in the standard job seekers. The problem is, finding skilled candidates to fill these critical vacancies is not easy. Luckily, it is possible to find the talent you need with executive recruitment firms or as they are commonly known, “headhunters”.

Why is it Important to Hire an Executive Recruitment Firm?

Why should you hire an executive search firm instead of using an ordinary recruitment agency or an in-house recruiting team? Well, there are several benefits that headhunters offer over standard recruitment techniques. These benefits include:

  • Access to a large pool of talent due to the headhunters’ wide reach in the job market.
  • Faster and more affordable recruitment cost (compared to in-house recruiting)
  • Access to better talent
  • Better chance of a good hire

How do Executive Recruitment Firms Find Candidates?

If you are considering hiring an executive search firm, one of the burning questions you might have for them is how they will find the talent you require. Below is a look at some of the top methods used by headhunters in recruiting talent.

  1. Social Media Sites and Online Profiles

One of the best place to source for talent is the internet, and more specifically, social media, learn more at: Social media has become one of the best recruitment tools for organizations, from headhunting firms, recruitment agencies, organizations looking to recruit talent directly. Executive search firms use social media as one of their top talent sources during the recruitment process. They especially make use of social sites such as LinkedIn, where job candidates post their resumes. Therefore, by scouring through various LinkedIn profiles, they can be able to identify great talent that might be suitable for the position you are looking for.

Other social sites that can be used by headhunters to recruit talent include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others. While candidates might not post their resumes on these sites, their profiles will usually have details of their qualifications, and past and current job positions. Some people also post content relevant to their skills, which can get them on the radar of the headhunters.

Aside from social media sites, executive search firms also scour through other internet profiles, for example, company website profiles, blog profiles, etc. Here, they look for qualified talent who have posted resumes, research papers, articles and blog posts, and other content relevant to their skills and qualifications. This gives them a short at skilled talents who might not even be looking for jobs and thus are hidden from traditional recruiters.

  1. Professional and Social Networks in the Job Market Industry

Even with the advancement in technology when it comes to recruitment, executive search firms still rely on the old and tested recruitment strategies. One of these strategies is the use of networks to find talent, for example: Headhunters actively participate in networking events such as conferences, seminars, conventions, job fairs, meet-ups, trade shows, and other industry networking events where they make connections that can help them find talent. These connections include job candidates, employers, and other recruiters.

Aside from industry events, headhunters also have an extensive list of contacts due to their work in the job industry. These contacts include talent they have recruited (or tried to recruit) in the past, past clients (employers), other recruiters, friends, acquaintances, and so on. Through these contacts, they can be able to get referrals to skilled talent who might not even be actively looking for a job.

When it comes to headhunting, networking is also not limited to face-to-face. Recruiters also use social networking, where they connect with contacts on social networking sites (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and others) who help them find active and passive talent.

  1. Job Boards and Career Sites

Executive search firms also make use of job boards and career sites to search for and recruit talent, as can be seen at: They can use them in one of two ways:

  • Placing ads for vacancies they are recruiting for and receiving applications from candidates
  • Scouring through the job boards and career sites to find candidates interested in similar positions they are recruiting for

The job boards and career sites are a great source for active job seekers, and here, headhunters can find talent who are interested in the available positions. As a result, they can be able to significantly shorten the recruitment process, which will save time and money for the clients.

  1. Competitor Research

A good headhunter understands that the best talent might not be actively searching for a job, but locked in similar positions with your competitors. Therefore, one of the top places that headhunters search for when recruiting talent is the competitors. Having an executive search firm recruiting talent from your competitors can offer you several advantages, which include:

  • Ready talent – competing organizations usually have similar culture and systems, and thus poaching talent from your competitor will mean that there will be little or no need for extensive training. The candidate recruited can thus hit the ground running
  • Highly skilled talent – your competitors, especially the biggest ones will usually have the best talent in the market
  • Competitive edge – talent poached from your competitor will increase the quality of your employees while significantly decreasing that of the competitor, thus giving you a great competitive edge.
  1. Internal Databases

Another recruitment tool that executive search firms use to recruit talent is their own internal databases, here is a good example from Stone Executive: In the course of a recruitment process, headhunters will come across several candidates, but only one will be chosen by the client even though the rest are qualified. Therefore, they will end up with a list of qualified candidates who they can call upon in the future if similar vacancies come up.

Executive recruitment firms also receive resumes from job candidates searching for jobs. These resumes will usually be stored in their databases, where they can call upon the candidates when a position they are qualified for opens up. Lastly, some executive search firms actively search for talent through applicant tracking systems,  read more at:, which enables them to find active and passive job candidates. The resumes of candidates who are not immediately recruited by clients are stored in the database, where they can be retrieved for future opportunities.


If you are looking to fill a vital position in your organization, hiring an executive search firm is a great idea. The headhunters will use a variety of strategies to find and recruit the best talent in the market, which will help to ensure that the specific needs of your organization are met.