4 Talents of the Successful Headhunter

4 Talents of the Successful Headhunter


Princeton University’s lexical database defines a headhunter as, “a savage who cuts off and preserves the heads of enemies as trophies.” But the word also has another meaning, “ a recruiter of personnel (especially for corporations).”

As different as these definitions are, there is one similarity between the savage and the executive recruiter: both are tenacious in what they do. For the executive recruiter alias headhunter, your trophy is the prized recruit delivered to your client, a hunted candidate whom you will happily offer up in exchange for a hefty commission.

What are the four talents every headhunter must possess? That’s easy! Please read on:

1. You must be connected and motivated. Personnel recruiting is a talent, but your role goes far beyond what an employment agency offers. You need to go out and find candidates, people whom you may already know. Your motivation is financial because unless you find the right candidate you won’t get paid if you’re paid on a contingency basis. But when you do bag a recruit, you’ll be paid a percentage based on the recruit’s annual salary.

2. You have to know your industry. Your best chance of getting a headhunting gig is to be well known in the industry. For example, if you are business aviation expert, then you are very familiar with the corporate jet manufacturers, business jet operators, fractional share companies and the repair and parts stations who dominate the industry. That comes in handy because in all likelihood you’ll be poaching candidates from within this tight circle. Present your skill sets to Human Resources managers for consideration.

3. You must have an eye for talent. Your reputation as a headhunter hangs on your ability to find viable candidates who are worthy of consideration for a particular opening. Send the wrong people over too many times and you’ll be savaged. Writing for iVillage.com, Stacia Ragolia states, “Know what makes or breaks a resume, and what will sink an interview, so you can advise job candidates on how to best present themselves — and so you can weed out the poor ones before you send them on to employers.” You’re getting paid to separate the wheat from the chaff or the hunted from those not worth trapping in your snare.

4. You possess the tools you need to succeed. Headhunters typically operate independently which means they are self employed. That also means you’ll need to have all the necessary tools at your disposal in order to help you bag your game. According to Ragolia, that means investing in a computer, modem for internet connections, a printer and a fax machine. You will need that latter device to send over a copy of a resume, that is after you screened the candidate. You also will need to invest in stationery, business cards and software programs. Don’t forget the power suits and your fees for maintaining your membership in your industry’s trade association.

Major Money

Not many people have the drive or the connections to succeed as a headhunter, but if you do you stand to reap a significant amount of money. “Ask the Headhunter” claims that fee is 30 percent of the recruit’s first year salary which comes out to $36,000 for someone hired for $120,000. Not too shabby!

Adv. — Visit the Virginia Business Brokers for available small business listings.


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".