Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Changing World of Headhunting (Part II)…How it is Impacting the Candidate-Recruiter Relationship.

“The Crystal Wind is the storm, and the storm is data, and the data is life. You have been slaves, denied the storm, denied the freedom of your data. That is now ended; the whirlwind is upon you . . . . . . Whether you like it or not.”
― Daniel Keys Moran, The Long Run: A Tale of the Continuing Time

Once upon a time there were Active candidates and Passive candidates. Active candidates were those who were “actively” looking for a new job. Many were unemployed and looking for any job. Some were employed, but really unhappy, and looking for a better job. Passive candidates were not looking for jobs. In many cases they were not even interested in hearing about a job. If you were an employer needing to fill a position, you ran ads and/or used a search firm. You might also work your limited network or dig though a file of old resumes. But the truth was that many of the best candidates were passive. They were not going to respond to ads and most of them were not in your professional “network”. Even the pool of active candidates was tough to cover. It took time for ads to be published and those ads had to be seen by the candidates. Then there was response time. Maybe a phone call or a fax, but mostly via old-fashioned mail service. It was a slow process.

Once upon a time, search firms had much better networks than employers. Passive candidates had relationships with one or two trusted search firms and that was about it. Employers seldom if ever directly recruited passive candidates. If employers wanted to really open the box and see all of the talent that was out there, it made a lot of sense to use a search firm. If a passive candidate wanted to be presented with specific types of opportunities in a manner that was safe and confidential, working with a headhunter made a lot of sense for them as well. Even active candidates were channeled through search firms. Employers found it difficult to reach them all and the active candidates had no way of knowing about many of the job opportunities. Headhunters spent a lot of time on the phone and touched a lot of paper. It was a slow process. But, in the end, it was a pretty sweet deal for the headhunters.

As noted in my previous blog entry, times have changed. The job search/recruiting process has gone digital and, for the most part, is totally transparent. Today’s passive candidate may not be responding to job postings, but their professional profile is out there on LinkIn and they are gladly accepting “Inmails” about new career opportunities. Assuming someone has written up a decent description of the position, a ten year old kid can pump out messages to prospective candidates. Getting the word out about jobs is easy. Finding people looking for career opportunities is easy. Does “easy” work? Sometimes it does. At least, often enough that it is changing the way search firms operate and add value.

So what does this mean for Candidates and how has it impacted the Candidate-Recruiter relationship? The answer to those questions and more next week.

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