A Day In The Life Of A Head Hunter

Graham Oates,  takes the IAM through his office day and explains why you should always listen to a head hunter – even if you’re not looking for a new post. 

The core of any head hunter’s life is meeting and talking to people. Communication is key, as is building relationships. I will quite often spend the majority of my day in and out of meetings or on the phone. The most effective head hunters are not just in contact with clients when they are hiring, or candidates when they are looking for a job. They are in touch with them on a continuous basis. It is not about reacting to situations, it is about anticipating them, this means knowing in advance when a client is hiring and when a candidate is getting ready for a move. 

I start my day checking enquiries and briefs which have come in overnight. These will already have been acted on by our team as we have a quick turnaround time on leads. However, I like to see what’s come in as it can sometimes highlight key trends for clients. 

Once I have got a feel for the latest enquiries, I will go through emails and catch up on the latest industry news. This can include mergers and acquisitions, company results and key personnel changes for major clients which can all be important indicators hiring patterns. After this, I’ll be preparing for the day’s meetings. These will typically be with large corporate clients or high growth SMEs, perhaps taking briefs for multiple roles, discussing their key issues or sourcing someone really unusual, for instance, candidates for a CEO role in Russia or a Mandarin speaking Procurement Director for China. The variety is what makes the day so interesting. 

Finding The Right People

We source candidates in a variety of ways. This includes reviewing our in-house candidate database, advertising, personal networks and research. Here at Norrie Johnston Recruitment, we believe that top quality researchers are a critical component of a successful executive search firm. The reason for this is obvious: most candidates for top flight jobs are not actively looking at the time, they are call “passive candidates”, and need to be sought out. 

When identifying candidates, an important source of data for our researchers is LinkedIn. It’s really important that individuals, whether you are actively seeking a job or not, have a good quality profile that is complete and up to date with a professional photo. You never know who might be looking at your profile. Personally, I am always encouraged by those who also keep their profiles active through sharing, commenting and joining relevant groups. 

Once a candidate has been identified for a specific role we contact them in various ways. If I have a personal relationship with them I will handle it. Similarly, our head hunters will contact them if they have the better relationship. If it is a new candidate, one of our researchers will make contact. 

Contacting an individual regarding a role is always an enjoyable part of my day, most people are flattered and interested by the opportunity. I would always advise people to respond to any initial contact, even if you are happy in your current role, you never know what might come of a conversation. 

Choosing A Head Hunter 

You should be able to tell soon enough if a role is of interest to you and whether the head hunter is professional and reliable. A good test of this is the role they are approaching you with – if it is well targeted to your skills, experience and seniority then they are doing a good job. 

As with all professional services, when choosing a head hunter, the most important characteristics are not the size and prestige of the firm that they work for, but the quality and commitment of the individual and team leading the search. That’s why I end each day catching up with the team – reviewing the status of our briefs, the candidates and any issues. 


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