Reverse Headhunting: Why Finding the Right Job can be Life-Changing

James Isherwood talks about turning the recruitment process round the other way!

Reverse Headhunting: Why Finding the Right Job can be Life-Changing

Headhunting is about finding exactly the right candidate for the job – from a pool of people who might not actually be looking for jobs. Reverse headhunting is about finding the right job for the candidate – even if the companies aren’t necessarily looking for someone to fill that role right now. James Isherwood explains how it works.

I’ve been successful in reverse head-hunting for a long time and, in my opinion, it’s great for candidates, companies and recruiters. I see it as textbook recruitment, however, a lot of people don’t do it. Instead, they focus on taking a requirement and finding candidates for the role – a ‘join-the-dots’ mentality.

In traditional recruitment we follow these processes: get given a requirement, go and look for candidates. We’re normally contacting a candidate to fill a specific role. With reverse headhunting, though, we identify the candidates and sell them into a company they’re interested in where there may be, or may not be a role, to help change their life.

We can use the method of reverse headhunting to present our candidates with multiple opportunities but, more importantly, with the right opportunity for them.

My story: how reverse headhunting worked for me

About 8 years ago I went travelling in Australia. At the time, I wanted to do an in-house recruitment role, but it didn’t work out quite like I expected. I joined an IT recruitment consultancy to focus on SAP recruitment and had to find, and match, qualified, experienced SAP people with companies doing SAP implementations who needed them.

As I went searching for candidates I found a candidate who was perfect for the role. I sold the company to him, got his CV and then phoned up the company. They were skeptical, but I asked for one chance to prove myself. “If it’s not right, I’ll never bother you again,” I said.

They offered him the role within 2 weeks.

As a result of this reverse headhunting technique it not only found this great candidate a great role, it also opened up 35 jobs for the agency I worked for.

Since then, over the years I’ve found that when there’s the right match between people and companies, we can basically introduce someone into the organization and, if they’re strong enough as a candidate, companies will often find a way to fit that candidate into their business.

Finding the right job can be life changing

Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else in life. That’s why it’s so important to enjoy what you do and that’s why I love doing recruitment a different way. It’s not hard to find ‘just a job’ for ‘just a candidate’; there are plenty of recruiters out there doing that. That’s why they have a reputation for being cowboys that don’t really care – because, for them, it’s all about the fee.

But at collective-i, we don’t think that’s good enough. Sure, we want to earn an income but as far as I’m concerned we’re talking about people’s lives, their livelihoods, their careers. That’s not to be taken lightly. If you’re presenting them with multiple opportunities in the right companies for them, you’re doing them a favour, and what goes around comes around. For me, it’s about making a difference! Reverse head hunting is the way we add value to our candidates lives – and they get a job at the end of it that is as close to a perfect match as possible. That’s why recruitment isn’t just a job for me: it’s actually something I love doing. And that’s why I believe being a recruiter is a good thing: when we do it right, we can have a huge impact on how people develop their life – not just their career.

Reverse head hunting means we have to really care about our candidates

For us, at collective-i, reverse headhunting is essentially about building a relationship with a candidate that we think has got a very solid profile – in sales, pre-sales, marketing, etc. We aim to understand their motivations, their attitude to life, their ideal work-life balance and even what makes them happy and fulfilled. Then we work to understand the types of companies they want to work for, we might ask them to build a list of companies they want to approach, and we get their CV and pitch them into the right client for them. And it works.

I don’t claim to be a rocket scientist, but I do care, deeply, and that makes all the difference.

I want to give candidates the chance to identify multiple opportunities without going to multiple agencies. So if you’re considering your next move, or you just want to know what’s out there, get in touch. The chances are that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


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