Headhunters are losing their luster.  So say a number of HR staff members from various blue-chip corporations.  They have been realizing two important realities.  One is social media is a tremendous tool for locating the right candidates.  The other is performing a candidate search using internal talent is much cheaper and more effective than using a headhunter.  Carol Hymowitz and Jeff Green write about the recent trend in Bloomberg Businessweek (“These Days, Anybody Can Headhunt” 1/21/13–1/27/13, pp. 19–20):

“GE has built an internal recruiting staff of about 500 in the last six years.  In 2012 the team, helped by LinkedIn and BranchOut, filled most of GE’s 25,000 openings, about 10 percent of which were executive and senior professional positions.  They completed most searches in about 73 days, compared with the average 170 days it takes outside firms.” (p. 19)

I suspect by sticking to internal recruiters, the hiring company does a better job in terms of the job-fit and the corporate-culture fit.  This makes sense because the internal staff will of course have a better finger on the pulse of these company qualities.  As we know, getting these dynamics correct with every new-hire is crucial to that person’s success.  It also strengthens the company’s diversity and team building.  Hymowitz and Green use Coca-Cola as an example:

“Executives hired at Coca-Cola by outside recruiters are twice as likely to leave, and the diversity of candidates is about twice as high for candidates hired by the inside team.” (p. 19)

For companies seeking candidates the message is trust your inside talent!  The results prove the inside HR talent knows what to do and how to do it.  Capitalize on that and keep it moving forward.

For the headhunter firms the message is reengineer your business model!  Already headhunter pricing wars are underway and many are recasting their suite of services in recognition of these developments.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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