Advances in new technology
In employment marketing circles, each corporation intends to look for the best qualified workers. How can this be achieved? Corporations are always on the lookout for the most efficient, effective way to find the best employees. In today’s fast paced world, a head-hunter service distinguishes itself by directly approaching potential candidates for specific corporate clients. This relatively aggressive method of recruitment works in the opposite way to an employment agency.
According to a survey conducted by e-financial careers, “head-hunters are vigorously approaching Wall Street executives. More than half of the 1,422 people surveyed said between 1 and 5 head-hunters had contacted them since the beginning of 2011” (Rodier, 2011). Therefore, considering the fact that “the top incentive head-hunters offered was a better salary, followed by better career opportunities and a better title” (Rodier, 2011). It seems there is no doubt that this new field of commercial industry has thrived dramatically in the last 30 years throughout the world.
In fact, that is part of the reason why a large number of people became willing to receive calls from head-hunters. Under increasingly intense competition, the emergence and growth of the headhunting business meets the great demand of a consultancy market as the pace
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3. The origin of head-hunters As a matter of fact, the usage of headhunting goes back to the mid-1920s, “when the first services for ‘executive supply’ appeared in the United States. These services were provided to the consumer retail sector in exchange for honoraria determined by the annual compensation of those professionals ultimately hired”(Marxuach, Origin, development and the future of Executive Search).
Initially, executive search recruitment (headhunting) was offered as a supplementary service when engaged to provide commercial consulting. Later, headhunting services were offered as a separate product and not just with commercial consulting. After this first phase of development in the United States, the executive search business expanded to Europe, then to Asia and then to still other regions. In her book, “The head-hunting business”, Jones (1989, p.6) illustrated how the service of head-hunters developed: In the beginning, most corporations realized that they needed large numbers of new people quickly because of the post-war shortage. As there was no time to select and even develop enough trainees, and the only method turned out to capture them from other firms. It seemed this large demand by companies for executives to be a crucial turning point in the origins of head-hunters.
Then Jones (1989, p.7) goes on to explain the situation before World War II: At this time, the most common intermediary between a potential employee and an employer was the employment agency. The first real head-hunting firms insisted that they were working for the company, not the candidate, and the company was paying the bill. Later, with the economic development that occurred after World War II, the separation of head-hunting services from the main lines of business management consulting started to spread.
4. The process of the head-hunting business In today’s modern and corporate environment the context is somewhat different. To gain a better understanding of this thriving industry, real examples will be looked at to see exactly how an assignment is handled. After carrying out an overview of the development of the head-hunting business, the leading factors that bred this prosperous profession might be explored.
On the whole, the process of headhunting may be divided into three main stages. Initially, it begins with the first contact between the head-hunter and the candidate – or the potential candidate. Once targeted applicants have been selected, the head-hunter would start to connect with them by means of phone calls, e-mails or even paying the candidates a visit. In many cases, at this stage the head-hunter will not merely concentrate on why a particular job position is beneficial, but why the potential recruit should choose that particular firm. In other words, the emphasis of this stage is to assess individual characters so as to confirm whether choosing a specific candidate is an appropriate choice in terms of corporate culture, organizational style, working habits and other elements.
The next stage of the process involves turning an assessment of the applicants over to the client company after gaining a deep understanding of these candidates. Traditionally, head-hunters have built their own approach (such as personal and direct contact with applicants) to cope with their recruitment needs, and to maintain the client relationship in general. However, as one of the quickest and most effective research techniques, interviewing candidates is largely chosen by head-hunters. Through interviews and other techniques, head-hunters gain a thorough identification of potential candidates to confirm their evaluation. Then, a “short list” of selected candidates will be created.
At the end, the final decision will be made by the client company on the basis of the comprehensive understanding of each candidate’s short and long-term needs, objectives and requirements. However, the influence of head-hunters on the final stage cannot be ignored. The major duties of head-hunters at this stage are counselling in the negotiation, selecting candidates, hiring and incorporating. More importantly, there are still large quantities of ‘after-sales’ services for head-hunters to do.
Follow- up of the results in each of these three stages to confirm the executive search services have been completed and to ensure adaptation of the new hire in the company. Specifically, in order to take full advantage of increasingly wide human resources, building long term connections with both hired candidates and potential applicants is also necessary. Besides, it requires evaluating client satisfaction with the search process as well. Thus, this crucial feedback allows head-hunters to make more efficient and profitable judgements in the future.
5. Comparison Furthermore, the executive search industry differs from other systems of recruitment because of its application of direct search methods. On the one hand, in the process of recruitment, a general employment agency is somewhat like using a large platform to scoop up as many applicants as possible. A head-hunter service on the other hand merely seeks to catch a very specific type of candidate for a very special purpose. Furthermore, do-it-yourself recruiting is mostly dependent on replies to advertisements, and to some extent cannot avoid the task of examining applicants before meeting any suitable candidates. While the headhunting process generally costs more than the former, as it involves both direct and indirect expenses, it both saves time and cuts risk in the long run.
6. The growth of the executive search industry Significantly, there was an indispensable change in the fortunes of the headhunting business after entering into the 21th century. As Jones (1989, p.50) described in her book, The head-hunting business, “a wide range of headhunting corporations begin to act as the force and pioneers in the mainstream of human resources. Though most of the major firms now at the top of this field emerged before 1980, their structure, position and influence had improved greatly when compared with their growth before.”
With the development of the headhunting sector, the executive search industry started to play an increasingly crucial role in regard to economic improvement, education and the political field. The action and activities of head-hunters began to affect a variety of industries throughout the whole world. 6.1 The influence on the economic domain In the commercial domain, there are various sorts of masterpieces achieved by head-hunters. Such as PeterV.Ueberroth – the organizer of the 1984 Summer Olympics, due to his leadership and management, it turned out to be the first privately financed Olympic Games; And also the chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard – Carly S. Fiorina, who was considered as one of the most powerful women in business were both recruited by the executive search industry. ( Fenglin, 2011)
Typically, in 1993, IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) suffered from a terrible economic depression owing to their weak management. They then employed the world’s first leadership advisory firm – Heidrick & Struggles, intending to alter the current condition. Finally, the famous headhunting firm recruited Louis V. Gerstner, who was formerly CEO of RJR Nabisco. This is the person who became chairman of the board and chief executive officer of IBM, and was largely credited with turning around IBM’s fortunes. To some extent, this piece of news caused a sensation all over the world, which accelerated the speed of growth of the executive search industry. ( Fenglin, 2011)
6.2 The influence on education Interestingly, the influence of the headhunting business extended to the field of education as well. In 2002, the University of Hong Kong was confronted with a job vacancy in the position of headmaster. Being authorized by the local government, one the of world’s largest executive search firm, Korn & Ferry chose to focus on the field of Chinese business elites. Then, including Lap-chee Tsui, a name list of 50 candidates was drawn up after a series of selection and assessments. In fact, prior to Tsui’s appointment as the president, he was working at a hospital for sick children for quite a long time.
That maybe part of the reason why it was uneasy for Korn & Ferry to persuade him to be the president. One thing that should be noticed is that Tsui had little experience in the executive field before he was appointed the president. However, after 3 years’ of outstanding work and good reputation, Tsui was honoured to be the best president of Hong Kong by its citizens. It proved a relatively wise choice for the headhunting process. ( Fenglin, 2011)
6.3 The influence on the political field In the political field, the growing importance of the headhunting business seems to be obvious as well. For example, in 2002, the government in Burbank California America recruited 7 advanced technical engineers who had at least 5-years working experience and with at least 10 million dollars of salary by the executive search. Even in Mexico, head-hunters did take strong effects in the selection of cabinet members and officials for the administration. ( Fenglin, 2011)
As a whole, it seems that these significant cases in terms of business, education and politics have brought an increase in efficiency and performance to the executive search industry. Currently, head-hunters are in high demand for a wide range of situations where recruitment is needed, such as sudden resignations of senior managerial posts from major corporations, the peak in “job-hopping” around the beginning of every year, or even competition between overseas returnees. Meanwhile, there has been a rapid emergence of phrases like “career planning” and “job-hopping” in modern society. As it is, the profession of head-hunting seems to be considered as a relatively crucial role in the consulting domain instead of being treated as stealing from competitors as it had been viewed in the past.
Nowadays, for client corporations, a wide range of services that the executive search industry offers guarantee more professionals are available in the market for hiring. To be specific, the capabilities developed by head-hunters can be applied to similar fields as well, such as on-boarding programs, consulting, career planning, and internal candidate evaluations, all of which brings added value that clients need. Overall, the services of a good head-hunter are an ideal way for a company to find the perfect person for a given position. Their services provide more direct, personalized and highly qualified management through the candidate recruitment process. It cannot simply be substituted by advances in new technology.