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We Asked 10 Experts for Their Top Headhunting Tips for Recruiters

Explore these headhunting tricks from recruitment experts across the globe geared towards streamlining your candidate search.

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We don’t like to dwell on the negative, but there’s an ugly reality to the recruitment process—every time you reject a potential candidate, you throw away time and money.

The paradox is, finding the right person for the role on your first try is next to impossible. 

What may feel like a no-win situation is actually an opportunity to refine how your organization approaches the recruitment process. 

From posting optimized job listings to creating a smarter interview process. We asked different HR professionals how they approach recruitment and headhunting in an effort to help you flip the script and find top-tier talent in the most efficient way. 

10 Headhunting Techniques and Tips for Recruiters

We did some recruiting of our own to find HR and hiring experts with decades of experience who can share their trade secrets. Here’s what we found out.

1. Utilize Your Network for Referrals 

Almost everyone we reached out to was in agreement, the best place to start looking for candidates is your own network. 

If you can find somebody firsthand from your network there is a very high probability that you know both their skills and work attitude, which makes for a very comfortable start without any surprises” notes Sandeepan Jindal, Founder and head recruiter at BidFortune.

Jindal also encourages folks to leverage recommendations from trusted friends, colleagues, and co-workers. 

“This again ensures a high level of comfort in terms of the number of available candidates and their skill levels. Generally, people do their due diligence and refer people they think would fit in well. As a hiring manager, the effort and the cost is greatly reduced.”

This personal method of recruitment is a direct result of Jindal’s hiring mantra: hire based on a culture fit, not skills.

“We quickly realized that skills can be learned, but attitude and ethics cannot.”

2. Create a Shortlist of Key Skills 

Job descriptions and postings can be pretty boilerplate. And too often they focus on the qualifications rather than the desired skills you want your candidate to possess. 

Samuel Klein, the hiring manager for Astorchocolate, suggests putting together a shortlist of key skills you’re looking for in your new hire. 

“This will help narrow down what kind of people you have on your radar at all times. It also saves you time when browsing profiles online or through other channels that may not be relevant to what you need right now.”

3. Use a Recruitment Service to Vet Your Largest Candidate Pools

As a managing partner at Sibley Dolman Gipe, Matthew Dolman has had to oversee several hiring and recruitment drives at his national firm. With offices across several states, he uses a legal headhunting service to identify candidates for available positions. 

“Sometimes, we use a recruitment and outsourcing service like Axiom Law in order to more closely monitor the recruitment process. We let the recruitment service select one or more qualified candidates to work on a contract basis on a case or for a pre-determined period of time. Then, if we like their performance and work ethic, we approach them with a more permanent position.”

Not only does this take care of hundreds of hours spent sorting through applications, it gives Matthew a risk-free way to test out a person’s performance before hiring them full-time.

4. Promote Postings on Your Personal LinkedIn

“We’ve found that out of 70 applicants for an average job, 50 come from our promotion of those job posts on our personal Linkedin accounts,” notes Tim from Hook Agency.

“The trick is to share value along with the posts and to ask people to comment and like for visibility. As a small business that can’t afford recruiters, this has been extremely useful and powerful.”

5. Explore Free Headhunting Tools

If you’re not a professional headhunter but still want to do the candidate search yourself, David McHugh, CEO and Founder of My Mixify suggests you look into free tools that cut down the manual work. 

“We’ve had success with the HR Candidate Search plugin for Chrome to automatically populate a spreadsheet with available candidates. From there you can narrow down instead of going through the blind search process yourself.

Keep in mind that tech positions are the most heavily sought out, and the above plugin works best for that as do most tools you’re coming across. The more ‘unique’ your hiring position is, the more you should network.”

6. Prioritize Candidate Experience 

Having an outstanding candidate experience gives potential hires the impression that your company cares about its people even before they become part of the team. Something C​​hristopher Liew, Creator of Wealth Awesome, highly values. 

“This actually makes it easier for your recruitment efforts in the long run since it strengthens your reputation as an organization they people want to work with. Even if their application doesn’t work out in the end, they’ll likely be willing to refer other potential recruits to you.”

7. Use LinkedIn Keyword Searches

When headhunting for new employees, Mark Daoust, CEO of Quiet Light simply goes on LinkedIn and uses keyword searches to find people in the relevant field. 

“This allows me to see if they have endorsements of their skills and experience before I reach out to them. Once I’m sure that a candidate is someone I’d be interested in potentially employing, I reach out with a message explaining who I am, what my company does, the position I’d like to talk to them about, as well as a ballpark figure of what I would be willing to offer for their salary. 

This lets them know I’m serious and makes them more likely to consider the offer.”

8. Get Creative With Networking Events

This past year was a little different due to COVID, but Ben Lamarche, General Manager of the Lock Search Group, thinks that getting creative with hiring events is a fun and engaging way to search for new talent.

“I like to arrange quarterly meetups around holidays or events. For example, we’ll host a Super Bowl-themed event in our offices and advertise it on various job boards. Your entry fee is sending your CV to our designated email account. 

We center decorations around the Super Bowl host city and have fun entertainment like trivia. We try to make the events as low-pressure as possible so potential candidates feel at ease and not have to be super impressive like at typical networking events. After the event, we go through the CVs we received and share stories about our interactions with them. We’ve found quite a few great people from these fun events!”

His firm has also started doing recruitment AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) on Twitter.

“We advertise on various job boards and social media the specific time we are having the AMA. We’ve been able to connect with people from all over the globe. This is definitely important to expand our candidate pool as the world is becoming more borderless in terms of remote work.”

9. Investigate What Catches Your Eye

As the CMO at Spacewhite, Jessica Zhao is particularly aware of good marketing and promotional campaigns. 

“When I see something unique and successful I try to search out who was behind the creation of that content. Once you have names, do your background research and assess whether that person has the qualities and qualifications for the position you’re hiring for. The plus is that you’ve already seen their work in action!”

10. Hire Remote, Even if You’re Brick and Mortar

Devin Schumacher, Founder of SERP, has leaned heavily into the growing remote work trend. 

“My biggest headhunting advice is to broaden your market and work with remote employees. Most brick-and-mortar businesses only hire employees who are available to work on-site, but this strategy limits their headhunting efforts to nearby talents. Trust me—there are hundreds of qualified candidates outside your city.”

This doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar businesses have to go fully remote. Instead of pivoting your company to a digital office right away, employ two or three remote employees and see how that works for your company. 

With a lot of strategy (and a little bit of luck) recruitment doesn’t need to feel like brain surgery. We understand how crucial a strong headhunting strategy is, which is why we want to offer you some extra help.

First, check out our guide to using SMS to improve your hiring process and candidate experience. If you like what you see, we’ll throw a 14-day free trial your way. No risk or commitment is required.

Join the ranks of organizations like Simon Roofing who reduced their time to hire with SimpleTexting by an average of 40%.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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