Leslie Cooper explains “how headhunters work” on SmartPlacement podcast
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“What you are looking for is the best match for both the candidate and the company,” said the director of HK Human Capital.
“How headhunters work”,how to relate to them, what are the stages and approximate duration of the search process, or what a candidate should emphasize according to the state of the economy were some of the topics that Leslie Cooper, director of HK Human Capital,addressed in the SmartPlacement podcast.
In the space led by Matias Palacios, founder of the outplacementfirm, Cooper, who has more than 20 years in the industry, initially explained what a headhunterdoes: “He is hired by the company to look for an executive position -in the case of us, we do generacial searches,therefore, to look for a manager- and to find the best talent available for that position.”
What are the characteristics of this candidate? “The since,” added the HK Human Capital partner, “is that he complies with the hard variables, that he fulfills the knowledge that the position has, that he has the experience that is required for that position, but also that candidate has to fit with the culture of the company, with the style of his boss. In other words, what you are looking for is the best match for both the candidate and the company.”
Regarding that last point, he explained that “many times it is believed that we only play for the company, but what we are looking for is the long-term balance. What we are looking for is that the candidate can hopefully develop a successful career in our client, because that will make our client also happier. Someone who is happy in his work and who has interesting challenges, and who does it well, is going to take the company to a better level, is going to contribute to the growth of that company, is going to contribute to making that company better. Therefore, we are always looking for balance for both sides.”
Then, he added that “we must never forget that we deal with people, that we enter people’s lives and change the course of the working lives of some executives, and therefore that change of course has to be for the better of those people.”
Regarding how the labor market currently works and the role that headhunters play in it, he estimated that the percentage of executive searches in the hands of these firms is between 15% and 20%, while “when the economy is usually tightened companies try to visualize if they can fill the position sooner.”
This highlights the importance of an executive looking for work to consider complementary ways to access more offers in the labor market, for example, developing a network of contacts, a search strategy or studying what companies are looking for according to the economic context. In this regard, Cooper commented that “in good times certain characteristics are privileged and in times of crisis other characteristics are privileged. So, I have to put the emphasis on my experience and select that experience that today is more selling.”
As for the stages and milestones of the search processes, he summarized:
- Weeks 1 and 2: gathering information from candidates.
- Weeks 3 and 4: interviews with the applicants.
- Week 5: request references.
- Week 6: candidates are presented to the client company.
The time that passes from this last stage to the hiring of a new executive depends on how many candidates participate or the particular instances of each process. For example, applying to a multinational company may consider interviews by the local and regional Human Resources team, and the person currently serving in the position to be filled. Thus, these searches can extend for approximately three months.