Why your headhunter might offer poor value for money

I'm often asked at the very start of any client relationship how much my service is going to cost. I always stand by the concept that 'inaccurate diagnosis leads to malpractice'. To have no information and simply provide a quote implies I already have a 'stack' of candidates and can pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap. I can't even contemplate that type of service - the quality of match is often incredibly poor for you and your team. The following headings will provide you will an insight into how I, and other headhunters, might price our services:

The value for money goes down as hiring manager contact goes down

The less I can communicate with you the more difficult making a great match becomes. It isn't possible to do a good job without a direct feedback loop. I need you to be available and to prioritise the hire. After all, the better the match, the more you can focus on growth activities.

The value for money goes down as the uncertainty of earning a fee is reduced

Not that I work this way, but as soon as you or your HR business partner wants to introduce more than one recruiter, the risk of wasted time, duplication of efforts and a race-to-fill, all increase the fee. There is a horrendous myth that more recruiters = better market coverage. It is very rarely true. Each recruiter simply picks the 'low hanging fruit' as would be commercially realistic when the chance of placement is 50% or less.

The value for money goes down when the hiring manager has fixed views on who to hire and the hiring process

There is no reliable way to predict if all the requirements of a job can be found in one person. Each search for a candidate is unique. There are no strictly observable trends in my view. There is no such thing as a candidate market either. There is a collection of individuals with their own unique needs and skill sets. If I can't provide input on individual candidates, and that feedback is taken on board, my fee has to go up - either that or my level of input goes down.

The value for money goes down when the hiring manager is slow

You must move quickly on good candidates. The reality is that there are likely multiple employers able to hire someone you identify as a fit and a star candidate. If you'd like something concrete here:

  • Time from CV submission to arranging an interview: 24 hours

  • Time from arranging an interview to 1st interview: 72 hours

  • Time from any interview to feedback on interview: 24 hours

  • Time from feedback to arranging 2nd interview: 1 week maximum, less is better

  • Time from final interview to offer: 24 hours

There is no game to be played; no politics will serve you. Make decisions on good candidates quickly. The longer the candidate waits the more likely their own salary expectations will increase.

The value for money goes down when the hiring manager keeps me to themselves

I believe referral is the lifeblood of the headhunting industry. It is the route through which great candidates and great hiring managers tend to be found. If you make a referral to another hiring manager (internally or externally) you will not be forgotten. In fact, I shouldn't say this but you'll be given preferential treatment, particularly if you decide you want a new job.

shhhhh, keep this to yourself :-)