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From BREADHUNTER III.: History & Future of Headhunting

Chapter 3. History and Future of Headhunting
(from BREADHUNTER III. - The English Blog Articles, p. 187 - 195)
Predicting the Future of something feels like the oracle of Delphi and I don’t believe in this stuff, but I think there are experiences and learnings from the last years, that will help us to forecast a trend also in headhunting and executive search.
Also, here I will remind you to the 2 videos of dissolve.com about the generic marketing ad and the millennials.
We do have 3 business worlds and trend now behind us, if you just look on the last 30 years.
The 1st world was this kind of 80ties/90ties old-boys network business with big cars, suits and expensive watches at your wrist. Especially in headhunting and executive search, you could earn a lot of money during the late 80ties and 90ties and a bit during the beginning millennial times.
I wrote about this in my 1st BREADHUNTER I. book from my experiences in Munich during 1999.
Companies took every candidate with any university degree during the end of the 90ties and Headhunters collected the cheques, that they could buy a new BMW Z3 from the annual bonusses.
Then, the 2nd world came, where headhunting was affected by simple recruiting, done by everybody from housewife, to students and jobless cosmetician. They entered the headhunting market, searching for secretaries or a couple of auto mechanics or shop assistants for a flat fee or just success.
This was the time between 2005 – 2013 I would say, and I am talking here about the DACH region.
So, it was a mixture of old-school headhunting companies and new career changers, who became sometimes also very successful with this blue-collar job-searches. But this also made the market more and more competitive and the craft of headhunting was not learned by everyone and this weakens the industry during the last 12 years, plus om top the
Number 3 scenario, the rise of the mass-recruiting companies and millennials.
This started so maybe around 2012/13 maybe 3 years earlier.
So, now the 2 types I mentioned before still existed and compete at the market, and now the marketing and smart people from Silicon Valley entered here in DACH region the market and this also made sense, because Recruiting is Marketing and Algorithms and smart ATS / databases could help at the selection process a lot.
So, you could match candidates (starting 2000 with ATS) more and more with algorithms and keywords. The computer did the pre-selection process. This is hell and heaven together, because very often good and special candidates were kicked out and just the normal, keyword fitting people stayed in the system and the application process.
Inspired by tech companies like Google, Facebook and many others and by the idea to rule the world and make big money, these selection processes and tools were more and more implemented into our daily headhunting and recruiting life. Cheaper and faster selections were possible, but the human aspect was faded out.
This might be an option, if you just recruit IT people, who need to know just software skills and at first sight no social skills, but this is also a wrong conclusion and might fit just for strange robotic multinational IT companies, where the human being is just a number or a robotic-slave.
The craft IT companies, which also still exist, they do emphasize to social skills to have a better company culture and team spirit. So, if you think of companies like Zappos or Google, they check first the teambuilding ability and then turn to hard skills, selected by algorithms and this is the right way.
Ok, yes you also can’t compare IT recruiting and executive search, but the main difference, I also wrote in some blog articles some pages before, that we in headhunting and executive search, and not in IT recruiting, focus more on the social skills and the big picture, than just on a keyword selection of an algorithm or ATS.
So, how will the future of headhunting look like?
I think there will be just 2 models surviving in this competitive industry.
1. The IT and mass recruiting, selecting candidates via keywords and algorithms in short time for low hiring costs. This model is nice for companies, who do not focus on company culture and just workers or robots, doing work for money from 9-5. And I am also not sure, if this is a model, that will crash, because of the millennials and other generations after, who focus on more than just money, a new car or an iPhone fulfilling facts and figures goals for profit maximisation.
The hipster movement is a first sign for that and I like that and the young people, who act like that.
2. The headhunting and executive search, which uses these IT tools also, but just for a first selection, and after that, they focus on the human being and social skills, because they are very important for cultural fit and leading a team or engaging team spirit.
Now, in these times, where we are used to social media and being always and everywhere online, yes sometimes addicted to this, the human factor gets again relevant in business as well as in headhunting. Maybe we are not still at the peak of these development, but I believe, that some people are sick of social media and always on and would be happy of a more humanized world.
Ok, we do not have to shut down the internet, also if I sometimes think back to old times without it. Writing again letters, waiting for something and not having everything available anytime we want. Waiting for a Christmas gift and counting the days was exciting and sometimes waiting for a new movie or going to cinema, instead of amazon orders arriving the next day and streaming videos from Netflix and Amazon Prime in that time, we want it.
But it has also to do with discipline, to control yourself not being a device and internet junky.
So, in future we should focus again on the human being as well as working fully transparent for our clients as Headhunters with easy price models, like the BREADHUNTER will do in 2018.
Finding just the right candidate is the main work and this will be my business model.
Interviews and social media searches can do the companies by themselves, because they also do have an internal HR department and LinkedIn or Xing Recruiting tools and ATS, but the classical direct search, plus a grown global network of candidates and people you know as a head-hunter is the main benefit you can bring to companies during these times of competition and price dumping. And the experience to screen people and not just keywords and applicant letters.
To find and read the inside of a human being and combine it with the right companies and clients is the main work of a head-hunter, not candidate matching and working at 20 projects similar as a recruiting slave for profit maximisation.
I understand headhunting as a handcraft like the hipsters do their business and I do combine the ingrediencies of 20 years and 2 business models to have the best selection of a headhunting product in the end, because you also hire for cultural fit and not just for filling a position.
The best new tools, social media and IT are important to know for our industry, but also the old school tricks of the Headhunters to be successful, because we work for and with people.
So, I am sorry, that I could not give you an exact recipe to create the best headhunting company, but if you talk to people and do a bit research about new tools and smart work, you will find your own way to create something good and sustainable.
I think by reading books, get inspired by opinions and experiences from other people, as well as by going through the reading list of this book, you are on the right way to be up-to-date in headhunting. Life is change, always and we never give up learning is also my mantra for a satisfied and interesting life.
Thank you for your time, being with me in my blog articles and sharing my ideas. Maybe you have input, so I would be happy get an email or a connection via LinkedIn.
If you are in Vienna, we can meet for a coffee or drink also, just drop me a line.
I like to talk to people from different cultures and the world is my playground, even if I live in Austria now.
Best regards
Thomas Zahlten, Vienna, 26th October 2017

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