12 Tips to Bring Out the Inner HeadHunter in You

The historic act of headhunting is quite disturbing, yet fascinating. The literal practice of taking and preserving a person’s head after killing them, has advanced from ancient times to the 21st century.  Figuratively, the aggressive nature of the word has carried over to the modern day recruiting industry.  In our culture, today a headhunter relates to third-party recruiters, talent acquisition managers, and search firms who seek and find “trophy” candidates.

To successfully acquire top-notch talent, there are 12 tips to bring out the inner headhunter in you:

Attracting your future trophy – Have a clear plan and be visible.

Lego Headhunter Man 1. Offer an attractive (yet not too complex) website with search engine optimization and key words that increase your site’s visibility when candidates search for opportunities.

2. Have clear and concise job descriptions that attract the right candidates to your postings.  Ensure your verbiage is direct and geared toward the position at hand.  There should be “weed out” details to deter unqualified applicants.  Advertise and post your job on job boards and social media sites, as well as, your website.

3. Connecting and networking with others in the industry is key to locating the best talent.  You can achieve this through social media sites, conferences, referrals, and blogs.

4. Reach out to passive candidates and cold call. Cold calling is far from dead. Most of the A- players are not actively looking, but “always interested in hearing about what’s out there.” A cold lead can very well move quickly to a warm or hot lead if you have something enticing and that piques their interest.


Are they trophy material? – Keep them or (politely) leave them.

5. A thorough pre-screen is essential to determine if the candidate can be an ace in the hole. Ask “weed out” questions that are specific to the qualifications of the position.

6. Verify data on the resume, confirming places and dates of employment (including month and year).  It is imperative that the resume accurately reflects their past employment and education.

7. Obtain an overall picture of their accomplishments and goals.  The top dogs will be able to clearly list their achievements and plans for the future.

8. Assess their demeanor during the interview.  Are they relaxed and pleased to hear from you?  Or are they nervous, irritated, rigid and inflexible?  Good leaders display a genuine, easy-going positive energy and traits such as confidence, clarity, honesty, respect, and passion.

9. Perform professional reference checks, from past supervisors, that offer both objective and subjective responses.  You want glowing references, a diamond that shines!


Preparation in receiving your trophy – Develop a relationship.

10. Evaluate and assess the candidates for accountability during the interview process.  Do they return your calls?  Are they active in the process?  Do they posses strong communication skills and follow-up?  The strong players know to reach out to you after the interview and to send “Thank You” letters to their interviewers.

11. It is important that you also display respect by communicating and following through with the candidates.  Be the bridge that keeps the lines of communication open between all parties involved.  Encourage your candidates and make them feel important, respected, and wanted.  Let them know that you are their advocate and that you care.

12. Coach and guide the candidates through the interview process to the offer phase.  Provide them with interview tips on verbal and non-verbal behavior, interview questioning, attire, etc. and ensure they have researched the company they are pursuing. Make yourself available to answer any questions they may have and be sure to be active in the offer/negotiation phase to close successfully.


Once your candidates are hired, it crucial that you stay connected to them. You have developed a relationship through this process. Moving forward, their performance will dictate the success of your career.

Luckily, headhunting in our society lacks the barbaric method seen throughout history. Yet, the concept still touches home. The assertive Talent Acquisition Managers, who remain focused in their efforts to locate and draw in the leading edge candidates, continue to add to their successes as they acquire yet another trophy for their collection.


jody Dugan Jody Dugan is the President & CEO of Dugan Staffing Solutions, Inc., a nationwide hospitality and retail recruiting firm. Photo Credit Flickr Windell Oskay

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Jody Dugan President & CEO, Dugan Staffing Solutions Inc
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