Two sides of “headhunting”: being a hunter and being hunted

Michael Rainey

Michael Rainey, CEO and Managing Partner of GRN Czech

This blog post is the second part of the interview with Michael Rainey, who is the CEO of GRN Czech. In the first part we discussed about the history of the company by reviewing how it all started 20 years ago. 

Today Michael will share more about the exciting field of headhunting. What is “headhunting” and what it means when someone is “headhunted”? Actually, the phrase “headhunting” is also synonymous with “Executive Search”. GRN Czech is described as “a boutique Executive Search and Recruitment firm”. Headhunting is the more demotic word for this field.

HeadhuntLet’s focus on “headhunting” in terms of its professional definition. The more literal meaning of the word “headhunt” (the first description on the picture above) is not exactly included in GRN’s daily activities…  😉 Though there are some who might disagree 🙂

Michael, you have over 20 years experience in executive search. How would you characterize your job as a headhunter?
I think that I can quite simply say that we are indeed “match makers”. We look for the best talent in the market place for our clients, not relying on a chance that someone “reads” an advertisement or posting on a job board. Instead, we network and map out where are the matching talent we need. However, on the other side, we are also there to assist these very same people we are searching for. We take the time to learn about where the candidate is now  in their career as we approach them. We learn what are their ambitions, goals and achievements. Then we make the match that makes sense for both the candidate and our clients. Both our clients and we, would never want someone to leave their present job only to find out that “it doesn’t work” in the new one. So my statement that we are in fact “match makers” is very accurate and to the point.

Let’s then take a look from the candidate’s point of view. Why would it be beneficial for candidates to use the services of headhunters? Why wouldn’t it be better for them to apply directly to the companies which have an open position?
It is always in a candidate’s best interest if they can be represented into any given company by a headhunter. Why is that? Perception. Since a headhunter’s relationship with an company is many times very different than that of a candidate’s, a candidate that is represented into a company is also perceived as being better. Why? In most cases it’s because a company knows that a headhunter presenting a candidate to them is normally already “screened” and thus a more ready fit for their potential needs. Secondly, a major reason the candidate would want to be represented by a Headhunter is because of all the preparation and follow-up that we regularly provide our candidates – something that on their own, they certainly don’t have. Lastly, in many instances we are able, working as an independent “3rd” party, to help correct or clarify things with the company, that on their own, the candidate would not likely be possible.

Why should companies use the services of a headhunter instead of taking care of the complete recruiting process by themselves?
That is a simple answer – in most instances a company does not have the time, people resources, variety & quantity of contacts, nor time to devote to finding just the “right fit” for that position they need to fill. Of course there are also questions of budget when considering the use of a Headhunter, however when all is considered, it is a big cost to the company each day that needed position is left vacant. A company can be sure that using GRN’s services will result in their seeing the best candidates in the market and only those that fit their needs. No wasted time sorting through unqualified applicants nor finding themselves making a decision to hire from the best of the unqualified, unhappy or unemployed.

What kind of candidates do you usually look for? What are the key skills that make them more eye-catching for you, as a headhunter?
Firstly, what we look for in any candidate is their match to the position our client company needs filled.  This “match” is always a combination of Skills, experience, achievements and of course company culture.  We then look and screen for how people have grown and developed in their career so far; what are their career ambitions; what are their expectations; what type of personality do they have  – does it match the client’s company culture.

What kind of candidates do you usually look for? What are the key skills that make them more eye-catching for you, as a headhunter?
What we look for firstly in any candidate is their match to the position needs of our client company. We are then looking and screening for how have people grown and developed in their career so far; what are their career ambitions; what are their expectations; what type of personality do they have  – does it match the client’s company culture.


Many people seem to be curious about this subject:  What should one do, if he/she wants to be “headhunted”?
First of all, it is important to understand that in most cases “headhunters” are working on more senior/management level roles. So if you are not in one of these types of roles, it is not likely you would or even could be “headhunted”, due to visibility by position. However – as headhunters are using a “direct search” method, in order for you to be more likely seen or more visible, it is vital that you take care to make sure your professional profile is out there in the market and how strongly are you presented in this area. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Is it representing you in the best possible way? What about some of the other Social Media channels – XING, Google+ and so on? Many times these channels are where “research” starts when a headhunter is beginning to map out a market in a certain field/area. So taking care that you are there – visible and with a strong profile – is an important and essential step.

Lastly, being “headhunted” is also about seniority, accomplishments, achievements and being known in your field. Do people talk about you as being someone they admire? Would any of your professional friends/colleagues recommend you for a position that required your skills and background? I ask this because these are the backbone of what is needed if you want to be “headhunted” – this is what I am looking for!

Last, but not least! Everyone wants to be “a successful professional”. In your opinion, what are the most important things to take into consideration in terms to become one?
I think that a successful professional is someone who devotes careful time and attention to their career – assuring that they’re not only doing the best job they can in their current position, but also seeing that they are personally and professionally developing and growing.  It’s important for a successful professional to take care of how they perform overall and how they handle/deal with those around them.

Thank you Michael for sharing all these tips and views with us.  It is very useful and I am sure it gives people something to reflect and think on as they move along in their career.


3 thoughts on “Two sides of “headhunting”: being a hunter and being hunted

    • Thank you for your question! Our headhunter will answer soon.
      Until then, enjoy our other articles, and leave a comment if you have an opinion about the topic.
      Have a nice day!

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