Ask the Headhunter #2

This week Michael Rainey, Managing Partner&CEO of GRN Czech answers a new question in our column. Read and enjoy.

week 34

If you you have anything in mind that you would like to ask from GRN Czech’s professionals or if you would like to give us some feedback regarding our social media pages, don’t hesitate to leave your reply below the article or send it here!



“Dear Michael,

What is a common misconception of a headhunter?”



I am often faced with this dilemma, several times a week at minimum as a matter of fact. When dealing with a new or potential client, it is often the case that they confuse us with “agency” style recruiters they’ve worked with in the past. What is the difference you ask … it’s all in target audience, style, method and approach. This misconception of thinking that all “recruiters” are alike happens quite often. In fact there is a gulf of difference between how we as “headhunters” work and how the “agency” recruiter works.

The first difference is who is approached — we are mainly approaching “passive” candidates, meaning those that are not actively looking for a job. We seek out the best talent in the market for our clients, and as such we cannot rely that these people are spending their time on job boards and other postings/advertisements. We go out to find them.

Next, we are very different in style. The Headhunters “style” is much more consultative, with a longer view, resulting in longer term, repeat relationships with both the candidates & clients we work with. With that said, our methods used in approaching and working any assignment are also quite far apart. A headhunter’s methods are more consultative and precise. We take the time to map out a market, keeping in touch with key figures and always keeping abreast of developments, trends and movements; giving real added value to both our clients and the candidates we work with.

Last is approach; I believe that our firms view, taking a “long term view” sums up how most Headhunters approach the markets they work in. Sure we all make money on placing talent with the client, but in our case, we are much more concerned with the fit, career development and culture than an agency recruiter is. In the end, we only have our name and reputation in the market and in no way would we risk either for the sake of a placement. We value our clients and candidates too much to risk losing their trust and continued business.


Ask The Headhunter #1

From now you can find our well-known Ask The Headhunter column not only on Facebook, but here on our Blog too!



Michael Rainey managing partner, CEO and professional consultant of GRN Czech answers all questions received from the audience.

If you you have anything in mind that you would like to ask from us or if you would like to give us some feedback regarding our social media pages, don’t hesitate to leave a reply below the article or send it here!


What’s a typical day like for a head hunter?



An average day in the office starts around 7:45 – 8:00, settling in, getting coffee/tea and the reviewing the news both here in Czech and around Europe; reading to see about any current developments or events is essential since they affect not only our business but that of our clients. It’s also useful to also have a look at any market trends developing or changing that could or might affect how we work. Next, is having a quick look at new e-mails – but only acting on those things that require immediate attention for the morning, otherwise it is dealt with in the afternoon.

Around 9:00, is a brief team meeting, where we discuss any important issues pending, address any needs someone on the team has, etc. Then it is individually sitting down and reviewing the current search assignments we have open & the list of calls that should be made for the day (to find the candidates needed for the particular search). This “call list” is made using research previously done, direct contacts the recruiter has and possible sources/leads developed.

From 9:30 – 11:30/11:45 is time reserved for make the calls and e-mails needed to reach the potential candidates for the particular open assignment(s); first calling candidates to follow-up with them, and then to those people who we want to approach and speak with further about the particular assignment being worked on. These “calls” are essential to our work as a headhunter, as it is here that we make the difference. Using a direct search method (not advertising), we are approaching people that are for the most part “passive” candidates, meaning they are not actively seeking a job. These are not people positing themselves all over the internet and on the numerous job boards nor ones that are busy answering advertisements. Instead, the typical candidate that we place is most often already working and doing well in their current role and only due to our contact is their interest peaked. After this initial contact/approach with the potential candidate, we then explore where they are in their career, decide if our “opportunity” is a relevant possibility for them to consider — and if so — then arrange meeting with them to further discuss things. We are never “stealing” anyone from their current company (on the contrary, if we see that the opportunity we are speaking to a candidate about is not right for them or their current situation, we would never push that further.) We are partnering with the candidates we work with, showing them that we are not just talking to them now, but that we are also there for them anytime in the future when they are at a career crossroads. We are there for a candidate over their whole career — not just for an immediate role we want to place them into now.

Then usually around 12:00/12:30 is lunch. Then from 13:30 – 16:00 is the time we use to make those follow-up calls from the morning, checking and answering e-mails and of course taking any meetings with candidates or clients that have been previously set.

Finally around 16:00 – 18:00 is the time used to take care of anything that is still needing immediate follow-up, making plans for tomorrow’s work day – which includes research, to-do lists and action plans.

Though we might be leaving the office around 18:00, many times it is then off to a business event, a mixer or even a dinner with a client or candidate that could not meet earlier. Life as a headhunter is networking and meeting with people and so it really doesn’t “turn” off. You really have to love what you do in this business; you need to enjoy being around people, helping people with and in their careers, helping companies attract the best talent in the market, and taking great pride in knowing you are bringing true value to both companies and candidates.

Michael Rainey

How it all started?

michael Michael Rainey, 51, is the founder and Managing Partner of GRN Czech. It’s been 10 years since the company was established. Today Michael will tell us a little bit how he ended up in (then) Czechoslovakia from California, USA, and even more challenging, started a business here during those quite difficult times of the early 90s.

Dear Michael – you’re an American, who has been living and working in Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic since 1991. What brought you to Europe just after the end of the communist period?

I came here on a holiday and after being here for 2 weeks, I was so taken by not only the beauty of the city, but the wonderful energy there was all around.  People were so positive, everything was alive & buzzing, and most apparent there was opportunity all around.

What were the main obstacles and the main opportunities in the CEE (Central & Eastern European) region in the 1990s?

The main obstacles that I readily remember were the lack of services and goods, and most important the red tape and bureaucracy to get almost anything done.  Being a foreigner, not speaking Czech – this all added up, made for a tough challenge.  But as to the main opportunities —- where ever you looked there was the opportunity to do “something” that just wasn’t here. Along with a friend, we decided that there was a gap in meeting the HR needs of the many foreign companies then beginning to enter the market. So began the launch of my first recruitment group.

What did you do before GRN Czech was founded in 2003?

As I mentioned before, in 1991 I co-founded the recruitment group Personnel Select.  My partner and I took that from our first office here in Prague, to 11 offices in 8 countries – focused on the CEE region.  We sold this in 1996 to a multi-national recruitment group that was looking for a foothold in the CEE Region, which Personnel Select gave them.  For 3 years I then worked for V.C.C. as the V.P. for European Operations.  Finally in 1999 I came back to the Recruitment business, purchasing a small recruitment group here in Prague that eventually was merged into GRN Czech from 2003.

GRN Czech is “a boutique executive search and recruitment firm specializing in Mid to Executive level searches” as we can read on GRN’s LinkedIn introduction. How has the company developed during its 10-years journey?

When we started GRN Czech, as it is today, our main task and goal was to not be just one of the many tired, run-of-the-mill recruitment agencies, churning out lists from their “databases”.  Instead it was our view that we needed to address the exact needs of the client — to really get the best candidates in the market for any given assignment.  And in order to deliver on that, we knew that running advertisements would not bring those people in — rather we had to go out and directly identify and attract them.  Additionally we also knew that we had to be a partner to anyone of these candidates that we were approaching — whether or not the role we approached them about was a fit for them at that time or not; we knew that we were building a quiet but efficient network.  These candidates know that we are there when they were ready for their next step, knowing that they can also count on us to advise them accurately and fairly regarding their career future.

So for the past 10 years, we have developed down that path, partnering with the professionals we work with on both sides of the ”fence” so to speak.  Our clients and our candidates know that we are only here to make the right fit, never forcing nor wanting either side to be let down. So we are happy being a “boutique” search firm, quietly and efficiently helping our clients; being there when they need the best advice and service.

That’s where GRN Czech is today and it seems to have a bright future ahead of it. In the second part of Michael’s interview we will hear more about the exciting field of headhunting itself.