First of all, not all do.  And it’s more of a disliking than hate…… an annoying little step-brother who is always getting in your way.

The best headhunters are usually viewed as trusted partners by Human Resources professionals.  However, what many HR folks do not know is that nearly all headhunters are paid entirely on commission based off of placements made.  For a rookie headhunter, that comes with a lot of pressure because the commissions are very low when you start out.  The rookie must make placements and try to gain new client companies, quickly, or he/she will be out of a job. Personally, I have seen it time and time again……rookie headhunters nearly go crazy with the pressure  – it is like a daily axe hanging over your head with the executioner saying: “Make a placement now or you are fired.”  I once worked in a firm where the turnover rate for rookies was at one point about 90%.  I wish I was kidding!!  It was usually painful, sometimes traumatizing, and always depressing to watch that revolving door.    

So consequently, at any given time, you have a ton of rookie (or just plain average-to-not-good) recruiters contacting HR professionals, trying to gain them as a new client.  Imagine being an HR professional, with the constant pressure of your everyday job responsibilities, juggling all of these balls in the air, dealing with demanding business partners, and you are literally receiving an abundance of daily calls and emails from recruiters you do not know.  It can be a lot.

Adding to that frustration……..

You regularly have headhunters who don’t have a relationship with your company trying the end-around to get in. HR folks are usually the liaison between external recruiters and leadership in the company. Headhunters will often call hiring leadership directly, trying to facilitate an introduction for a professional they are working with.  Many HR professionals take this as a slight towards them, but it really isn’t intended that way……..usually.  Usually it is just a headhunter trying to take a direct approach because any other approach will not work.

So what is the answer? 

I’m not sure there is one. Animosity between the two sides really accomplishes nothing for either party but making each work day harder.  And headhunters are not likely to stop being so aggressive, as very often their job depends on gaining a new client company or making that introduction to a leader.  My advice to both parties would be to try and understand where each is coming from, and be respectful but remember it isn’t the end of the world; it is just business.  Many a headache can be saved by an appreciation and a healthy respect of the other’s responsibilities and daily pressures.


Please contact Longview Search Alliance if you appreciate these insights and would like to know more.  We strive to be completely transparent involving the work that we do and in our efforts to reform the Recruiting Industry.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)