Rémi Lachance, CHRP and co-founder of Proxima Centauri, recently questioned the relevance of headhunters in the era of social media (see link below). Two headhunters respond.
Rémi Lachance pulls no punches when it comes to headhunters. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a majority of recruitment companies close or see them reorient their services over the next few years.”
The reason? Simply put, social media. Companies, for budgetary reasons, will be tempted to use the web to “attract, reach and communicate with the talent they desire,” said the counsellor.
“Social media is actually a double-edged sword,” states Martin Lauzon, headhunter for the past 6 years and partner at St-Amour. “If it makes our job easier, to some extent, we must also be aware that businesses have access to it.”
Their usefulness must be relativized, believes Xavier Thorens, headhunter for 10 years now and founder of his own firm, Thorens Solutions. “Social media is mainly used for contact, but this is only one of the many steps in the recruiting process.”
Employers, he says, are seeking more and more precise skills: “Our job is to assess whether the candidate meets the needs of the employer, but also to check whether the position is really interesting to the candidate.”
Thorens is aware of the delicate situation in which he places a candidate at the time of the approach. “Most of the time we are talking to people who are already employed, and who may be entirely satisfied with their jobs. We are not there to put workers at risk.”
"Contacting a candidate requires a lot of delicacy,” adds Lauzon. “They are perhaps at their place of work, in the presence of their boss. When a candidate is not interested, we will not insist.”
In his article, Rémi Lachance not only questioned the usefulness of headhunters, but also calls into question their integrity. “Some do not apply any rule or code of conduct, believing that all methods are good when it comes to filling a client’s position.”
Yet, Lachance himself acknowledges that “members of the CHRP order are subject to a Code of Conduct for Councillors in executive search to ensure public protection in recruitment practices.”
“Headhunting is not a junior business,” says Thorens, himself a CHRP. “When a employee joins us, they are accompanied by a senior manager for at least two years before going out on their own.”
“Anyone can improvise a headhunter,” says Lachance.
“This is technically true,” replies Martin Lauzon, who is not a CHRP. “But you can’t get by without some expertise.” In his case, it is his experience in sales management that made him a good fit to become a recruiter in the sector.
“You will not last in this business if you don’t have a high degree of ethics,” he adds. Important to mention, he works for a firm that has been established for 40 years.