To say Headhunters are only for Executives is false of course. However, there are several key issues an executive search firm and individual headhunters will take into account before taking on an assignment.


Complexity is probably the single most important factor that headhunters consider when taking on a new project. As an employer, you should really be asking yourselves is this role searchable? If for example there are hundreds of people out there performing a similar role in competitor organisations, then you should probably save yourself the cost of using a headhunter and run a direct advert or use a recruitment agency. If, however the number of people in the marketing is limited due to a specialist functional skill or because the role is strategically important to the organisation then you should engage with an executive search firm. By running a thorough executive search process and using the right headhunter for you can be sure to get an ‘in the market’ rather than an ‘on the market solution’

‘In the Market’ versus ‘On the Market’

I often have this conversation with clients. If you want the best person that is actively looking for a new job, then you should advertise directly or use a recruitment agency. This is what we call an ‘on the market solution’ as these candidates are actively seeking a new role. If, however, you want to hire the very best talent, those individuals who are happily sat behind their desk doing a great job for your competitors then you need to use a headhunter to find you an “in the market solution”. These individuals are usually difficult to identify and even harder to attract. To hire these talented individuals you need the guidance of a good headhunter who can tempt them to join you.

Salary Level

We often hear that salary level is what determines whether and executive search firm will take on a role. There is some credence to this but the argument is more about the time it takes to conduct an executive search and therefore the fee levels. Headhunters typically charge 35% of a candidate guaranteed remuneration with a minimum fee. This is because an executive search process typically takes an individual headhunter 120 man hours to complete. Therefore, in order to meet the minimum fee level (which will vary between countries) then the salary level needs to be in line with the time commitment in order for businesses to justify the expense. However, many forward-thinking companies will often meet the minimum fee level in order to fill roles with significant complexity to stay ahead of the competition.

How to select the best headhunters for your organisation?

When selecting an executive search firm the chemistry between the client and the individual headhunter is often as important as their specialty. If you don’t get on with your headhunter then irrespective of how good they are it can be difficult to build a partnership. Therefore, the first thing you need to ask yourself is can I work with this consultant?

The next thing you need to consider is geography.

  • Is the a local, regional or global search? For a local search you will want to use a headhunter who has a strong presence in your country of operation.
  • When conducting a regional search say EMEA or APAC does the executive search firm have offices in the locations, you want to search in? If not then you probably need to speak with a more global firm like Kennedy Executive
  • For a global search then you absolutely need to work with a global search firm who has offices in the main markets you want to work in. You also want to know that they will be taking a team based approach and who will be working on your project.

Would you like to find out more?

Should you wish to know more about how Moorlands Human Capital the exclusive UK Partner of Kennedy Executive can help you then please get in touch.

Moorlands Human Capital Ltd is a Partner of Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting. Kennedy Executive is a network of executive search boutiques in Europe and North America with offices in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Milan, Monaco, Paris and Prague.