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Traditional Method of head hunting is here to stay despite emerging of digital platforms

Digital Recruitment

The advent of many social media platforms and networking sites has greatly impacted the way in which organizations and potential employees interact with each other. In this context, one would be entitled to wonder if the traditional method of head-hunting will withstand the onslaught of technology?
Typically, Head-hunters are the ones who work in tandem with the HR department of a client organization to fill out their key positions. Head-hunters step in when organizations need “some extra help” in filling out critical and urgent positions.
Since such positions are often not publicly displayed by the organization, the urgency of filling up the position lies with the head-hunters. Since the head-hunters represent the client organization to the prospective employee, their communication is critical to ensure selection of the candidate that fits best in the position.
Digital recruitment platforms such as on page job portals, professional networking sites and commercial services such as the one offered by,,, and others have made it very easy for candidates to reach out to prospective employers and vice-versa. HR teams can thus identify and shortlist candidates very easily these days.
In the light of this ease of access, headhunting seems easy. But recruiting the right resource is not at all easy. If we explore why, the answer will also help us understand that the traditional method of head-hunting is here to stay, at least in the Construction industry.
In the construction industry, the engineering positions usually demand core engineering expertise, which in turn requires a good mix of technical knowledge, hands-on experience, and high-level practical understanding of site implementations. Many of these competencies are not easily discernible from CVs. On top of this, the candidates are getting savvy in window dressing their profile to match the employer’s requirement published on digital recruitment platforms. We have come across many CVs that appear excellent, only to find out during further scrutiny that it was apparently written by a professional CV-writer and the candidate falls much short of the requirements.
The hiring manager who must invest precious time for screening/interviewing the candidates, faces many challenges to make the right decision. These include

  • Is the experience claimed by the candidate relevant for the role?
  • Is the candidate willing to relocate?
  • Is he a genuine jobseeker?
  • Are the strengths claimed by the candidate exaggerations?
  • Is he going to be the best fit for the offered role?

The efforts taken by a good head-hunter are to take proper time to evaluate a profile and send detailed information over to the client. Their main role is to ease out the pressure of hiring managers by helping them to select the right candidate with minimum effort. The key is to minimize the number of candidates that need to be interviewed before the final selection. The saving in time and effort of the senior executives of the client organization more than compensates for the head-hunter’s fees. 

Head-hunters keep candidates engaged and well prepared about their scheduled interview, which in turn boosts their confidence. Also, the hiring manager gets a sense that he is going to interview the most suitable candidate. Through this entire process, the head-hunter can pre-emptively foresee if the applicant is suitable for the prospective role.
May other tasks performed by the head-hunter behind-the-scenes cannot be performed by an automated process based on the digital platforms. These include;

  • Provide a balanced perspective about the client organization to the candidates. This helps the candidates to make better and informed choice and increases the possibility of the new employee successfully navigating the transition.
  • Explain the positive aspects of the role to the candidate and help her understand what to expect during the interview and on the job.
  • Arrive at an independent assessment of the fitment of the candidate and screen out the apparent misfits. The head-hunter can not afford to be misled and swayed by a good-looking CV.
  • Carry out reference check about the candidate as an added input to the screening process.
  • Nurturing long term relationship with the candidates, which helps the head-hunter in zeroing on the right candidate faster than a search engine could do.
  • Continuously engage with the selected candidate and ensure that there are no communication gaps between the client and candidates.

While the digital platforms may increase the number of applicants to a position, it will actually create a problem of plenty! The real value-add is in filtering out the misfits and providing nuanced insights about the candidates, which the head-hunters seem to be doing better than the current level of AI.

While we all must face and embrace all changes that new technology brings to us, I hope that the human touch in this important human-resource process is never abdicated to Artificial Intelligence.

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