But they are still living now and have extended their geographic footprint around the globe.
In the old days they performed their bizarre rituals as part of their lives as warriors with great honour for their deeds. Headhunting has been around from ancient times, and the Indians of Ecuador and Peru were experts. Their practice was to produce a shrunken head the size of an orange which they then traded for goods which they needed to survive.
The general idea was that the head represents the core of the personality and to take it was both an act of violence and an insult to the victim. They believed that the soul is concentrated in the head and that taking an enemy’s head weakens an enemy’s community.
In many headhunting societies taking a head was considered a rite of manhood. Headhunters claimed the heads as trophies and displayed them to increase their personal reputations and that of their tribe as a whole, with the added bonus of helping to intimidate current and future enemies.
Today, headhunters live all over the world. They live under the guise of recruitment agents; the people that will help you find a job and feed you with hope.
They are the hunters of heads for profit. They do not follow tribal rituals or any strict moral codes. The heads they capture in their hunt are sold for cash; not traded for commodities.
I do not hate these people. In fact I have personal friends who are in the industry in other tribes you could say. But I have something to say to them and I do hope that they will listen and learn from my words.
Months ago I applied for a dream job that I found on the web through a recruitment agent. Two weeks later they called me to say that I had been selected for an interview with them and that I was one of the top five chosen out of over two hundred applicants. I was very excited as the interview had gone very well. The job was a senior management position in the real estate industry; half a mil a year he said, guaranteed.
A week later the recruiter called me to say that I had been shortlisted by the employer and was number two on the list of preferred candidates. I never heard from him again – but I will always remember his name.
Modern day headhunters seem to have lost the two most important skills that they need to survive – they are called communication and compassion.
These are the morals of this story:
- Remember that human beings are your stock in trade.
- The very best of recruitment agents don’t sit at their desks ploughing through hundreds of applications from candidates. They pro-actively contact the people who they feel best fit their client’s brief, and it doesn’t concern them at all if their prospect is already working for another company.
- Note that your market is not just the employer that pays your fee. It is also your candidates because they can generate business for you by referral and recommendation by word of mouth.
- Candidates have long memories, especially when they are employed again in new jobs.
- Don’t trust recruitment agents unless they know that it is a two-way street.
- Headhunters from old times will respect your head more if they can get it and then you can live a decent life in a museum. You won’t get paid for it but you will retain your dignity.
- Don’t look for a job on the internet, you will end up disappointed.
- Go for a job directly to the companies that you are interested in working for, not for ones who may be interested because you need a job. Phone them – don’t email them, and say ‘I want to work for you.’ Then they will ask ‘Why?’ and you can reply ‘Because I have headhunted YOU, you are the best, and I will add value to your business.’
- Win-win all round.