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Career insight


We recommend researching the following concepts ahead of your interview. Our focus will be to drill down on your career motivations and your understanding of the executive search field.

What does a "headhunter" or an "executive search firm" do?

This is the most important question you can ask yourself ahead of an interview with HW Anderson or any search firm.

There are several resources out there but the following provide good colour:

What’s the difference between a client and a candidate?

Simply put, clients are the companies that pay us to find talented individuals that meet their hiring requirements whereas candidates are the individuals that we represent to the companies we work with. A good headhunter balances the interest of both parties to create “win-win” outcomes.

What is a “search”?

A search is a proactive process that a hiring company initiates to fill high value or particularly challenging vacancies within their organization. As opposed to targeting active or unemployed job seekers, a search scours the market to extract talent from direct competitors.

What is “headhunting”?

Headhunting refers to the process of identifying a candidate, building a relationship with them, assessing their specific strengths and weaknesses and discerning whether to present them to the client based on their unique circumstances and aspirations.

What is “mapping”?

Mapping refers to the research process a headhunter undertakes both at the commencement and throughout a search project. HW Anderson’s research process is bespoke and focuses on drawing up a directory of suitable competitor firms and talent pools tailored to the specification of the search we’re working on. This helps us to ensure a comprehensive search is delivered.

What is the difference between retained and contingent?

A retained search has a fee structure whereby a portion of the fee is paid at the commencement of a search, a portion is paid on the completion of the mapping and delivery of a “shortlist” of candidates and the balance of the fee is paid on successful hire of a candidate. Contingent fees are paid out solely on successful hire of a candidate.

How do search firms make money?

Headhunters generate “placement fees” through successfully placing candidates and are rewarded a fee by the client company which is based on a % of the candidates first year earnings. For example, if a candidate accepts an offer with a base salary of $200k and a sign on of $200k the fee would be 30% of the combined $400k, generating $120k of fee income for the headhunter. Search firms can also sell market intelligence in the form or compensation and/or competitor organizational structure mapping.