Ben Keighley, director of says everyone is expecting your call.

Headhunting for All.

The very word ‘headhunter’ used to send a chill through the heart of executives who were fearful of losing their stars. It was a sport played by firms who could afford to hire the best and succeed in attracting those who didn’t even realise they were looking to move.

Headhunting appeared in an age when the vast majority of the population still believed they ought to be grateful just to have a job at all. This was before flexible working, professional development and the fairground-like distractions of WeWork. It was the age of the water cooler and not much else. The ‘lower ranks’ counted their blessings.

But times have changed.

Now everyone, quite rightly, wants to be treated well and made to feel valued by their employer. Beer on tap and funky decor can take some of the credit. But tech is helping make this happen at the point of hiring too.

You used to have to go to jobs boards or a newspaper to find your next move. Now, social media, including but not limited to LinkedIn, means the modern workforce is permanently on parade.

And nothing says ‘you’re special’ like proactively communicating to people that they’re exactly what you’re looking for.


Intelligent software is already presenting job adverts to the right candidates. It can even pick the time of day that your target is most likely to see it and tell them how closely they fit the required profile and why.

Modern headhunting is proactively going after candidates to tempt them with positions that are right for them – whether they’re looking or not.

Recruiters, whether agents or companies, can match job adverts with candidates with eerie accuracy. This means scaling headhunting is no longer an issue. The first phone call is still in-bound and it’s less expensive than a traditional advertising campaign because the risk-reward is better.

So what else will change?

Well, for one, headhunting used to signal sky-high salaries for a lucky few. But as this brave new world of recruitment ventures into new territory, it’s no longer going to be about decimal places.

For the teachers, graphic designers, HR professionals, nurses, marketing professionals and others, we’re not going to be talking about stratospheric pay rises. It’s going to be more about packages.

But the big win is diversity. When a robot hands a list of interested candidates to a recruiter based on detailed criteria they drafted, it’s much more difficult for other, irrelevant considerations about a person’s appearance or background to creep in.

The great irony is that headhunting, which might have been considered elitist in the past, is now the engine that will actually deliver greater diversity.


And it could happen faster than you think. Low unemployment and the highly referenced exit of many immigrant workers from the UK – the so-called Brexodus – mean any tool that delivers workers to the right roles quickly will receive a lot of attention.

Only headhunting can unblock the 80 per cent of passive workers already in jobs and not looking to move.

Lastly, there’s the vicious cycle. The more recruiters and companies headhunt in this way, the more others will have to follow suit. They, too, will come to recognise that a generation brought up on targeted advertising through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat expect no less than the same from the recruitment process.

The best candidates will come to know that they get direct, tailored approaches all the time, whether they are looking or not. The value of the jobs board will diminish as the well of candidates proactively searching for roles dwindles.

Now anyone can be headhunted. Ultimately, that will mean everyone is.

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