Headhunters identify and approach suitable candidates, usually employed elsewhere, to fill business positions. We often get asked how we operate and why we are different to ‘normal’ recruitment agencies. You know, the type you find on the High Street, where you can literally just walk into, armed with a briefcase of CVs.

Well, firstly our full company name should help clarify things – ‘Greybridge Search & Selection’. We are first and foremost a ‘search’ company. This means that we receive a brief from a client and effectively search for potential candidates to complete the mandate, within the interrelated fields of Strategy, Change and Transformation. The search can involve scouring our own databases, contacting past or current candidates, checking referrals we’ve received and using resources such as Linked-In to search and select for the right candidates.

Unlike many recruitment agency websites, you may have noticed that ours does not have a CV upload function. This is because we don’t actively encourage candidates to randomly send in their details, before we’ve at least had a conversation. The roles, areas of expertise that we operate in, is niche. The experience required is usually fairly senior (Director/COO/Partner level). It’s pointless wasting candidates’ time and our own so we insist on a conversation first.

1. The Roles Aren’t Advertised

Generally the roles we receive from our clients haven’t been advertised and as a rule, we don’t advertise roles. Therefore, if we reach out to you, it’s worth having the conversation as the chances are, you won’t have access to this opportunity any other way. Recruitment Agencies on the other hand will almost always advertise roles, in order to attract jobseekers to apply for them.

2. Active Versus Non Active JobSeekers

A recruitment agency generally adopts a more reactive approach to their search. This means they will advertise a role in order to attract active jobseekers. However, as headhunters, 90% of the candidates we shortlist for interview, aren’t active in the marketplace. This means, they are currently in employment and not ‘looking’ for a new role as such. But they have been ‘found’ and contacted by our qualified consultants because they have the skills, experience and personality required by the hiring company.

3. Level of Seniority

Group_of_Executives_In_BoardroomWithout over generalising, the type of positions recruitment agencies are filling, tend to be of a lower level and pay. They could also be working on multiple roles at once, with different clients and recruiting candidates who are potentially less specialised.

More often than not, the roles we are working on range from Senior Management to Board level, with a salary to match. The hiring company usually requires someone with specific technical experience or a specialised skillset. The kind of professionals required to fill these roles don’t come along everyday and are rarely on the job market. Hence, the need for a search and selection specialist, a headhunter, to proactively go to market and find the right person for the role.

4. Time Taken to Complete A Mandate

A recruitment agency usually manages multiple roles at any one time. When filling more junior positions, naturally the fee the agency will earn per vacancy will be less. Quantity is therefore vital and the hiring process needs to be as short and succinct as possible.

Conversely, the hiring process we manage can be long, tiresome and sometimes it feels unnecessarily drawn out. Managers_conducting_an_interview

The hiring company is making a huge commitment to the candidate and vice versa. A professional of this calibre and level will need to go through a number of interviews, meet various heads of the company and their notice period might also be lengthy.

Frustratingly, from receiving the mandate to the candidate starting the position, can take from three to six months. Some Partner Roles within our Life Sciences division have even taken up to nine months to complete. Arranging for multiple senior executives to meet a prospective Board Member can take some organising and coordinating diaries can be virtually impossible.

Such time delays requires the consultant to provide a great deal of support and encouragement to the candidate, in case they start losing confidence in the process. However, we actively do everything we can to speed up the process, keep the dialogue going and to ensure a fantastic candidate doesn’t get tempted by an alternative job offer.

5. Relationship Building

Every successful company relies on building strong relationships with clients and customers in order to survive. However, with recruitment agencies, filling roles and moving on to the next one is essential.

For more specialist consultancies and headhunters, the only way we can be successful is by building strong relationships. We need total trust from the client. Recruiting can be an expensive business and they only want to work with consultants who will find and give them the best. They don’t want to take the risk of hiring a candidate, who then walks out of the door after three months and they are back to square one.

Man-Woman_Shaking-Hands_In-OfficeThis is why it’s essential we get to really know our candidates. We need to ensure that the skills and experience they have on paper, not only match the mandate but that their values, ethics and culture are also a match with the hiring company. We also endeavour to work closely with the hiring company to ensure the onboarding process is above expectation and carried out effectively. Hence, the time we invest into each role is significant. Thankfully, such commitment usually pays off with not only the client returning to us time and time again but also the candidate.


While headhunters and recruitment agencies might seem to do the same job, the process each utilises is very different. The niche field that we operate in, means we need to be proactive in order to find the person with the precise skillset, knowledge, experience and personality required.

We have access to people who are not on the job market and are unlikely to respond to a job advertisement because they are not in that mindset. When we contact them, whether they know us or not, they usually appreciate they have been singled out. These type of opportunities don’t come around every day and the majority of candidates realise this.

As a client, the right type of recruiter for you will very much depend on the factors outlined above.

Greybridge Search & Selection are specialists in the recruitment of Change, Transformation and Strategy Management professionals. Our case studies are testament to the type of mandates we receive and successfully complete.