‘Headhunting’ is Not My Core Business

Robert Merrill
Oct 9, 2019 · 3 min read

I think I’m like the artisan bread-maker of recruiting. If recruiting had a farmer’s market, that’s the only place I would sell my wares.

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

I just sent an email to an old colleague. You know the kind:

Hey <name>, how are you? I just became aware of a xyz consultant which just hit the market and I wondered if you might be interested…

Writing words like that gave me a visceral reaction. Ug! Why? This just feels wrong. Even though, there’s nothing at all about it that is actually wrong, but I have been tainted by thousands of recruiter spam emails and junk voicemails that sound the same as this message.


And I don’t want anything to do with that kind of business — spray and pray recruiting agencies that push their message to the masses, sometimes from overseas, hoping to hit some pay dirt and peace out before the candidate screws up something royally enough you demand a refund.

And it must work, because they keep doing it. Day after every. living. day.

((( EXHALE )))

I feel I chose something better

I did the hustle and grind. I made a lot of money, too, and while it felt awesome to get #1 Recruiter of the year awards and #1 Gross profit recruiting branch of the year and sales awards and bonuses and all of those other things, I also realized I was missing something in the end. I felt hollow when I looked back. When I dug deeper, I realized I pretended I cared about my candidates so that I could fill jobs, and I pretended I cared about my clients so that I could fill jobs.

But when I seriously stepped back and searched my behaviors and feelings, I cared about filling jobs, sure, but because filling jobs led to a paycheck and those elusive and fleeting locker-room-talk laden attaboys that seem to permeate this industry like kudzu. Boiler room reference, anyone?

I’d like to think I am a craftsman

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Maybe this is me having too high of an ideal for myself, but I think there’s a better way to recruit. A more human way to help companies with that all-too-important task of finding people to do meaningful work in their organizations.

Not just pushing resumes and wasting people’s time.

I guess, it’s just that I am not into recruiting for the masses. I enjoy custom-fit recruitment solutions so perfectly aligned with a company’s vision and culture you don’t know I am there.

  • There’s no awkward headhunter to internal-recruiter handoff (drop off?) step.
  • There’s no strange, wrong “tell me who you are before I tell you my client’s name” whack-a-mole games.

I feel like my company has, thankfully, been able to remove a lot of the glam and glad-handing from this industry. And I think my clients appreciate that.

I don’t have a thousand so-called clients (names on a call sheet) I mercilessly pound with emails and voicemails hoping to wear them down and get a once-a-year commission from.

I have a small, handful of clients, very carefully chosen. And I really, really care about helping them succeed, because we’re partners, and what matters to them matters to me.


Hire Smart or Manage Tough

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store