Episode #163 – What is an Animal Health Headhunter or Veterinary Headhunter?

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #163 - What is an Animal Health Headhunter or Veterinary Headhunter?
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder of The VET Recruiter and workplace and workforce expert, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health Companies and Veterinary Practices identify and hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about what an Animal Health headhunter or Veterinary headhunter is. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here today.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve talked about the role that an Animal Health recruiter and Veterinary recruiter plays in the employment marketplace. Today, we’re talking about an Animal Health headhunter and Veterinary headhunter. Are these basically the same thing?

Stacy: Actually, yes. They are the same thing. However, there are probably some people in our listening audience who have never heard the term headhunter, or if they have, they might not know that it means the same thing as a recruiter or search consultant.

Julea: Stacy, let’s talk about that term for just a minute—headhunter. Does that actually refer to someone who “hunts heads”?

Stacy: Well, not literally! But yes, when it comes to the employment marketplace and the search profession, recruiters and search consultants do “hunt heads” in a figurative sense. Specifically, they hunt for top talent for their clients’ open positions. I guess you could say that they “hunt the heads” of top candidates in the marketplace.

Julea: And what is a headhunter? Are recruiters like you, who work for an outside search agency, called headhunters? Or are internal recruiters or corporate recruiters that work directly for companies and organizations also called headhunters?

Stacy: Those are excellent questions, and I have some answers for you today and I hope this will help our listening audience. First of all, as you mentioned, there is a difference between an agency recruiter and an internal or corporate recruiter. An agency recruiter works for a recruiting agency or search firm, while an internal or corporate recruiter works directly for an organization or the company who is hiring.

That being said, the term headhunter typically refers to an agency recruiter.

Julea: So if I were to call you an Animal Health headhunter or Veterinary headhunter, it would be accurate?

Stacy: Yes, it would. And yes, I’ve been called that before.

Julea: And you’re okay with being called a headhunter?

Stacy: I am okay with that. I’m not offended by it. I know that some recruiters might be offended by being called a headhunter, but I’m not. I think it’s simply a slang term for what recruiters do, and when you think about it, the term is basically accurate. I also like the old-school feel that the term has, because I would definitely classify myself as an old-school executive recruiter and search consultant.

Julea: And this was a term that was used in the past and not necessarily today?

Stacy: It is true that the term headhunter was used more often and more widely twenty or thirty years ago. While it’s not used as much today, it is used by people every once in a while. However, it’s mostly used by people who are recruiters or search consultants or by people who work within the search profession in some other capacity.

Julea: Stacy, is there a negative connotation associated with the term? And when I say that, I mean do candidates and hiring managers associate negative connotations with the term headhunter?

Stacy: There could be, but I am not bothered by the term. I have come to embrace it over the years. I think that has more to do with some candidates and hiring managers associating negative connotations with some agency recruiters and search consultants.

Julea: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: The recruiting profession is like any other profession. There are some “bad apples” in the bunch, so to speak. Unfortunately, when inexperienced or unethical recruiters interact with candidates and hiring managers, they give the whole profession a bad name. Some people assume that the negative experience they had with one recruiter will be the same with every recruiter, and they mistakenly believe that’s just how search consultants and headhunters are and how they operate.

Julea: But that’s not the case?

Stacy: Absolutely not! There are many ethical recruiting agencies and firms that operate with a high level of integrity. And you could call the recruiters working in those agencies headhunters, and it would not change the fact that they operate with integrity.

Integrity is very important to our firm. It is the foundation of our business and one of our firm’s core values is to act with integrity. That is why we require each of our recruiters during their first year with our firm to become certified as a Certified Personnel Consultant or CPC. We go through ethics training and legal training, take a class, pass a test and do ongoing continuing education to keep us this certification. Our firm is also a National Association of Personnel Services certified Search Firm or NAPS certified and  only a small number of firms who have achieved this certification. It takes some effort to achieve this certification and to keep it up year after year. We are very proud to have this certification.

NAPS has standards and ethical practices that our firm follows. For example, candidates shall be referred to employer/clients for interviews only on job openings for which at least verbal authority h as been given by the employer or client. This means we will only refer one of our candidates on a bonafide job opening and not toss their resume around trying to fish for an opening like an unethical search firm would do. We have unfortunately seen this unethical behavior especially by search firms that are based outside of the United States. I even received a resume myself from one of those search firms.  The interesting thing is  that the recruiter from this search firm in the UK sent me a resume for someone I already know and am already working with and have his resume. I called my candidate and asked why a search firm in the UK had sent his resume to me and he did not know. He said he was not familiar with the recruiter or the search firm and did not know how they got their resume.  Apparently, that search firm in the UK didn’t realize I was with a search firm and must have thought I was the employer who was hiring the veterinarian sent they sent his person’s resume to me. They clearly were confused. We also had a search firm outside the US plagiarize our website. We had another search firm outside of the US try to use our name and it seemed like they were pretending to be affiliated with us. We have unfortunately seen some firms not act with integrity. Integrity is important to us.  Other NAPS standards of ethical practices include accurately representing information about the job to candidates. Other ethical practices include taking precaution against referring any candidate to an employer or clients who are known to engage in illegal or questionable business practices that might jeopardize the safety of the candidate. Other ethical practices include only using information about the candidate for the purpose of finding employment for that candidate. Confidential information shall be treated accordingly.  When we work with clients, we also have standards of ethical practices we follow. For example, a candidate’s employment record, education, qualifications and salary requirement shall be stated to the employer/client as accurately and fully as possible. A candidate shall be referred to the employer/client which may be given verbally.  Confidential information relating to the business policy of the employer/clients which is imparted as an aid to the effective handling of their job requirements, shall be treated accordingly. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, a recruiter shall not attempt to recruiter candidates for placements who are still employed by the company with whom they have been placed by the recruiter’s firm, unless the candidate directly requires the  recruiter’s assistance in seeking new employment. Resumes of candidates presented to employer/clients shall represent bonafide candidates. In the absence of an agreement to the contract, a recruiter shall not attempt to recruit for placement candidates employed by a client company within one year of the most recent placement with that client company at the same location, unless the candidates directly requires the recruiter’s assistance in seeking new employment.

Julea: Stacy, that is great information and operating with standards and ethics is very important.

Moving along, I have a question about the term headhunter.  Is one of the reasons that the terms Animal Health headhunter and Veterinary headhunter aren’t used as much today because they’re not politically correct and quite possibly offensive? I know you said earlier that you would not be offended if someone called you a headhunter, but do you think that other people or society at large has a different viewpoint?

Stacy: I think there are some people in the employment marketplace and within society who believe that the term headhunter is a derogatory term, and I absolutely understand why that’s the case. It is a problematic term, that’s for sure, depending on how you look at it. And to clarify, I’m not endorsing the usage of the term. All I’m saying is that I would not be offended if someone called me an Animal Health headhunter or Veterinary headhunter. There is a difference.

Julea: Stacy, I’d like to talk about a related term that’s used in connection with recruiters, and that word is poaching. That term is also a bit derogatory in nature, isn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, it is, although in reality, it simply describes the act of recruiting someone who is already employed. The problem occurs when people who have a negative impression of the word poaching carry that negative impression over to the practice of recruiting.  For example, poaching in the context of trespassing on private property in order to hunt and fish is wrong. Poaching in that sense if very wrong!

However, in the world of recruiting, I have come across more than one person during my career as an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter—and headhunter—who believed that contacting someone who already has a job about an employment opportunity is somehow unethical.

Julea: Really?

Stacy: Yes, really, and it’s happened with more frequency during the past few years. And the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with recruiting and there’s nothing wrong with poaching, either, since those two terms are similar. To help drive home this point, I’d like to reference a passage from the book titled The Recruiter is Your Friend: This Ain’t Your Granddaddy’s Job Search by Kristen M. Hallows.

“Unlike a military raid, recruiters don’t take hostages; they simply offer better opportunities for potential candidates to consider. Employees are not owned; they choose what is best for them and their families. If they opt to take advantage of a new opportunity, the shame should not be on the recruiter, but rather on the former employer for taking them for granted and not insuring that the best opportunity was being delivered!”

Julea: So what that passage is essentially saying is that no one steals candidates.

Stacy: That’s right! To use an analogy that I’ve used before, no one walks into an organization, knocks an employee unconscious, stuffs that employee into a large duffel bag, and then drags them across the street to work for another employer. A recruiter does not force people to work for another organization. All they do is present an employment opportunity to them. It is up to the person whether or not they want to consider the opportunity, and ultimately, to pursue it.

Julea: Stacy, I would imagine there might be some members of our listening audience who are thinking “Of course a recruiter would say something like that!” What would you say to that?

Stacy: I would say that it’s more than just my opinion. It’s also the opinion of the Anti-Trust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. That’s because that division investigates no-poach and wage-fixing agreements between employers. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, no-poach agreements are illegal because they rob employees of labor market competition. This, in turn, deprives them of job opportunities, information, and the ability to use competing offers to negotiate better terms of employment. And I took those words right from the Department of Justice website.

In fact, some large employers have paid the price for trying to stop poaching.

Julea: What do you mean?

Stacy: Large Silicon Valley technology companies had to shell out $415 million a few years ago to put to rest an anti-poaching civil lawsuit that was filed by former employees. The lawsuit accused the companies of conspiring not to hire each other’s workers.

Julea: So obviously, poaching is not illegal.

Stacy: Correct! According to the Anti-Trust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, no-poach and wage-fixing agreements are NOT legal. In other words, the U.S. Department of Justice has no problem whatsoever with recruiters poaching professionals from employers. The Department of Justice encourages labor market competition and giving professionals access to job opportunities and information.

Julea: And that’s what recruiters do, correct?

Stacy: Yes. Recruiters—and headhunters—provide access to job opportunities and provide information to professionals so those professionals can engage in labor market competition to improve their employment situation. In short, they do exactly what the U.S. Department of Justice wants them to do. This promotes free commerce.

Julea: So what’s the bottom line with the whole headhunter vs. recruiter debate?

Stacy: Well, I think the bottom line is the same bottom line that exists for many scenarios within the employment marketplace, and that’s results. What kind of results can a particular recruiter or search consultant achieve, regardless of whether they’re called a headhunter or not?

Everyone wants results. Candidates want results, and employers want results. If a candidate or hiring manager decides to align themselves with a recruiter and work with one, they expect results. A recruiter should not be too worried about what people are calling them or how other people refer to them. They should be worried about achieving the results that candidates and clients want.

Julea: This really is all about personal branding, isn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, it is! And as you can see, I practice what I preach. A recruiter, search consultant, or headhunter is just like everyone else. They must brand themselves in the best way possible. And in this case, that means branding yourself as someone who can get results and get them consistently.

Specifically, those results for a recruiter or headhunter are the ability to find top talent and qualified candidates for their clients’ job orders and to help Animal Health and Veterinary professionals find premium employment opportunities that will grow their career.

Julea: So basically, what you’re saying is that it doesn’t matter what someone calls you, really. What matters the most is what they think of you in terms of the experience that you provide for them?

Stacy: That’s exactly right. A person brands themselves with their actions, everything they do and everything they don’t do, and not just their words. It’s not that I take pride in being an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter as opposed to being an Animal Health and Veterinary headhunter. It’s that I take pride in branding myself the right way: as someone who achieves results and gets those results on a consistent basis. That is much more important to me than how someone describes my occupation or my profession.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about the difference between a Veterinary recruiter and a Veterinary headhunter and the topic of poaching. And for those people who are considering a job change, there are plenty of employment opportunities on The VET Recruiter website, aren’t there?

Stacy: Yes, there are. For those listeners who want to change their current situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite them to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. We have employment opportunities available on our site, and new ones are posted on a regular basis.

Julea: Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Julea, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

Julea: That’s all for today’s show. For Stacy Pursell and everyone at The VET Recruiter, thank for your listening and we invite you to join us next time when we address more employment issues in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. We hope that you’ll join us then!