Why We’re (Not) Working with Headhunters/Recruitment Agencies/Executive Search Companies

Mar 12, 2020

Dear headhunter/executive search specialist/recruitment agent/etc. Please insert your title, you know what I mean. ;-)

I’m on your side and have been for the past nine years. I started my career as a headhunter, had my own recruiting company for a while, and really do understand what it is that you’re doing day in and day out, and how hard it is to find those passive candidates who are not actively looking for a new job.

I also know how annoying it can be to be told by someone within the company that they don’t work with headhunters only to find out that somebody else of the same company will tell you that they are in fact desperate to find new people and do consider getting external help. And I also know that quite a few of you might have been taught to “work around HR” or even to “never speak to HR and go straight to the decision-makers”.

Over the past two years, we’ve received more and more emails with collaboration requests, unsoliticed CV specs (sometimes anonymized and sometimes even with full data — not sure how that’s a thing post-GDPR “revolution”) or intros to specialised/exclusive platforms.

We’ve rejected almost all requests for collaboration and there is a simple — yet almost unbelievable — reason for it. We simply don’t need them (yet) — I know, that’s really hard to believe in today’s massive shortage of skilled professionals. So let me give you some facts and figures (we’re claiming to be fully transparent after all) ;-) to support this outrageous and oftentimes ignored claim.

In 2019, 129,591 people took a look at our job ads and we received a staggering 3 154 applications. Out of these, unfortunately, we had to disqualify 2823 but had more than 372 interviews (1st and 2nd) which eventually lead to 34 new team members for 2019. All without the help of a recruitment agent or even without doing any active search on social media ourselves.

So, as you can see, I really am not lying or trying to get you off my case when I say that we really don’t need any external help in filling those positions for now.

However, I can’t finish this, without giving you a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. We do — very occasionally — work with specialised headhunting agencies who still take the time to actually talk to people.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not a fan of any “specialised platform” that I should subscribe to in order to search for the candidates myself.

We have various platforms and the skills to do that ourselves. I appreciate if headhunters take the time to speak to people and establish an actual relationship with their candidates, as I believe that only this way they’ll find out if the candidate would be happy working for Giant Swarm.

So in the end, what I’m trying to bring across is, please do send your emails through, but also please respect that when I tell you that for that specific position, we really don’t need any external help, I actually mean it.

I don’t like ignoring emails (unless it’s a mass-mail with a candidate spec that you sent out to ALL your contacts) so I want to make sure that you do get your reply. After all, you invest your time into writing it, which shouldn’t be ignored.

And on a final personal note, please don’t try and work around our people ops then because, in the end, all your emails will just be forwarded to us. ;-) So, there is no way to avoid us.

Thank you,


Giant Swarm HR Manager

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