Direct application or head hunter? Two methods compared

If you do not have insiders in the target company who can introduce you to the selection process manager, the typical routes to participate in a selection process for a position of your interest are two: submitting a direct application or engaging a head hunter to bring you to the company’s attention.


These two methods are not necessarily alternatives, and it is certainly possible to pursue both at the same time, as long as the applications do not overlap.


But what are the pros and cons of these two options? Let’s look at them in order.



1. Direct application


Typically, if you submit a direct application, you will respond to an advertisement for a specific position or be contacted by the HR department following your spontaneous application on the company’s website or contact on social media.

You will be in direct contact with the company’s HR department.

Before the interview, you will most likely be able to evaluate a job description, which has potentially been drafted accurately and updated according to the company’s current needs. After an initial screening contact with HR, you will then have the opportunity to interview with the position manager and proceed in the selection process.


At least until the first interview, you should always consider the possibility that there are misaligned parameters between you and the position in question. By proceeding with the application without preselection, you may find yourself off target on issues such as economic expectations, location, percentage of business trips, presence or absence of smart working, classification, or other aspects.


The quality level of your selection process experience (“candidate experience”) will depend on the organization, professional dedication, and promptness of the interlocutors you will interface with, and initially, it will be strongly conditioned by the availability of the HR area interlocutors. Clearly, anyone you meet will be oriented towards the company’s interests, and you will have to take care of aspects such as the negotiation of expectations, economic parameters, contractual clauses, and the elements of flexibility that interest you.


2. The head hunter’s intervention


If you find yourself in a selection process guided by a head hunter, it is possible that you have applied to an advertisement from the selection company (there are indeed less proactive companies that use this methodology) or you will have been contacted directly by your interlocutor.


Typically, you can expect the head hunter to present the position in detail during the first interaction (by phone, via skype, or in person). A good head hunter will know the company and will be able to highlight the pros and cons of the arrival position and work context compared to your current one,


They should also be able to tell you from the start if your wishes fall within the remuneration parameters provided by the company and if elements such as location, smart working, travel align from both sides.


It is possible that the head hunter personally knows the manager the position reports to, and in this case, you will have the opportunity to collect further information on the subject.


Surely, the interview with the head hunter represents an additional step compared to a direct application, and it is possible that a non-positive evaluation on their part may preclude further steps. Sometimes, the head hunter will have received the mandate to proceed without disclosing the company (the reasons can be various, but typically it is a position not yet known internally or on which they want to keep competitors in the dark). In this case, you will have partial information, but consider that in any case, it would be a position to which it would not be possible to apply directly precisely because of the secrecy of the process.


A good head hunter will help you prepare for each interview and will communicate a specific feedback to you after each step, when available.


Above all, they can act – in the offer phase – as your “lawyer” during a possible negotiation about the economic and material elements of the package, having the double advantage of knowing well the interlocutors of the destination company, and being able to act without a direct interest and therefore with greater detachment in arguing your requests and making your needs known, allowing you to focus on the contents of the position and the main drivers of the decision to be made.


It is not infrequent that the head hunter finds himself mediating in a real negotiation aimed at aligning the interests of all parties, and as an agent interested in the positive conclusion of the process, you can expect a high level of service and a significant effort to enable you to obtain the best realistically achievable conditions.


Finally, the head hunter can support you in the resignation phase and in organizing the pragmatic aspects related to the change of company (or possibly city).


The presence of a head hunter will therefore appear as a guarantee for your protection put in place by the company, and in front of a high-level professional, you will surely be able to enjoy – also due to the presence of an additional interlocutor more dedicated to protecting you, a more qualitative, personalized, and tailored candidate experience.

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