Farmer or Hunter?

People often ask me what the difference is between an internal recruiter and an executive recruiter.  In the past I always had a long winded response that outlined the differences between networks, teams, resources, and incentives but the other day that changed.

My colleague Fred Woodhouse and I were interviewing prospective candidates for a recruiter position here at Ed-Exec.  One of the candidates is a seasoned internal recruiter having worked for Coca-Cola and other large companies.  During the interview she asked just that question: What is the difference between what she has been doing as an internal recruiter and how it compared to the executive recruiter role we are trying to fill?  I was in the middle of my elaborate explanation when Fred chimed in, and ultimately made the most sense of it.  Fred explained:

“An internal recruiter is like a farmer.  They go out to into the field and spend the day picking crops.  They sort through the harvest and determine which items are ripe for market and which get thrown into the compost pile.

An executive recruiter is like a hunter.  They go out into the woods with a small group in search of only the most sought after game. Hunting requires great patience and ability to overcome failure. Often hunters will have to walk for miles and it can take days or weeks before their efforts pay off but when they do they come back with the most valued prize.”

So the next time you need to fill a position, the real question is do I need a farmer or a hunter?

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