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Post-Industrial Headhunting

One of the stranger animals that has developed in the business world in recent years is the executive search firm, or, as it is more commonly called, the "headhunter". When a company needs an employee or an executive with certain skills, often these skilled people cannot be found on the job market. When this happens, a headhunter can be contacted for help. A headhunter searches other companies for qualified staff, and when they find someone with the necessary skills, they will contact the person and invite them to apply for a job with another company, often a competitor. If a person is not happy with their existing job, perhaps the headhunter can find them a more satisfying position with another company.

Suppose you are the president of a large company and you need an employee with certain specialized skills - genetic engineering, for example. You have no genetic engineers in your company, and there are no suitable candidates on the job market. In this case, a headhunting agency can be employed to search other companies for someone with the skills you need. If they find someone, they will contact them, and offer them various inducements (better salary, more benefits, a bigger office, etc.) to quit their current job and to join your company.

Headhunting agencies have created a lot of controversy in the business world. They have been accused of "stealing" valued employees from companies and have been called "vicious intruders" in the job market. In some cases, an employee is able to get a better job, with more benefits, with another company through a headhunter and they leave their own company voluntarily. In other cases, however, headhunting agencies have used high-pressure tactics to try to persuade people to leave their jobs and join another company; often this causes embarassment at their current job.

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