Sigmund, Sherlock and Donald

Sigmund, Sherlock and Donald

Headhunters come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and exhibit the same range of personal merits and character strengths as the rest of the human race. The majority are honest, hardworking entrepreneurs, who work diligently to help candidates find meaningful, rewarding jobs.


I’ve found that headhunters can be divided into three different personality types:


  1. The Sigmund Freud headhunter is a kindly, wise, and empathic counselor. He or she listens carefully when you describe your values, your job preferences, your personal goals, and your family commitments. The Sigmund Freud headhunter wants to place you with a company you’ll feel comfortable working for, and will spend lots of time getting to know you.
  2. The Sherlock Holmes headhunter is a clever, relentless, goal-oriented detective, who’ll track down and contact every company which might provide a match for your skills. This type can be quite creative in discovering aspects of your background which can be successfully marketed to companies off the beaten track, or only peripherally related to your present industry.

    A perfect example of the Sherlock Holmes headhunter is Norman Roberts, who works out of an office in Los Angeles. It was his ingenuity that led to an unlikely (but highly successful) match in 1984. He took an unknown travel industry executive — Peter Ueberroth — and placed him as the head of the U.S. Olympic committee.

  3. The Donald Trump headhunter is the consummate deal maker. This type is less concerned with whether you’re a round or square peg, as long as you can be crunched into whatever hole may be available, or convenient. Headhunters like this tend to give the search industry a bad name because of their insensitivity to the true needs of their clients and candidates; and although they can often produce positive results, many times their high-pressure tactics lead to short-term employment.


While personality and style are important aspects to consider when selecting a headhunter, you should also evaluate the headhunter’s past results. Assuming you feel a modicum of comfort with the person you’re dealing with, it’s a good idea to check into their track record and experience level. If you discover a consistent pattern of success, you’re probably off to a good start.

Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck with the fourth type of headhunter: the Inspector Clouseau. This type embodies none of the above personality traits, only the endearing, bumbling incompetence of the movie character portrayed by the late Peter Sellers. In his Pink Panther movies, Inspector Clouseau was able to crack the trickiest cases; but only through sheer serendipity or plain dumb luck.