Not once have I placed a candidate who the paying client couldn't have found on their own just by using their existing network of employees, colleagues, vendors, clients and other professional contacts.
Let's backward-engineer that fact. Not once have I placed a candidate with a paying client who couldn't have networked his or her way to that job on their own. In every case where I've been paid a ridiculous fee for "finding" an executive, a sales rep, a marketing guru, an architect, an engineer, a nurse, a respiratory therapist, a pharmacist or other professional, that successful candidate was already socially and professionally networked to the hiring client and could have networked themselves to the job had they simply worked their existing networks.
If you haven't been living under a rock and you have any work experience at all you probably already know somebody who can introduce you to your next boss.
I've just divulged a fact that other headhunters don't want you to know.
There are two major reasons employers pay ridiculous headhunting fees instead of just becoming their own headhunters: (1) laziness and (2) total cluelessness about how to use their existing networks of employees, clients, vendors and other professional contacts. At a recent trade show I was approached by a man I didn't know who wanted me to find him a selling branch manager in Carbondale, IL. Since I didn't know the man and perform search work by referral only, I declined the search but offered to show him how to do the search himself. I promised him that I could sit down with him and show him how to fill this job himself by using Linkedin. Free. He didn't want to do it himself and asked me again if I would do the search for him.
Invariably, when I "find" the candidate my client wants to hire, I do so by networking with people who could have introduced the client to that candidate if only the client had asked.
Most of what headhunters do is simple networking. Employers and job seekers can use that fact to become their own headhunters and network their way to solving their problem.
Read my February 28 thru March 5 posts on how to get a "social co-signer" to introduce you to your next boss.
For more on how to network your way to your next job, read my February 28 thru March 5 posts.