You might think that history's top headhunters are stealthy, upscale professionals who have the contact info of all America's top executives squirreled away in their iPhones, and the knowledge of who can be induced to go where for the right price. Not so, according to jobs expert Jeff Christian, founder of CTPartners.
"The top recruiters are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and John Chambers [chairman of the board and CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc.]," according to Christian. "Rather than conducting searches for a fee, their model was to gobble up incredible talent. They knew how to scale companies and leverage talent into exponential revenue gain."
Bill Gates, Microsoft: "Bill Gates was focused on personally recruiting the best breakthrough software experts. He sat at his desk, hiring search people like me, but in reality, outpaced all of us in the number of recruiting calls he made and the amount of time he spent recruiting. Success for Bill Gates was based on how fast he could recruit all the best software people out of Xerox, Apple, IBM -- anywhere the best talent existed. He knew that if he could corner the market on software talent, he could corner the market on software.
"Gates is arguably the best headhunter in corporate history," continued Christian. "He had an almost unquenchable thirst to have all of the best software people working at Microsoft and knew that talent equals revenue and great talent means hyper-speed revenue acceleration.
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway: As Christian explains, "Even today, Buffett looks at the acquisition of companies as buying talent. Buffett looks for people who know how to win. He also maintains a stable of the very best talent to recruit into new acquisitions as necessary."
John Chambers, Cisco Systems, Inc.: According to Christian, "Chambers recruited talent by buying companies. He realized that to own the networking business, he had to recruit or buy the top networking engineers faster than anyone else. Chambers bought the network engineering market one acquisition at a time."
"Many of the top venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins, Mayfield Partners, as well as top private equity firms with whom I've worked are also among the best recruiters," Christian adds. "There is a direct connection between headhunters in disguise and mega wealth creation."
So there you have it -- the people at the top of the most successful companies are actively involved in recruiting talent. How can you apply that knowledge to your own job search? If you're a top candidate in your field, consider heading straight to the top of whatever company you're applying to -- or at least go as high up as you possibly can. The higher you go, the more invested the executive will be in bringing on the best employees.
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