With increasing recruitment startups, what will be the fate of headhunters?

With increasing recruitment startups, what will be the fate of headhunters?


The Internet has always taken a certain pleasure in removing the middleman – or at least, drastically changing how they think about their role in a sector. Travel advisors, ad agencies, taxi dispatchers – if your job was more or less an ‘operator’ or a go-between between two parties, there will be an Internet startup who will automate that.

Most recently, there have been a flurry of new recruitment tools offering to put top talent in touch with  companies who are recruiting. Modern day auction blocks for developers, US-based Hired.com recently launched in London, while local startups Talent.io & Breaz have been iterating on the model for the past year. The startups select a weekly selection of candidates, send notifications out to recruiters, who can then view the profile (anonymized and sometimes hidden from a candidate’s current employer), can propose a job/salary to the candidate, who can then weigh his offers and accept, refuse, or negotiate on the salary. The startups all take a cut of the annual salary, similar to headhunters, and they all push the notion that headhunters are yesterday’s news. At the same time, players like Talent.io are founded by headhunters, and are mostly driven by talent hunting teams who source & qualify profiles – modern day headhunters.

Headhhunters & recruitment firms continue to make up a large portion of the recruitment budget for HR – it’s just not that easy to find the right candidate – there is certainly a shift in what it means to be a recruiter. The founders of Paris based recruitment firm Mobiskill, Jean-Noël Houdu and Baptiste Vavdin,have a different vision for the future, which has come together with the launch of their new platform, YBorder. Not to be confused with YCombinator, YBorder operates similar to the aforementioned recruitment platforms with a unique but disruptive difference: As the sourcing of the best-qualified candidates is the most challenging part in recruitment, YBorder does not wait for talents to join the platform. Rather, YBorder is a network of specialized and local headhunters who already possess a pool of qualified talents in their local market.

“We are increasingly seeing candidates, at least 20% of our qualified talents, looking to move abroad; however, our recruiter base is historically locally based, so we were faced with the question: how can we take advantage of our ability to source great talents if we can’t place them with our clients? This is how Yborder was born. We spoke to the top IT recruitment firms in Europe and found, not surprisingly, that they had the same problem as us, so we decided to create a platform that joined together the best recruitment firms to give international visibility to candidates that we couldn’t place at a local level” – Baptiste Vavdin & Jean-Nöel Houdu, co-founders of YBorder

Today YBorder counts 15 exclusive partnerships with European recruitment firms representing more than 100 headhunters. These specialists can handpick their best candidates, all keen on gaining international work experience, and promote their skills on the platform which were previously translated by the headhunters into an easy-to-read and easy-to-compare CV format.

With YBorder, hiring digital companies are able to get exclusive access to the crème de la crème the European digital tech scene has to offer thus taking direct advantage of the candidate’s interest in moving abroad.

The platform has only just launched, but Yborder’s founders say that companies are already flocking to the site, and in the coming months he hopes to help US companies recruit European candidates (right now US companies are prompted to confirm they will offer a VISA to qualified candidates).

Speaking with the founders, I feel like YBorder represents a different future for recruitment, one that makes use of the necessity to have humans qualifying candidates, but uses technology to scale up their ability to place candidates in companies.

We’ll have both YBorder & Talent.io speaking at our HIRE conference this Saturday about the future of recruitment. Sign up here to attend!