History of headhunting

Top people in politics were in short supply in the United States in 1926. That's what caught the interest of Thorndike Deland at the time. The pioneer in the field of headhunting decided not to leave the finding of the right people for top positions to chance, or to wait until they responded to job advertisements. He took the issue into his own hands. His idea: to research suitable candidates and approach them directly. From the idea of the founder of the first executive search company, Thorndike Deland Executive Placement Bureau in New York, a separate industry developed around the consulting and placement of specialists and executives via executive search, direct search or active sourcing.

In Germany alone, the growing headhunting market had a turnover of 1.8 billion euros in 2016, 6650 personnel consultants and around 2000 personnel consultancies that placed over 57,000 candidates.

After the First World War, there was also a shortage of skilled personnel in Germany. Organizational consultancies and, very occasionally, personnel consultants began to become active. However, with the Proof of Employment Act of 1922 and the expanding Act on Job Placement and Unemployment Insurance of 1927, the Reichsanstalt introduced a monopoly on job placement, which completely banned commercial job placement from 1931 onwards. For better or worse, the free placement service was over for the time being.

During the Second World War, the Reich Institute restricted its work. American consultancies saw opportunities in the European market and in the 1950s dared to cross the ocean to help shape the personnel consulting market in Europe. On 10.03.1952, however, another cut followed. With the establishment of the Federal Employment Agency and Unemployment Insurance Agency, the placement monopoly remained in place. Nevertheless, companies such as SpencerStuart, Korn Ferry and Amrop Delta continued to expand into Europe in the following decades.

The end of the monopoly and the legal start for headhunting was only paved in 1991 by a decision of the European Court of Justice, which found a violation of the EEC Treaty. Since 1994, it has been possible to legally place personnel in Germany on a commercial basis in the form of e.g. personnel placement, temporary employment, employee leasing or hiring.