The suitability of social media for headhunters to recruit managers from and for the fashion business

©2014 Textbook 89 Pages


Headhunters take on an enormous responsibility with the acceptance of a mandate to search for competent, qualified top executives. In living up to expectations and identifying eligible, appropriate, high-performing candidates of great personal integrity, numerous new and partly unknown tools are available to them thanks to the rapid expansion of social media platforms. In times when recruitment tasks are increasingly performed internally by personnel managers, it is particularly crucial for headhunters to adapt to such new trends.<br>The present study examines whether social media are a suitable medium for the recruitment of executives by headhunters and identifies the new opportunities and challenges they present to recruitment experts. By means of a survey, the extent to which social media platforms are already being used by headhunters, in particular in their search for executives for the German fashion business, is investigated. Taking into account the results of this survey as well as the latest research concerning headhunters, social media and the fashion business, the study concludes by putting forward recommendations for the use of social media in headhunting executives.


Table Of Contents

5.1.4 Summary
... 27
5.2 Social media in personnel recruitment ... 28
5.2.1 Reasons and possibilities for the use of social media
... 28
5.2.2 General communities
... 29 Facebook ...30 Twitter ...30 Google+ ...30
5.2.3 Business communities
... 31 XING ...31 LinkedIn ...32 Anangu ...32
5.2.4 Summary
... 33
6 Empirical survey: Detailed analysis of interviews conducted with headhunters
in Germany ...34
6.1 Introduction of the questionnaire ... 34
6.2 Presentation of the procedure and the target group ... 35
6.3 Analysis of the particular questions ... 35
6.3.1 Sociodemographic data
... 36
6.3.2 Professional and private behaviour related to using social networks
... 36
6.3.3 Estimation of the significance of social media for recruiters
... 39
6.3.4 Measurement of the use-to-success ratio of social media in the
search for candidates
... 41
6.3.5 Scope of use and the specific reasons for the use of social media in recruitment
... 42
6.3.6 Search for additional information to assess candidates
... 43
6.3.7 Recruiters' requirements for social media
... 45
6.3.8 Changes in way of working due to social media
... 46
6.4 Supplementary results and personal comments ... 47
7 Potential of social media for headhunters ­ Overall interpretation on the basis of
relevant detailed results ...49
7.1 Relevance of the different social media portals for headhunters ... 49
7.2 Gender and age-related relevance ... 51
7.4 Estimation of the significance of social media for the recruiting process ... 52
7.5 Recruiters' needs and requirements related to social media ... 53
8 How can social media support the recruitment of executives ­ A response that takes
into account the results of the analysis ...54
8.1 Concrete recommendations for action ... 54

8.1.1 Use of social media to analyze a client's company
... 55
8.1.2 Use of social media during the research phase
... 55
8.1.3 Use of social media during the follow-up phase
... 58
8.2 Summary ... 58
9 Social media and the executive search sector ­ Conclusion and outlook ...61
Reference List: ...63

Figure 1.1: Trends and Challenges in Recruiting 2011
(Source: Study Recruiting Trends 2011)
... 2
Figure 1.2: External personnel recruiting by companies (Nicolai 2009: p.58)
... 3
Figure 3.1: Personnel recruitment process
... 14
Figure 3.2: Headhunting process (The author's conclusion from various
descriptions of the services provided by personnel consultancies)
... 15
Figure 6.1: Headhunter survey results, response to question 19
... 36
Figure 6.2: Headhunter survey results, response to question 1
... 36
Figure 6.3: Headhunter survey results, response to question 3
... 38
Figure 6.4: Headhunter survey results, response to question 4
... 38
Figure 6.5: Headhunter survey results, response to question 18
... 39
Figure 6.6: Headhunter survey results, response to question 9
... 43
Figure 6.7: Headhunter survey results, response to question 11
... 44
Figure 6.8: Headhunter survey results, response to question 12
... 45
Figure 6.9: Headhunter survey results, response to question 15
... 45
Figure 6.10: Headhunter survey results, response to question 16
... 46
Figure 6.11: Headhunter survey results, response to question 17
... 47
Appendix 1: Blank questionnaire for the empirical part
Appendix 2: Evaluation of the Headhunters survey - Table tapes
Appendix 3: Evaluation of the Headhunters Survey - Statistics frequency distribution
Appendix 4: Evaluation of the Headhunters survey - user behavior statistics

cp. compare
et cetera (and so on)
f. following
Human Resources

I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to all those who supported me in preparing this
master thesis. First of all, I would like to thank Ms Christiane Bleuel, who assisted me with
her invaluable advice, suggestions and understanding as reviewer for my thesis. Many
thanks also go to the headhunters who accompanied the empirical survey and poll with a
high degree of commitment and many useful tips and without whom it would not have been
possible to compile this work. I would especially like to thank my wife for incessantly
encouraging, motivating and supporting me during the many months of preparatory work on
the thesis, often until deep into the night. In addition, thanks also go to my father-in-law for
proofreading the master thesis, for his comments and suggestions for improvement and his
moral support.

In taking on a recruiting assignment headhunters shoulder an enormous responsibility
within the framework of the search for competent qualified executives. Thanks to the
development and expansion of a wide range of social media platforms, there are numerous,
partly unknown, possibilities and means available to meet this challenge and select and
identify suitable candidates who are willing to perform and also have a personal integrity.
This master thesis examines the exciting question of whether social media are suitable for
the recruitment of executives by headhunters, what new opportunities and tasks result from
their use and to what extent they are already being used by headhunters, in particular in
their search for executives for the fashion business in Germany. Using social media
purposefully and systematically, the suitability of potential candidates can be verified prior to
probationary periods or even personal interviews in a much better way than in former times.
In these times of demographic change, skills shortage, "War for Talents", companies
increasingly doing their own recruiting conducted by personnel managers, growing
significance of social media and resulting increase in information about persons and
companies on the Internet, headhunters in particular must prepare for these old and new
trends. The empirical study presented in this master thesis analyses the current situation
with regard to this development. Taking into account the results from the research discourse
on the topics of headhunters, social media and the fashion business and including the
results of the analysis of the study, concrete recommendations for action and potential for
the future use of social media in the recruiting of executives by headhunters are made and

1 Introduction
1.1 Initial situation und problem description
Seldom over the past few years have topics been discussed in specialist forums and
magazines of the human resources community as intensively and extensively as the use of
social media for recruiting and employer branding. Studies such as the Social Media
Recruiting Study 2012 do prove this and demonstrate at the same time that the use of
Web 2.0 methods in the search for personnel in Germany has increased from 61% up 74%
(Zils 2012: p.4).
Social media are considered to be a worldwide trend (Weinberg 2010). Growing numbers of
people place their personal data on the Internet. Thus, social networks provide an almost
unlimited pool of data on potential candidates for the recruitment of executives. One thing is
certain: The topic is here to stay. The number of nearly one billion Facebook users
worldwide in 2012 makes a powerful statement (Facebook 2012). According to a recent
study of the German Federal Statistical Office (2012) 53% of all Germans - and even 91%
of those between the ages of 16 and 24 years - are active in social networks. Thus, almost
every job holder of tomorrow is already a member of a social network today. No wonder that
authors like Meister (2007: p.90) consider social media to be a permanent fixture among the
personnel marketing and recruiting trends.
However, the question is to what extent is social media recruiting still hype and to what
degree has it already become a real benefit for the daily business in recruitment.
Using the example of the fashion and lifestyle business, this master thesis examines the
exciting question of whether and to what extent these platforms and the information that can
be found there are suitable for personnel recruiters in their search for executives. In
particular for headhunters, the answer to the question of which tools and strategies are best
suited for recruiting specialists and executives by using social media is a matter of great
urgency if they want to remain competitive and successful. At times when, thanks to the
new possibilities offered by social media, companies are increasingly conducting their own
searches for suitable candidates, a headhunter not only has to be well versed in this area,
but also has to create competitive advantages to be able to offer (again) relevant services
for companies. The subject matter of this analysis is limited to Germany that is to say to the
German fashion industry, to headhunters in Germany and to social media platforms that are
relevant for Germany.
In an initial approach to the topic of this master thesis it is necessary to take a look at the
current initial situation in personnel recruiting.
Within the framework of the study Recruiting Trends 2011 Weitzel et al. (2011: p.6) worked
out the five most important cross-company recruiting trends as well as the five most

important internal challenges regarding recruitment.
Figure 1.1: Trends and Challenges in Recruiting 2011 (Source: Study Recruiting Trends 2011)
The most important cross-company recruiting trends include the following issues: the
demographic change with its inherent change in the applicant pool; the skills shortage
resulting in a reduced number of applicants; the Bologna Process with its changeover to
Bachelor and Master programmes; new communication channels via social media, as well
as the economic crisis, which dictates tougher targets regarding efficiency and
effectiveness. This gives rise to key challenges with relevance for companies. Within the
framework of this master thesis, some of these trends are also of relevance to headhunters.
Skills shortage, that is to say a reduced number of qualified candidates, plays an important
role. In the German employment market, specialists are not available in sufficient quantity
(Kolodziej 2012: p.4).
A study conducted by McKinsey Deutschland (2011) clearly shows that personnel
recruitment is becoming increasingly challenging, thus making it more and more difficult to
fill open positions.
If a company does not find qualified employees, this is called skills shortage. This can have
negative effects on sales and economic growth as well as further expansion, or could cost
the company a great deal of money. Work as a factor of production and thus the
Top 5 topics 2011 (cross-company)
Top 5 Key challenges 2011 (internal)
1) Demographic change
Demographic change of the applicant pool
1) Employer branding
Development of an employer branding
2) Skills shortage
Shortage of qualified candidates
2) Employee retention
Keep employees in the company
3) Bologna process
Changeover to Bachelor/Master programmes
3) Internal employer branding
Stay "Employer of Choice"
4) Social media
New communication channels
4) Alignment
Interaction between HR and functional departments
5) Economic crisis
Targets related to effectiveness and efficiency
5) Support of the top management
Visibility of personnel marketing in the company

employees, too, still represent one of the most important factors for the success of a
company (Karagah 2010). The search for qualified personnel is becoming increasingly
difficult for personnel managers. Aside from the traditional employment market, an
additional applicant market has developed in the meanwhile. Companies no longer simply
wait passively for someone to apply for certain job offers. Instead, they search specifically
themselves for specialists and executives; or they engage specialised personnel service
providers to conduct the search. In the course of globalisation this search is being
hampered by the fact that, due to the supra-regional nature of employment and applicant
markets, suitable employees can only be found with increased effort. Owing to the
competition for candidates with similar qualifications the companies are engaged in a so-
called War for Talents (Strack et al. 2009: p.21) with each other. This poses a new big
challenge to recruitment.
In addition, this situation becomes still more difficult because of the rise in fluctuation and
the demographic change (Bierey 2009: pp.6-7).
Figure 1.2: External personnel recruiting by companies (Nicolai 2009: p.58)
Such a situation requires different ways to be used to make potential candidates aware of
positions to be filled. In doing this, companies can proceed in a passive or pro-active way.
In particular, regarding the filling of executive positions, the variety of possible procedures is
decreasing. In addition to the change on the employment and applicant markets there have
been other significant changes in recent years. Besides mechanisation and automation of
work processes that have persisted for years, digital communication and the interconnected
world have continued to spread increasingly via the Internet. Whereas traditional tools for
personnel recruitment no longer suffice in the War for Talents to recruit suitable specialists
and executives, the Internet and here especially Web 2.0 provide various new and thus
alternative tools and means for recruiting, such as studies like those carried out by

Schneider (2012) or Kupka (2010). The technical possibilities and the exchange of
information and communication via Internet have developed at very high speed. According
to the above-mentioned study of Weitzel et al. (2011) on Recruiting Trends 2011, the
1,000 largest German companies expect to have problems filling 36.4 % of their vacant
positions, and even 4.3 % cannot be filled at all. Participants in this study believe that
the most striking lack of suitable candidates can be found in the areas of research
and development as well as information technology.
Skills shortage has been intensified among other things by reductions in resources for
recruitment within companies owing to the economic crisis. In consideration of these
developments it is no surprise that almost seven out of ten companies believe that in
the light of the economic situation it will become even more difficult in the future to
find qualified specialists and executives on the labour market. Thus, this trend, too, will
influence the work of headhunters. In times of economic crisis there must be an on-going
optimisation in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, not only from the company's point of
It is hard to imagine our daily life without the Internet. Since the development of Web 2.0 in
particular, it has become a new platform that is perceived and used differently, where users
organise themselves and communicate with each other, in social networks for example.
This applies especially to the Generation Y (Hansen 2011), or the Millenials (Meyer 2011),
meaning the generation of those born after the year 1981 who were the first to grow up
mainly in an environment composed of the Internet and mobile communications (Weise
2011: p.15). Leisure-time activities and media behaviour have changed. Instead of reading
newspapers many members of this generation keep themselves informed via the Web.
Today, the upcoming generation of young leaders is already part of the "Digital Natives"
(Palfrey & Grasser 2008: p.1). In contrast to the people born before the 1980s, also called
baby boomers, Generation X etc., these potential candidates grew up with an affinity for
The results are largely confirmed by the current study on Recruiting Trends of 2012 (Weitzel
et. al. 2012: p. 23).
In addition, there is also an experts' look into the "crystal ball". The recruiting managers of
Germany's largest companies expect the recruiting trends of social media, Internet
recruiting, demographic change, skills shortage and employer branding to become still more
important. Mobile recruiting that provides information to potential candidates via smart-
phone is another trend; however, experts say that today it does not yet play an essential
role in the daily business of recruiters. In particular with a view to the future this is of
essential relevance regarding the subject of this master thesis. According to a study of the
Institute of Electronic Business (Sonne & Schmidt 2009: p.1) many companies are not yet

familiar with the change in distributing knowledge and information; although it is high time to
adjust to the employees of tomorrow or partially of today, the so-called Digital Natives.
Special attention is put to urgently needed identifying of suitable strategies for the
recruitment of specialists and executives.
The author's interest in this issue arises from a practical experience when searching for a
specialist for a leadership position in the fashion business. As an initial search via traditional
channels such as print media had not been successful, the subsequent active use of social
media including employing a headhunter finally led to the desired result. In addition, there is
the author's personal curiosity and a rich wealth of experience in using social media, in
particular networking via business networks.
Analysing different platforms this master thesis focuses in particular on the German fashion
business. This branch of business is small and highly specialised. Here, the search for and
employment of specialists and executives is almost entirely carried out by a manageable
number of recruitment companies. The author has many years of professional experience of
his own and extensive know-how of the sector's interior view; this is why social media as a
trend for recruiting personnel should be analysed in a field that is generally open for trends,
novelties, lifestyle and vogue. The assumption that the fashion sector is per se more
innovative and thus faster in implementing new trends has also been decisive when
narrowing down the subject matter of subject of this analysis.
Moreover, the sector is also particularly well suited for analysing the significance of social
media for recruitment. One reason is that the success of specialists and executives, in
particular in the German fashion sales business, depends on the level of networking with
important industry representatives; another reason is that affinity for fashion and sense of
lifestyle can be displayed and verified via social media portals much better than various
other qualifications.
The initial situation of this master thesis can be best described with the basic recruiting
trends; as already shown, these trends may correlate, can be mutually dependent or
reinforce each other.
It becomes increasingly difficult for companies from the fashion business - like for other
companies, too - to find highly qualified employees for even more specific positions. The
option of outsourcing the recruiting process to external service providers such as
headhunters in particular in the search for executives offers a lot of potential regarding
increased efficiency and effectiveness in personnel recruitment.
Web 2.0 and in particular social networks are becoming more and more important. The
constantly increasing number of users and the steady emergence of new social networks on
the Internet are just two indicators for this development that is accompanied by changing
lifestyle habits. Also in the area of human resource management or recruiting of specialists

and executives by headhunters, there is intensified competition for coveted personnel
resources (Bröckermann 2009: pp.61-62). On the one hand, the basic problem arises from
the increasing significance of social media in general; on the other hand, it is due to the
resulting partially changed requirements for the executive search sector, or its decreasing
relevance regarding companies conducting their own recruiting via social media. Specialists
from the headhunting sector such as Steppan (2011a: p.21) consider the work of
headhunters unlikely to change in a different way than the rest of the world with the people's
changed behaviour in communications and with rapid technological developments. All the
more relevant is therefore the question of whether there is a potential for social media for
the headhunters' work as a tool and an advantage in competition when applied in the right
way; in other words, under the term of the title of this master thesis, the question is if social
media is suited for the search for executives.
1.2 Objective of this thesis
The objective of this master thesis is to gain insights into the suitability of social media for
recruiting, in particular conducted by headhunters, when searching for specialists and
executives, taking the example of the fashion business. Up to now, there have been almost
no scientific studies on concrete solutions and practical guidelines for social media
recruiting by headhunters. Thus, a lack of a theoretical deep knowledge base can be
observed. However, without any theoretical specialist know-how the practical use of social
media in the recruiting process can only keep the status of presently successful practical
examples or pure experimenting. Up to now, it has been unknown which levers headhunters
can use efficiently to utilise social media as successfully as possible. Existing studies in the
field of web recruiting refer to the characteristics and modes of operation of websites (Allen
et al. 2007 or Braddy et al. 2006) or those of career platforms (Cappelli 2001 or Adam
To this day, no empirical studies on social networks such as Facebook and their concrete
use exist at all. Concrete strategies and recommendations for action for headhunters
regarding the practical handling and basic theoretical rules that should be adhered to exist
at best only in a very initial approach; or they have been completely absent in specialist
literature so far.
The results from this study shall finally provide a basis to identify development potential and to
make recommendations for action related to the recruiting strategies of headhunters when
using social media.
1.3 Methodological approach
Besides the presentation of the theoretical basis of the relevant sectors and topics and their

respective developments an empirical study is carried out.
The theoretical part consists of initially four chapters. At the beginning, there is a
presentation of the fashion business and its suitability for the subject matter of this master
thesis. Then, there is an overview of the history of development, the existential basic
conditions as well as an analysis of the headhunters' tasks. After that, the significance of
social media in general as well as within the context of the topic discussed in this thesis is
examined. Then, some individual social media platforms which are special for personnel
recruitment are analysed.
Within the framework of the empirical part of the master thesis, the relevance and possible
use of social media for headhunters from the fashion business is investigated by means of
an Internet-based survey. Here, only headhunters who recruit executives for the lifestyle
and fashion business in Germany were asked to take part digitally, partly after they had
been contacted personally. As to the results of the survey, the significance of social media
for the headhunter sector is then analysed in the analytical part of the thesis; and possible
strategies, fields of application and potentials for development for their use in recruitment
are derived.
1.4 Layout and structure of the thesis
The master thesis is divided into nine chapters in total. After the introduction there is the
theoretical part, which comprises Chapters 2 to 5. Here, the second chapter gives an
overview of the German fashion business, its characteristics and suitability for this analysis as
well as fundamental general requirements.
The third chapter displays the basis of personnel recruitment carried out by headhunters, their
tasks and the problems they are facing. The fourth chapter gives a definition of the term
"social media" and explicitly of social networks and their significance for the recruiting
process. The fifth chapter deals with analysing and filtering social media platforms which may
be relevant for the search for executives, possibilities of these platforms as well as the
services provided by them. The main focus of this master thesis in the empirical part is
Chapter 6; here, the results of the empirical survey of headhunters for the fashion business
are described and analysed. Within the framework of the two subsequent chapters the results
of the analysis from the empirical part are presented in relation to new findings and
assumptions stated in the theoretical part and then interpreted accordingly; the analysis
regarding suitability and potential of social media for headhunters in recruiting is assessed
and evaluated. The last chapter consists of a summary of the results studied as well as an
outlook on the opportunities for development of the headhunters' work with regard to social

2 Basic principles and preconditions
This chapter describes and analyses the necessary basic principles and preconditions that
are decisive for discussing the subject of this master thesis. In particular, the importance of
the fashion business is examined. On this basis, the theoretical basic considerations are
broadened in the second section of this chapter; and depending on the results described in
the first section, fundamental assumptions and preconditions for this master thesis are
developed and drawn up. The field of study of this thesis has been limited to the fashion
business, specifically the German fashion business. The decision is based on the
fundamental consideration that this business is better suited than others for analysing the
trend of social media regarding the headhunters' work. The assumption set forth is analysed
and backed up in the following two sections.
2.1 Importance of the German fashion business
A popular German saying states "There's life in the old dog yet" (Dieterich 2012). This is
particularly true for the German fashion business. Owing to the important structural changes
in the past decades and the relocation of production abroad a large number of German
fashion companies were no longer able to keep pace. However, despite dismal prospects,
thanks to its high flexibility and innovative strength, the German textile and fashion business
has regained its position of being an important economic factor and is now even a global
leader in some areas. The general association Textil & Mode (Jacoangeli 2012) assumes in
its economics statistics of 2012 that currently the strong and innovative brands and designs
of German fashion companies are in demand worldwide and will continue being so in the
future, and this very often without competition. According to Dieterich (2012) this is also an
explanation for the steadily increasing need for manpower that, owing to the diversity in the
fashion business, offers a large number of modern career opportunities, ranging from the
business economist to the artist. This wide range of professions includes among others
mechanical and systems engineers in textile technology and finishing, apparel sewers and
tailors, product designers, technicians in heavy-duty fabric goods manufacturing, textile
laboratory technicians, sales managers, IT specialists, logisticians as well as internationally
active purchasing and sales personnel. In a recent survey of TextilWirtschaft (2012)
conducted in Germany, 1,100 specialists and executives where asked about their reasons
for choosing a profession in the German fashion business.
78% of the participants mentioned exciting and diversified activities as a reason, 71% their
great interest in design and fashion trends, 59% indicated the joy of creative work and 53%
mentioned the international character of the work.

High fashion made by German fashion designers is well known on the catwalks of Paris,
New York and other fashion metropolises. Karl Lagerfeld, born in Hamburg and creative
mind of the French house of Haute Couture Chanel, and Wolfgang Joop, who is very
successful today with his label Wunderkind, have been among the global players for
decades. Bernhard Willhelm, Markus Lupfer, Stephan Schneider or Daniela and Annette
Felder belong to the younger generation that is successful between Paris, London, Antwerp
and New York. In Germany, it is Berlin that has become the trendy place of the fashion
scene (Horn 2010). The world of fashion meets twice a year at the Berlin Fashion Week and
at the streetwear trade fair Bread & Butter. There, nearly 700 fashion labels compete with
the metropolises of London and Paris. Since the German reunification in 1990, the game
with identities and traditions has led German fashion designers to an independent and self-
confident style (Tatsachen über Deutschland 2012). To many fashion-conscious people in
Germany, creativity and individuality are more important than status symbols. In particular
German fashion blogs such LesMads, Modepilot, Stilinberlin or Styleclicker reinforce the
importance of the German fashion business and increase their relevance and
expressiveness thanks to up-to-date trends and topics and a steadily rising popularity (Horn
The German Fashion Modeverband (Tatsachen über Deutschland 2012) sees Germany as
the second largest export country in fashion, and at the same time, Germany has become
an important market for international fashion brands (Horn 2010). However, many
companies are not perceived as being German because the names of their labels represent
a kind of international camouflage. German fashion companies were among the first to
focus on "green fashion" and emphasise sustainability and fair trade (Tatsachen über
Deutschland 2012). German product design has the image of creating well-defined and
functional products. Design made in Germany has a strong international reputation.
2.2 Theoretical basic considerations and assumptions
In accordance with these findings regarding to the German fashion business, this thesis is
based on the strong conviction that the fashion business and its employees are in general
much more open and have a higher affinity for trends, creativity and interconnection than
other more conservative business sectors.
This becomes particularly clear upon looking at the analysis of the results of a survey on the
reasons regarding the choice of profession within this sector (TextilWirtschaft 2012). Social
media, too, represent a current trend as they are exciting and diversified. They continually
demand creativity, for example regarding the type of language and the content; a content
that has to be steadily reinvented and kept as relevant as possible, to be posted by the
users in order to stay in touch with their contact persons, friends, fans or followers (Tamblé

2012). The suitability of the German fashion business for the subject matter of this master
thesis also arises from the understanding that this business sector is based on a fast,
dynamic and open communication culture; this is also proved by the author's own
professional experience (cf. also chapter 3.4 "Headhunters and the fashion business").
Fashion companies must present new trends that are as innovative and up-to-date as
possible, and they must do this constantly and at close intervals. German fashion
companies have to fight a battle for the best places in shops and wardrobes as well as in
direct competition on the catwalks worldwide. Another fundamental assumption here is that
social media are part of the standard repertoire of executives in the fashion business, still
more than in other more traditional sectors. This assumption can be made because both
subjects have some things in common: on the one hand, the necessary affinity for
technology (e.g. in manufacturing) due to the high speed and constant communication of
trends and innovation as well as the individual character important for the desired success;
and on the other hand, the required creativity and a compelling need for well-functioning
interconnection (e.g. in the area of fashion sales). The degree of interconnection as well as
a functioning marketing are not only key factors of success when using social media, but
they also play an important role for the success of brands and fashion labels for which
numerous advertising campaigns have been successfully run on the awareness that the
success of a label has much to do with brand trust and the matching emotionality. Based on
these findings and fundamentals, the assumption analysed in this section can be regarded
as proved, meaning that fashion business is better suited for examining the subject matter
of this thesis than other business sectors. Social networks play a prominent role for the
success of fashion companies (Mode PR in Social Media 2010).Headhunters who search
for executives for the fashion business can use social media in their recruitment process to
select and appraise candidates, as the information density of social networks in this area is
much higher than in other sectors. This thesis, and in particular its empirical part, shall find
out whether and to what extent these possibilities are already being used by recruiters
today, especially for the fashion business in Germany.

3 Tasks of personnel consultancies and headhunters
Jung (2008) defines the objective of personnel recruitment as the procurement of
employees needed in the required quantity and with the required qualifications at the
appropriate moment for the position in demand, with a performance-oriented income in line
with the market. In particular, finding suitable executives often represents a major cost
factor in the course of the search process; however, it is an essential factor of business
success after hiring qualified executives (Leciewski & Söhlemann 1999: p.26).
3.1 Headhunting as a service provided for the human resources area
Headhunting is a specific personnel service that companies can make use of within the
framework of personnel recruitment of specialists and executives as an alternative to
conducting the search themselves. On the one hand, outsourcing can minimise the costs for
this process, and on the other hand, the chance of recruiting a highly qualified candidate
can be maximised thanks to an active and professional search.
3.1.1 Terms used
Before proceeding to a more detailed examination of the service of headhunting it is
necessary to define and classify the terms of headhunting, personnel consultancy and
personnel service. According to Steppan (2011a: p.16) headhunters are personnel
consultants specialised in approaching executives personally.
Executive search also means the search specialised in directly approaching executives and
is used here as a synonym, as is usual in practice. Headhunting is a special type of
personnel consultancy. Frisee (1992) defines the term of personnel consultancy in the
narrow sense of the word as "the search for and selection of executives on behalf of a
company" (Frisee 1992: p.38). Besides the special type of direct approach personnel
consultants also use job advertisements for the recruitment. In this narrow definition
personnel consultancy is at first a part of employment exchange services. If the term
personnel consultancy is understood more broadly, it includes "any services provided with
the support of external consultants in the area of operational human resource management"
(Kraft 2002: p.20).
In doing this, personnel consultancy can be regarded as a part of management consulting.
Here, the terms "personnel consultancy" and "personnel services" start to merge into each
other. The term personnel services are defined as "the external and market-based provision
of personnel functions" (Vosberg 2003: p.22). The term personnel service providers is
primarily used for personnel service agencies or temporary employment companies that

supply temporary workers to companies for a certain time and in accordance with the
Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz [German Temporary Employment Act]. The complete
range of services rendered by personnel service providers also includes: personnel
procurement and staff-leasing, which is a mixture of temporary work and recruitment,
outsourcing of personnel as well as project management, interim management or
outplacement consulting.
This master thesis focuses on personnel service providers who search for and place
executives on behalf of companies. To clearly distinguish the service provided by personnel
procurement from employment exchange services a consistent differentiation has been
made regarding these two terms. Personnel procurement is financed by the employers and
should satisfy their demand for employees who in general are not available in sufficient
quantity as the qualifications or requirements needed are difficult to get. Employment
exchange services, however, are used by job seekers having problems in finding
appropriate work. Here, the service provided is paid for by the job seekers themselves in
case of private employment exchange services or financed by the German State in case of
public authorities who contribute to reducing the number of unemployed.
According to Hofmann & Steppan (2011) the requirements for headhunters, however, go far
beyond pure personnel service when it comes to filling executive positions. The preface of
the German book "Headhunter: Blick hinter die Kulissen einer verschwiegenen Branche"
states in a self-critical way that personnel consultants are, to a quite considerable extent,
responsible for the undesirable developments in our economy (Hofmann & Steppan 2011:
p.5). An example of this is the insolvency of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers: As per
the audit report, there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of its managers.
According to Hofmann & Steppan, it is the personnel consultants' duty to fill positions within
the management and supervisory bodies not only with people who are competent and high
in performance, but also with personalities who show integrity; persons who stand for the
positive values of the Western industrial societies as well as an adequate sense of duty
towards owners, employees, customers and society. No wonder that headhunters are also
called kingmakers (Hofmann & Steppan 2011: p.6). The work of personnel consultants or
headhunters thus represents a critical factor of success in the overall economic situation.
3.1.2 Development of a secretive business sector
First of all, this section provides a description of the historical development of the sector. In
the subsequent chapter the economic conditions for its emergence have been worked out.
At the beginning of the past century, all services now being offered by headhunting
companies were rendered directly between the employer and the employee or indirectly by
the personnel department within a company (Vosberg 2003: p.150). In doing so, leadership


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Publication date
2014 (October)

Title: The suitability of social media for headhunters to recruit managers from and for the fashion business
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89 pages