Headhunters are always looking to grow their supply of candidates, and regularly update their database of quality professionals. Getting onto that database is a key step towards obtaining an interview, and should be one of your priorities. To do that, you need to make yourself more marketable, and easier for a headhunter to work with.
Because most placements are done on an assignment basis, some candidates will get nowhere if they are not seen as ideally suited for particular positions currently available.
But a dynamic initial approach to the headhunter can make you stand out, and get you straight on to their list of “top-drawer” candidates – those who have priority when new career openings arise.
To make the right impact, you firstly need to identify your strengths and assets – the things that will make you attractive to potential employers – and then be able to communicate these employer benefits clearly and directly to the headhunter.
Start with your C.V, it needs to be a live, forward-looking document that is easy to understand. It must tell the reader who you are, and what you are capable of, in a clear and simple way. It should make them want to meet you.
A well-written C.V. should flow smoothly from one page to the next, providing the evidence that you can do the job.
To make sure you get it right, identify what you want to do and the reasons why you know you can do it. Do this to understand yourself much better, and in the process improve the way that you communicate who you are, what you’ve already achieved, and what you can do for an employer.
An introductory telephone call is a good way to make an initial impression, but if you don’t prepare thoroughly, the call could be a big turn-off for the person at the other end.
So be sure of what you want to say. Run through the highlights of your career, and list your main achievements to date. You’re trying to get someone’s attention, arouse interest and encourage them to want to ask for more.
A useful device is to prepare an overview of your capabilities under short functional headings. Give yourself a much clearer understanding of yourself, and a better chance to communicate who you are, and what you have to offer.
Selecting suitable headhunters is equally important. Some are generalists who work across a variety of sectors, while others are specialists operating within given sectors.
Reputation is important, so choose those who have a good image. You can turn to the various publications that list the top headhunting firms, their geographic regions and their areas of specialisation. Personal recommendation is also a good way to select the right company, and is advisable within this region.
Headhunters need to be satisfied about many things: Will your management style fit with the culture of their client? Are you an effective communicator? Do your technical skills meet with the standards required by the client? Will there be the right chemistry between you?
Company recruitment policies differ between organisations, industry sectors and geographic regions. Local companies tend to take on people from similar backgrounds, so this can restrict opportunities. If you can find a good head-hunter and develop a relationship with them, this can work to your advantage.
Some have ‘preferred supplier’ status for major accounts and the client respects their judgement. Occasionally, they are able to transfer individuals with the right skills-sets from one industry type to another. If you’re looking to move outside of the region, it would be a wise idea to contact headhunters operating within your chosen destination, as they will know where the opportunities lie and be aware of local market dynamics.
Developing a rapport is important, so you should prepare an approach plan for everyone you intend to contact. Who do you intend to contact? What is the purpose of the call? How will you explore the possibilities and maintain control over the “meeting”?
Prepare thoroughly. When you make a connection with a person, develop a relationship with them. Even if you are not suitable for a current opening, you may become a prime candidate for a future opportunity.
It’s crucial to know your own market value. What you are worth is dependent upon a number of key factors such as geographic location, the type of company the potential employer is (ie multi-national or local business) and the level of the position.
To get the best deal for yourself, remember that the most successful people earn what they negotiate. If you do a good job selling yourself, you increase your value to an employer. If you know what you are worth, and can defend it during negotiations, you will maximise your package.
Manage your feelings and avoid coming across as someone anxious to find a new position. The person interviewing will easily spot the difference between enthusiasm and desperation.
Maintain your composure throughout, particularly when negotiating salary and package. Remember too that the hiring process is illogical and does not always flow smoothly. There will be unexpected delays, so learn to be patient.
With the right preparation, careful choice of head hunter and a systematic approach, you will greatly improve your chances of success. Remember that people do not do business with companies, they do business with other people, so make it an enjoyable experience. Happy hunting!