A question we’re often asked is ‘How do I get headhunted?’ or ‘what does being headhunted mean?’ This is a question frequently levelled at us because we don’t work in the same way as recruitment agencies, or indeed in the same way that many headhunters do. Whilst we do, of course, use candidate databases to a degree, they are secondary to our primary endeavours. We do what our name says – we hunt. So how to get headhunted means how can you be found? How can you flag up on the radar and improve how to get noticed by headhunters?
The most successful headhunters are exceptionally skilled networkers. They have their ear to the ground across a range of industries and they know ‘how to know’. This is only then followed by identifying the ‘who’. So, whilst the headhunter is networking it’s your job to be visible.
Networking can seem superfluous to your everyday life and another demand on your time, but it’s all good foundations for your career. You should be part of relevant forums and discussion groups, leading seminars, and attending conferences. If your name and presence is out there, you’ll get noticed when the headhunter is looking.
A word of caution here though. Networking isn’t just about getting your name out. It’s about making professional allies. If you can easily and quickly connect with the right individual this could benefit you in the future. So spread the word on others too.
Working for an organisation you can, rightly, expect the vast majority of your success and value-added to be kept within that organisation. This doesn’t help a great deal with how to get headhunted. You need to take responsibility for creating a rounded career that is evidenced.
Headhunters, at the executive levels they are working on, are not going to take chances. They do see potential, but what they really want to see is hard evidence that you are the right individual for the role. To do this you need to demonstrate skills and aptitude. Again, leading seminars, speaking at conferences, running training courses, volunteering your skills, and releasing articles are all good ways of doing this.
In our post, ‘Steps to be being Headhunted on LinkedIn’ we explore the specifics of using your LinkedIn profile to get headhunted. This is an important avenue to cultivate, but don’t forget the impression you’re putting out across your social media. Use Facebook to join professional and industry-relevant groups, and comment via Twitter on relevant discussions. You need to be searchable, but for the right reasons.
Top tip: Google your name and see what you come up with. Get friends and family to do this on the social media too and see what the result is. Is this the persona you want out there?
This one is tough, as if you’re unemployed of course you want to be noticed. However, in years of headhunting experience the individuals who are right for a position are most likely ones who are already proving themselves elsewhere. Like it or not, you’re more attractive to a headhunter if you are actively engaged in a relevant role. This may seem chicken-and-egg to you but it’s all about the evidenced approach.
Therefore, stay in work if you can. Don’t hand in the towel immediately, even if you know you are looking to move.
You might inwardly groan when a phone call from a headhunter suggests a coffee. Once again, your time is precious. You want to know more right then and there before committing a second of your time. However, headhunting isn’t a simple case of matching a CV to a job description. It takes detective work on behalf of the headhunter who has researched the role and the company and is vested in an ideal match. Therefore, they need a little of your time to get to know you – off paper, offline.
Even if it turns out you’re not right for the current role they are working on, they will have a name and a face for the next one.
It’s an ego-boost to be headhunted, there’s no doubting that. However, that doesn’t mean that you should jump at any role you are headhunted for. Instead, you need to remain in control and ask the questions to ascertain if you truly are the right match for the role. This isn’t a wasted exercise if the answer turns out to be ‘no’. It’s all about networking and building blocks for the future.
At the end of the day, the headhunter’s client is the one in control. Positions filled through headhunting are a unique dynamic. The headhunter is focused on getting the right fit for their client who is paying the bill. It’s your job to understand this and advocate for yourself within this process.
So act in good faith, be honest about your expectations, and be realistic in your approach. Don’t suddenly decide to play a game of cat and mouse because of that ego-boost you’ve just got – it will backfire.
Headhunting is a distinctly different process from that used by a recruitment agency. It’s back to the database concept. Recruitment agencies rely on well-stocked databases, so you do well to fire off your CV to as many as possible. Headhunters work on the basis of individual’s within the sphere of influence in which they are looking. These aren’t active candidates but instead visible, but not sending out their CV in abandon.
You won’t get very far if you simply send out your CV to every headhunter you can think of. For a start that CV will be too generic and not focus on exactly what is needed for an individual position.
Being headhunted isn’t the right approach for every recruitment task out there, far from it. It’s suitable for executive level positions where it’s more than just matching skills and experience to a job description. How to get noticed by headhunters therefore is, in some ways, pot luck as to what they are looking for at the time. This means you can’t write it off as futile as tomorrow may be a different story. How to get headhunted is a long-term game.
If you think you are worth headhunting then register as a candidate with us or give us a call on 0203 582 2663 – just make sure that your overall approach also fits the above. We’ll discuss more about how, as a job seeker, you can work with headhunters in our next post.