8 Tips For Working With a Headhunter

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Oct 10, 2014
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

Eight ways to strike gold through a recruiter:

1. Do a little research – most highly successful, 3rd party recruiters specialize in an industry niche or a particular set of roles that they fill. Some, go further, and only work in a specific geography. Before making any contact determine if you are a good fit or not.

2. Present a resume along with yourself – Like you, we’re all busy.  If you’re a serious candidate hoping to find attractive interviews, let the executive recruiter know by expressing an interest in seeking a new/alternative employment opportunity and attach your updated resume.

3. If you’re not sure your resume is as presentable as you would like, ask for assistance. Search firms are good resources for resume writers. It’s okay to not have a perfect resume. Do your best, let the headhunter know that it’s a work in progress, and get your search started. Too many candidates wait and wander. Recruiters need specifically credentialed candidates every day. We can look at your LinkedIn profile and assess whether or not you are a fit for our searches through a review of your resume and a phone call; regardless of how your resume looks at the moment. (For IT sales candidates, see my article on IT sales resumes.)

4. Follow up your email with an effective phone call – Hirers want candidates who are focused and assertive. So do recruiters! Follow up with a concise voicemail or conversation. If you’re leaving a voicemail, remember that your message is the first “interactive” impression you are making upon someone. And repeat your phone number slowly and clearly at the end of your brief message.

5. If you have been referred to the recruiter by someone, mention his/her name right up front – Everyone loves context. Naming your referral provides you with immediate credibility and substance. And, if the recruiter has worked with that individual, you become identifiable over and above all the other candidates the recruiter may be screening.

6. Know what you’re looking for – Prepare yourself by spending time reflecting on your goals and matching those goals to specific job responsibilities and/or employment environments. Scrutinize prospective employers’ sites and have a list of firms you are hoping to get interviews with. Construct a written list of the aspects of a new opportunity that are the most appealing and important to you so that you can provide a recruiter with ideas to back up your goals.

7. Focus on the future – When you do meet with or talk to an executive recruiter, focus on being a forward-thinker. Search professionals will ask you about your current and previous roles in order to get relevant information to help place you best. We do not have time or energy for detailed analyses of your employers’ marketing woes or related “sob stories.” And, frankly, expressing sour grapes about any employer is a turn-off in any interview. More importantly, be prepared to talk about the personal achievements you are most proud of which make you hireable immediately.

8. Keep your expectations in check – Most recruiters will reply to your email in one of three ways. Hopefully they will inform you of receipt of your resume even if you are not a fit for their “system” or their practice. They may suggest an alternative strategy.

Secondly, if they are not currently working any searches for which you are a fit, but believe they can be of assistance in the future, they will notify you that they will keep your resume active and hope to have a conversation with you when time allows. If this happens, request a 15-30 minute phone appointment two to three weeks after you see that type of reply.

Third, if a headhunter needs you, he/she will request a phone (or in my case) a face-to-face screening interview. Be ready. And try to be flexible. If you are a fit for one of their searches you need to be available to spend time interviewing.

Finding a new, better career is a job. But, keep in mind that executive recruiters work on behalf of, and get paid by, their client employers. So, regardless of how valuable you may be to them, the best recruiters screen out 90% of all the resumes they get.

That’s why we’re called headhunters by some. At our best, we go into competitive companies and actively recruit candidates our clients pay us to identify. Then the dance begins.

So, if you want to compete with all of the talent in today’s competitive market follow the above steps and get ready to be challenged in a new role with a brilliant company.

This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.
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