At some time or another most of us have dreamt
of the phone call which will transport us from our daily office
drudge to a world peppered with career challenges and commensurately
substantial financial rewards. Yet, how do you transform yourself
into a prospective employee so appealing that employers will be
falling over themselves in their haste to secure your signature?
The answer is to catch the eye of that most significant
and mysterious of individuals: the Executive Search consultant,
more commonly known as the Headhunter.
Nowadays headhunting is no longer restricted
to those earning massive salaries. The increasing need for specialist
skills at middle and junior management levels, particularly within
the broader financial services industry, dictates that competent
individuals must be proactively unearthed, rather than relying
on a response to the passive advert placed by a personnel agency
in a financial weekly or on a job portal.
So, just how should you react the first time
a headhunter approaches you?
If you've never had a spontaneous telephone call
from a headhunter before, it can all seem somewhat flattering.
Usually the headhunter will be rather discreet about leaving their
name should their call switch to voicemail. One never knows who
might be listening in on your calls or monitoring your email.
Discretion works in both directions, so ensure you don't abuse
your employer’s email or telephones if you want your job-hunting
activity to remain private.
Even if you're perfectly content with your current
role, few individuals can resist their natural curiosity to return
the head-hunter’s call. And if you can’t figure just
how they got your number, it is doubtful whether they will reveal
that to you. It’s considered inappropriate to divulge sources.
However, somebody who knows you, or knows of you by reputation,
may have recommended you. It might even be the head-hunter’s
client sounding out your possible candidacy.
Headhunters often have researchers who assist
them. Astute researchers will discover your contact details from
your employer's switchboard operators, interrogate their own databases,
comb through conference schedules for delegates and keynote speakers,
scour press cuttings, search the Internet, or even just Google® your
Most importantly, try and be as helpful to the
researcher as your time and work pressures permit. Being friendly,
professional and cooperative costs little, and will ensure that
one day YOU will be the first to be approached for that job-in-a-lifetime.
Remember, if you want to be headhunted,
make sure people can find you!
The following ten-point guide might increase
your chances of getting headhunted.
1. Strive to be
the best in your field. This is the classic no-brainer.
If you reach the top of your career field you will be flagged
on all headhunters’ radars.
2. Increase visibility.
Get yourself published, talk to the media, present
material at conferences, sweat your network, and just get out
and about. Most headhunters keep databases of who is quoted in
the press; who is publishing professional articles; and who is
presenting papers at conferences. They will also source recommendations
from prominent industry personalities. To optimise your chances
you simply have to be visible.
3. Chart your career.
Well-respected universities and Graduate Business
Schools do make a difference, especially for the younger candidate
in the early stages of his / her career. Strive to join an employer
noted for its training experience and endeavour to develop broad
functional and sector expertise.
your Emotional Intelligence? Many search firms
believe that high emotional intelligence is the biggest differentiator
of attractiveness in a candidate. It doesn’t matter how
clever you are, if you’re missing a personality then you’ll
remain on the shelf.
5. Become Internet
savvy. Where appropriate, ensure that your profile
and / or CV is available on your company’s website. Headhunters
constantly scan through biographies found on the websites of organisations
when searching for a prospective candidate. As an alternative
develop your own website or blog.
6. Headhunt the
Headhunter. Conduct research to determine which
headhunters operate in your field and send them your CV. It really
is a candidates’ market right now and no, it doesn’t
look desperate. They will welcome your initiative.
7. Find yourself
a Mentor. Being referred by a leading industry
figure or specialist often means your CV will go straight to the
top of the in-tray for consideration.
8. Prepare a Professional
CV. This should comprise of a one-page executive
summary and a two to three-page more detailed description of your
career to date. Most headhunters will assist you with this upon
request. And it’s free!
9. Remember the
basics. Keep yourself informed by reading quality
newspapers, magazines and industry publications. Keep some business
cards in your wallet, handbag, sports bag, and car. You never
know just when you might meet someone in the executive search
business, and would like to provide your contact details in a
professional manner. The card should ideally have your daytime
contact number, an email address and a postal address, irrespective
of whether or not you are currently employed. And preferably no
home addresses or home numbers to preserve your domestic privacy.
10. Keep in touch.
Make sure that the key players in your field have an up-to-date
CV and contact details. Otherwise you may not get that call!