22 Sep, 2011

What To Do When Headhunters Call

For many individuals there is no more terrifying a moment in their career than an unsolicited call from a headhunter. On one hand this communication can be seen by the individual as vindication and recognition of their hard work in their industry. On the other the call can represent one of the most alien experiences which can inspire terror and nervousness. As such it is essential to make a few considerations on how to react if a headhunter does indeed call.

Why have they called?

Individuals who have little to no indexicology of dealing with headhunters may jump to the conclusion that the call constitutes nothing short of a solid job offer. This is incorrect. As headhunters are employed by companies to find candidates to fill a specific role, it is not unusual for headhunters to be keeping tabs on a small number of people at the same time. This means, in practice, that a headhunter may “feel out” a fair few individuals to see if they would be hypothetically or potentially interested in a new role at a different company. Having ascertained which individual’s would be open to such an opportunity a headhunter will then whittle down his shortlist from the remaining candidates before any formal offers are made. It is rare that formal offers at this stage will be anything strong than an invite to submit a CV or perhaps attend an interview.

Making Good Impressions

As the headhunters will be communicating with a plethora of individuals simultaneously a candidate should do the best he can to distance themselves from any potential rivals and to stick in the headhunters mind. Simply put, the best way of doing this is by dealing with a headhunter in the utmost professional manner possible – every interaction with them should, in essence, be treated like a job interview. As there will be a number of similar candidates, many of whom sharing similar employment histories and qualifications, small things such as a courteous and respectful manner can help separate an individual from the pack of rival competitors. Similarly an individual who lacks professionalism could find themselves removed from shortlists as nominating such a candidate may reflect badly on a headhunter who puts them forward.

The Initial Call

Much of a headhunter’s judgement on a potential candidate will be made during their first interaction, usually by phone, and, as such, it is important to get this right. Common mistakes often come from individuals who are not expecting such calls and therefore panic. One regular cause for concern for those being headhunted is how their details were obtained by the headhunter. Usually the answer to this is innocuous and quite innocent; it is not rare for a mutual acquaintance or colleague to have passed on the details or for the headhunter to have found the number on an internet directory. If an individual is to put these concerns to one side, rather than adopt an accusatory tone, they will be much less nervous and will fare better in their interactions. Another area of worry is for a potential candidates not comfortable with discussing opportunities elsewhere whilst still at the location of their current employment. This issue can be avoided by swapping details and arranging to speak on a different occasion. This also allows the candidate to prepare for the phone call whilst also researching the headhunter and the client they are representing.

What if the position offered is unappealing?

Many times a headhunter will begin to enquire if an individual is interested in a specific position and the answer, on occasion, will be a flat “no”. If this is the case then the best solution is to not just dismiss the headhunter out of hand but rather to be as helpful as possible. Even if an individual is currently very happy in their current position it would be foolish to deny a possible future contact as it is more than possible that circumstances may change. One way to be courteous and helpful to a headhunter would be to perhaps suggest another colleague for the position they are looking to fill. This course of action would prove favourable to all three individuals.

Executive search services and international headhunters.

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