A headhunter is a specialized recruiter who identifies and approaches suitable candidates in order to fill high-level business positions. It’s a headhunter’s job to find premium candidates for executive roles that are often not advertised or promoted through standard recruitment channels. Headhunters frequently approach people that are already employed, persuading these strong industry players to switch companies. They may work for a recruitment agency or be a freelancer hired as a third party resource.
What does a headhunter do?
A headhunter focuses on filling high end company roles (Chief executive officer, Executive director, Chief operating officer, Chief financial officer, Chief information officer, Chief marketing officer, President, Vice President). Headhunters undertake executive searches; determining which candidates have the experience and skills required to excel in the position and might be a fit for the culture of their client company. They then approach these individuals, opening negotiations. A headhunter must have excellent people skills, high levels of persuasion, expert networking capabilities and a deep understanding of the current job market.
Tips for garnering the attention of a headhunter:
If you’re ready for a change and are interested in capturing the attention of a headhunter, there are some specific actions you can take to be noticed by these specialized recruiters.
- Be visible: Tap into social media. Make profiles that reflect the job titles and industries that you’re interested in as well as your preferred company size. Go to forums, take lunchtime seminars, attend conferences in your industry and talk to recruitment consultants. Ensure that your name, title and organization are on the attendance lists of these events.
- Leverage LinkedIn: Create a profile. Optimize your profile with keywords found in job descriptions in your desired field. Use the summary section to showcase your achievements and professional goals. Talk about your experience, motivations, interests and skills. Upload a professional photo that best represents you. Make sure it’s well cropped and high resolution. Add your location and include your educational background. Specify your industry. List your current position, including your current title, company and start date. List your skills and showcase your talents.
- Give out your card: When attending functions, freely and frequently swap cards. You never know who may access your information.
- Constantly develop: Most headhunters target well rounded executives, people who contribute to their industry. Endeavour to publish, speak at conferences, volunteer and/or blog.
- Manage your professional persona on social networking sites. Keep your profiles open, clean and interesting. Regularly do a vanity search to keep an eye on what is “out there” attached to your name.
- Continue working: A working executive is the most attractive target for a headhunter.
- Practice patience: Be persistent and take initiative. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated, share posts and build long term relationships with network members. Attracting headhunters is a process that takes time.
- Seek out headhunters who may be able to help you. Check LinkedIn for companies with internal headhunters, talent acquisition consultants and/or hiring specialists. Consider external headhunting agencies and firms that work with a variety of companies. Introduce yourself, share your experiences and make your intentions known. Consider offering a get-to-know-you phone call or a coffee meet up. The more personal you make it, the more likely they’ll remember you when the right job comes along.
With effort and persistence, you can capture the attention of a headhunter. If/when a head-hunter asks for a meeting, say yes. Even if you’re not sure if you’re interested in the position, spend time with this specialized recruiter. Gather information. Ask questions. Do your own due diligence on the role and the company, separate from what the headhunter provides. An exciting new position may be on your horizon!