I was recently asked by our General Manager to work on a head-hunting assignment for one of our valued clients. A very rough brief of the role was outlined to us together with a “wish list“ of what our client was seeking.
I was excited, how hard could this be? Surely people would be flattered to be contacted about a new career opening. I saw this as a great opportunity to target specific senior candidates who although may not be actively searching for their next role, would always consider a hearty opportunity when it’s put on their plate.
Over recent years, headhunting has become more widespread. Go back in time a few years and headhunting was reserved solely for C-Level openings. A prominent headhunting firm would be called upon to research the very best candidates in the market for a particular opening, and then to approach those executives directly to see if they’d be open to a career move.
New social technologies like LinkedIn have completely changed this. Now we are able to research the candidate market ourselves and reach out to potential candidates directly. Many are for roles that will never be openly advertised, so you’ll never know about these opportunities unless we find and contact you direct.
I will admit that my strike rate was lower than I anticipated with not many returning my call and others that were already happy and satisfied in their current roles, however if you are hoping to improve your visibility and interested in new opportunities when passive in the market, here are some simple steps you can take:-
Be specific and detailed on your profile.
A headhunting or recruiting assignment will start with us (the recruiter) identifying potential candidates in the market who hold the exact skills and experience profile that the business (client) has requested. This is the “wish list”. This could include qualifications, industries you’ve operated in, exposure to different technologies, clients you’ve worked with, the size of your network. It should be self-evident that to get a call you firstly have to match the “wish list” and you secondly have to make it easy for us to spot the fit between you and the role by making this information public.
To ensure your profile shows up in relevant searches you must present a detailed, accurate picture of who you are and what you do; including your core strengths, responsibilities and roles (since the same position can differ greatly by company). The more key words that appear in the “skills” section under your profile the higher you will rank in relevant searches.
Include company profiles for each employer.
We may look for candidates who work or have worked in certain companies or industries or that have a similar company structure and environment to our client’s business. If the position involves working with various company branches or subsidiaries, then we might target searching for individuals with experience working at a national, multi-state, or a parent company.
Include a brief description of each employer in your work history that provides an at-a-glance overview of the company. What does the company do? Who does their customer base comprise of? Is the business local, national or international? Does it have a special designation, such as ASX listed?
Always take our call.
Even if you aren’t interested in a career move right now, being open to discussing the opportunity we have available will allow you to provide us with a better understanding of your expertise as well as ambitions. It will also increase the likelihood that we will call you about new openings in the future. This initial 15-20 minute phone conversation could result in great career opportunities and a fast-tracked career progression down the line.
Don’t let us miss you.
We are skilled at listening for nuances that reveal what the client truly wants beyond the initial list of skills. We evaluate your strength in the areas that are most critical to the client and role, together with your soft skills as well. If we have successfully worked with the client in the past, then our opinion carries more clout. The client is more likely to overlook a candidate’s shortcoming if we endorse them for an interview. Our goal is to find the best talent and person for the job so that our client only needs to interview a handful of contenders.
If your public persona doesn’t offer us a complete view of your key skills and specific experience, you may never get a call. Which brings us full circle – back to the importance of your LinkedIn / social media presence.
I can report that I did find the right person (who was not actively looking for a career move) for our client. They promoted themselves well on social media which made my job easier, returned my call and was open to hearing and discussing new career prospects. This has left both client and candidate very happy in their professional relationship together.
Claire Frith – Senior Consultant