Mercuri Urval headhunter insights

10 key Insights from Headhunters on Your Job Application

Today, we start with a series, of conversations with Headhunters and executive recruiters focused on hiring for management jobs. We wish to allow our candidates and executive job seekers an insights into how a headhunter looks at your application, to be able to stand out and reach your dream executive positions, without a worry!

Our first conversation is with Mr. Michael Güttes, Vice President and Business Unit Manager at Mercuri Urval in Dusseldorf. We decided to also share these answers with our International candidates, who may be interested in manager jobs (and above!) as expats in Germany. Read what he has to say on topics such as social networks or the age of its clients and we hope you can take advantage of his answers in getting closer to your dream positions!

Mercuri Urval headhunter insights

  • Which questions should a candidate always be ready for? 

Micheal Güttes: Basically, our questions are tailored to the vacant position and the previous career experiences and the personality of the candidate. We have no fixed list of questions, but we do clarify some  basic facts, such as the salary and the notice period routinely from our candidates at senior positions.

  • What was one of your most unusual candidate search mandates?

Micheal Güttes: To occupy senior positions in global corporations (Experteer: at this point we were dreaming of the coveted CEO occupation) or a very specific qualification search is always exceptional. A very interesting professional search at these levels are the positions on supervisory boards- now these are becoming exceptionally important for today’s companies.

  • Who is the top manager of today, why?

Michael Güttes: For me, the power of a top manager can only be assessed in the long term and can not be separated from the performance of an entire leadership team. I would emphasize on the power of Germany’s Volkswagen management team. Since decades, it has managed to establish the Group as a global premium brand.

  • From the candidates‘-perspective: what can they expect from a top recruiter or a Headhunter?

Michael Güttes: Besides the basics like a courteous treatment by the staff consultants, the procedures should be transparent and run smoothly. The executive recruiter or the Headhunter should provide a realistic picture of the company, so that the candidates looking for those top jobs can determine, if it is a fit for them.

  • What are the key characteristics for a senior-position today?

Michael Güttes: Flexibility, openness, social connectivity are more important than ever. Product life cycles are becoming shorter and companies need leaders who are open to new issues and requirements- bringing with them exceptional communication skills.

  • At 40, am I still interesting for a headhunter?

Michael Güttes: My impression is that the age of a candidate increasingly plays a lesser role. Today many senior managers spend less than 5 years in a position. The important thing is that a candidate has evolved to understand that learning is an ongoing cycle and that this development (at any age) does not stop.

  • Which social networks do you use for searching candidates or finding information about them? What is your approach?

Michael Güttes: We operate a multi-channel sourcing strategy, which means, we use all the available channels. This ranges from our own network, external discrete databases such as Experteer to social networks like Xing or LinkedIn. Candidates should therefore update their profiles there constantly, because HR consultants use this information.

  • Which questions should a candidate never ask?

Michael Güttes: In the first meeting with leaders from the new company, the candidate should avoid talking about salary or a company car. The rough fit of the salary is something the Headhunters should have already clarified earlier. Companies usually want candidates with a strong motivation to work for them (and not just be interested in benefits)

  • How do you identify high potential candidates for an interview? 

Michael Güttes: Thanks to the existing networks available on the Internet today, we can already check easily if the candidates have a certain management experience or technical know-how from their previous jobs. Talking directly to the candidates as well as assessments in the later stage, brings out the candidates personality to the forefront, allowing us to make a decision.

  • How should a potential candidate respond when they receive a call from a headhunter at their current workplace?

Michael Güttes: A good headhunter or recruitment consultant should usually clarify whether it is a good time to talk in the beginning itself. Although, the candidate should be in effect be open to have a conversation, that may represent the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’.

We would take this opportunity to thank Mr Güttes for these valuable insights and hope that our readers benefit from them! It is possible to reach this Headhunter directly via duesseldorf_de [at]

This is an ongoing series, where we will keep posting insights from top headhunters and recruiters.

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