Here at Experteer, we bring together headhunters in an online environment to track down senior-level candidates and contact them in a discrete fashion. But from a candidate’s perspective, there is always one question at the forefront: In a competitive marketplace, how can I make myself stand out? Here are seven practical tips for getting on a headhunter’s radar.
How many times have you been approached about a career move in the last year? More specifically, how many times has a recruiter contacted you about a role they are looking to fill?
This has traditionally been called headhunting – and it’s an element of recruiting that’s grown exponentially in the last few years. Put simply, if you’re not getting unsolicited approaches about career openings, a whole segment of the job market is closed off to you. Below are some tips to help you address this, but first let’s quickly understand what’s changed…
How headhunting has become more widespread
Only 10 years ago, headhunting was reserved solely for C-level openings. A prestigious headhunting firm would be chosen to research and contact the very best candidates in the market for a particular opening. Names like Heidrick & Struggles and Korn Ferry were synonymous with headhunting.
New social technologies such as LinkedIn and people aggregators (for instance, Experteer) have completely changed this. Now recruiters within big corporations can research the candidate market themselves – and reach out to potential candidates directly. Many openings are for roles that will never be openly advertised, so you’ll never know about these opportunities unless the recruiter contacts you directly.
This broader definition of headhunting has expanded massively over the last few years and that’s why it’s key for executives to take some simple steps that’ll help improve their visibility.
7 tips for getting on a headhunter’s radar
Be specific and detailed on your candidate profile.
A headhunting assignment will start with the recruiter identifying potential candidates holding the exact skills and experience that the business has requested. You can think of this as the recruiter’s “wish list”. This could include your qualifications, industries you’ve operated in, exposure to different technologies, clients you’ve worked with, the size of your network, etc. To get that initial call, you have to match the recruiter’s “wish list” and make it easy for the recruiter to spot you as a good fit for the role by making this information public.
Here, it’s vital that your candidate profile shows up in relevant searches – and to do this it must present a detailed, accurate picture of who you are and what you do. A headhunter who is reading through your profile should be able to identify: your core strengths, responsibilities and role as well as industry sub-groups or specializations that you have experience in. A good practice is to list this information in a “specialties” section at the bottom of your summary while also including them in the “skills” section as well. The more these keywords appear in your profile, the higher you will rank in relevant searches. Pay special attention to your profile headline because it can be the most valuable part of your profile in this respect.
Include company profiles for each employer.
Headhunters may look for candidates who work or have worked in certain companies or in companies that have a similar company structure and environment to their client’s business. If the position involves working with various company branches or subsidiaries, then the headhunter might target their search for individuals with experience working at a national, multi-state, or parent company.
Include a brief, 2-3 sentence 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 or does it operate in other locations? Does it have a special designation, such as a Fortune 500?
Don’t take your experience for granted. This information could get you a call quicker than your competition and you want to make it as readily available to recruiters as possible.
Join the conversation.
Think about the last time you heard a stranger say something interesting. Did you want to know more about them or listen to what else they had to say? The same curiosity motivates headhunters to investigate professionals as prospective candidates. Consider speaking at industry events. Be quoted in news publications. Make a point to contribute to online group discussions. Publish your own LinkedIn blog (Twitter tip: If you send a tweet to @LinkedInPulse with the title and link to your post, your chances of going viral will increase. LinkedIn monitors that account closely to look for interesting articles to share with its user base.). Follow industry hashtags and participate in chats on Twitter.
Taking these steps to establish yourself as an expert in your field will show headhunters that you not only have the experience, but you have the expertise as well. Personal branding is no longer a buzzword; rather, it is a modern-day principle of career strategy.
Always take a headhunter’s call.
Even if you aren’t interested in a career move right now, being open to discussing the opportunity will allow you to provide them with a better understanding of your expertise as well as ambitions. It will also increase the likelihood that they will call you about new openings in the future. That initial 15-20 minute phone conversation could result in great career opportunities and fast-tracked career progression down the line.
Pay it forward.
Become an advocate for your “rock star” junior associates. You know who these individuals are in your organization. You thought to yourself, “That person is going to really soar in their career.”
Remarkable employees will find a way to excel wherever they are. Assisting in their growth is a great way to position yourself as a mentor which can pay off for you in the future. You never know when they will be in a position to return the favor. Many headhunters formerly worked in the fields that they now recruit in. The first-hand knowledge they possess is invaluable – and the more you have chosen to “pay it forward” in your career, the more likely you are to be known to them or be referred to them.
Always be networking.
Headhunters are experts at asking for referrals. In fact, clients often hire them specifically for their existing professional network and networking abilities. If a hospital is looking for a Director of Nursing, they are going to be more interested in the recruiter with strong healthcare connections.
Headhunters will frequently ask people in their network who they know with the professional profile they are looking for. Stay in contact with school alumni, former colleagues, and clients, and increase the chance of your name being mentioned.
Don’t let a new headhunter miss you.
A seasoned headhunter is skilled at listening for nuances that reveal what the client truly wants beyond a list of skills. If they have successfully worked with the client in the past, then their opinion carries more clout. The client is more likely to overlook a candidate shortcoming if the headhunter endorses them for an interview. Their goal is to find the best talent for the job so that their client only needs to interview a handful of contenders.
However, not all executive recruiters are this experienced. Some are relatively new to recruiting. So they may only pursue candidates whose professional presence reflects the client’s “wish list”. If your persona doesn’t offer them an overview of your key skills and experience, you may never get a call. Which brings us full circle – back to the importance of your LinkedIn and social media presence.
Many executives assume headhunting is only relevant to those trying to secure the very top positions in global businesses. If you’re not taking steps to be noticed by the modern day headhunter, you’re missing out on opportunities. Follow the tips above and take a great step towards increasing your visibility within this valuable network. Wishing you career success!