Priorly we shared details with you on how to establish a long term relationship with a headhunter or an executive recruiter and what could be done potentially to improve your chances of getting the next management position.
Today, we present an interesting interview with Hildegard Freund, CEO of Hildegard HR Consulting in Germany. From talking through the best ways to contact a headhunter to the worst way for a candidate to behave on the first phone call, get all the exclusive insights directly from the headhunter, and be sure that you’re following all the best practices!
What questions should a candidate ask a headhunter?
Hildegard Freund: If I put myself in the shoes of the candidate, the following points are very important: Why the position currently vacant? How does the recruitment consultant or headhunter describe the corporate culture? What is expected of me in the first 6-12 months?
I also think it’s not bad if the candidate asks for a first feedback or impression of the headhunter after the end of the first call. It is crucial here of course that both sides respond as honestly as possible and act with authenticity.
What’s the worst way for a candidate to behave on a phone call?
Hildegard Freund: Personally for me, there are two kinds of behaviors that I do not like: First, if the candidate acts as “too cool” by showcasing a behavior and language, indicating that he/she actually did not *have* to talk to me, because anyway all the recruiters are fighting over her/him.
It’s quite wonderful then, we can all save time and effort! The second aspect is when a candidate puts everything into limelight and exaggerates and oversells his/her skill-sets. Even something that has not been effective and usually it is pretty easy to see through all that.
How can candidates remain in touch with headhunters?
Hildegard Freund: This is actually pretty easy, especially since in general, both sides have an interest. A first contact is created indeed mostly due to a specific position but perhaps it does not match well enough. The candidate can feel free to contact proactively with a headhunter, for example, send his/her updated resume or to inform the headhunter of other important changes.
In the same manner, as a headhunter I can reach out to the candidate, should I have a job offer that is interesting- for example in its industry/ branch. Personally, I am also connected with certain candidates via various networks, so that we can stay in touch. This then often creates a sub-conscious thought dynamic that is good for both sides: “For me, this task is not suitable, but I know a guy …”
What sort of candidates do headhunters maintain long term relationships with?
Hildegard Freund: In my experience these are usually candidates I’ve already met once and talked to personally and those that have left a “lasting” impression on me. Dynamic, flexible people who are open to change – but at the same time focused and not available for all positions irrespective of the price you quote.
These candidates act in a carefully planned manner, they discuss constructively and realistically. Even those candidates that may have gaps in the resume making them feel it is not really selling like hot cakes (sometimes with wrong decisions), it is important to note that with a plausible explanation (so long as these points are covered), this is not really a show-stopper.
In such cases, I believe it is the job of the headhunter, his client (i.e. the companies seeking management candidates) to convince and “be-advised” and make a useful first introductory conversation with the candidates.
What is an accepted way to proactively approach a headhunter by a candidate?
Hildegard Freund: I can only speak from my personal experience. I am always positive about a descriptive and professional speculative application. Whether the candidate has applied to one of my open positions or independent of it, is secondary.
For good candidates, as a headhunter, I’m always open. It is important that when choosing the “right” headhunter or executive recruiter, a candidate can for example also use online platforms for instance, Experteer and get in touch with premium headhunters with help with its extensive network.
How can a candidate identify the best headhunters- should they go by industry expertise or the size of the headhunting business?
Hildegard Freund: Of course, a large and internationally networked headhunter or executive recruiter is often able to cover complex searches in a much easier fashion. But ultimately, in my eyes to the respective headhunter’s personality – creating a certain trust relationship between headhunters and candidates is key and this is only possible if the chemistry is right to some extent.
The specialization in a specific industry in my opinion is also important, because you can develop a deeper understanding and above all a functioning network for the particular sector. However, this is true for both small, segment focused headhunter firms, as well as large search firms, which have a string of consultants focused on each industry sector or branch.
We would like to thank Hildegard Freund for sharing her useful insights and hope that candidates in management jobs can find these tips useful!
About Hildegard Freund:
Hildegard Freund has worked in the HR environment for over 20 years as an HR consultant. With her company Hildegard Freund HR Consulting, she implements the high demands of the executive search business through focusing on core values of: Loyalty, reliability and mutual trust set as a solid foundation for a healthy cooperation with both candidates and companies not just technically, but also mentally and creating a culture fit together as a win-win situation keeping a long-term perspective as core.
The Munich-based HR consulting firm is always looking for new candidates from the automotive industry, Mechanical Engineering, IT, logistics and energy. They seek specialists as well as managers – nationally and internationally. The firm is also involved in candidate coaching through online and in-person recruiting events sharing tips on how candidates can present themselves optimally and what new career moves may prove to be useful and effective for their professional future.