High-caliber headhunters are considered to be the gatekeepers for the most exclusive career opportunities. Most people believe that, as a rule, headhunters contact candidates. But would this arrangement work in reverse? The answer is simple – yes, if you know how to do it right. Executive search recruiters explain how candidates can successfully contact headhunters.
One thing is for sure: Executive positions are only available through the highest level of headhunters. But what about when you want to approach them about these positions? Contrary to most popular assumptions, many headhunters are usually open to being contacted. But in order to succeed, the right preparation is necessary.
1. Position yourself
To succeed with this approach, begin with a bit of self-marketing. Google yourself! What do you find? Be sure that your online persona conveys professionalism. This includes keeping your online business networking profiles up to date and documenting your success. 93 percent of recruiters check the social profiles of candidates before they reach hiring decisions (according to Experteer internal data). It’s also important to use only professional profile photos. Headhunters and recruiters will base their first impression of you on the first image they see. Try to choose a neutral background and a professional outfit. Of course, it’s also important to choose a photo with high-quality resolution.
2. Define your desired position
“It’s very rare that an unsolicited approach will fit perfectly with any specific mandate,” says Wolfgang Lichius, a partner with Kienbaum Executive Consultants. Therefore, a comprehensive look at yourself will serve as the basis for your success. Make a list of your strengths, skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Second, solidify what your next career step should be.
When you’ve determined your next move, it’s time to start reading. Specifically, reading through postings for career opportunities. Figure out which competencies are in demand. A typical application will precisely identify a candidate’s competencies. Therefore, it’s very helpful to consider hypothetical “dream jobs” and orient yourself toward these types of positions.
3. Identify the right headhunters
“Candidates that approach headhunters directly must be compatible with the same industry as the headhunter. Otherwise, they’re uninteresting for a headhunter,” explained executive recruiter Darren Payne. Before you fire out your resume with reckless abandon, try to find out which headhunters offer positions in your industry. Function and career level are also an important factor, too. Some recruiters offer a wide spectrum of positions, while others only operate on an executive level.
To find out if your application would be the right fit for a particular headhunter, it’s a good idea to follow their profiles on social networks to get a better impression of their expertise and personality.
4. Perfect your resume
“Headhunters spend less than 30 seconds looking at a resume,” says Rebecca Schween of Personalberatung Worldkonnekt, a German executive recruitment company. To maximize your chances, make sure that your resume is perfect. This includes precise descriptions of your history and a concrete presentation of your abilities, supported by measurable facts and a professional design. Headhunters and recruiters, like most professionals, are allergic to typos and grammatical errors.
Bear in mind: no headhunter wants to read your life story. Avoid the unnecessary details, and show this recruiter, in a matter of seconds, why you’re a top-notch candidate.
5. Choose the right approach
You’re almost ready – you know where you want your career to go, you’ve identified the right recruiter(s) to get you there, and your resume is perfect. Now it’s time to make sure you start your relationship with this recruiter on the right note – this is crucial. “Contact your headhunter via email,” recommends Christian Pape, of the Pape Consulting Group. “Cold-calling is tough because there’s usually very little time.”
In your first email, avoid cliches, or sending anything too formulaic. Otherwise, the recruiter may have the feeling that you’re sending the same mail to every recruiter around. If you’d really prefer to reach out with a phone call, make your first call direct, and avoid rambling, advises Dr. Thomas K. Heiden of heiden associates. “The impression you make during your first telephone call is comparable to the first impression made by your business card… It will also decide how this recruiter considers you with any future processes.”
Experteer offers access to an exclusive network of more than 10,000 high-quality headhunters from all over the world. Sign up today to view positions from headhunters available only through our service, and create a profile to be discovered by headhunters and recruiters for their next senior level positions.