Getting Noticed by and Networking with HeadHunters

Would you sell your car and walk home if someone offered you enough money for it?
If you wouldn’t, you are unlikely to be commercial in your life, or your career.

Same is said for building a relationship with Corporate HeadHunters.  Whether you are actively seeking to add to your own team, actively searching for a new job or just sensibly managing your own career progression and development; building relationships with proven executive search consultants, ‘HeadHunters’, is an essential element to a successful career strategy.  Over 50% of the C-Level placements I have made in the last 5 years have been individuals I had known for over a year prior to the appointment.
Networking with HeadHunters
It is therefore vital that modern executives establish a means of targeting appropriate search consultants but being specifically mindful of the risks of HeadHunters who work solely within specific functions, industries or regions – those with a broader network will proffer a far greater spread of opportunities or individuals.

CC’ing 400 consultants…
Sending a mass email to all the consultants you can find is strongly discouraged, (and runs the risk of receiving a direct, straight-talking but ultimately less than helpful response….!). It will very quickly place you on any consultant’s list of executives who do not fully understand the formal search process and will most certainly provide the impression that you are not serious about your search. With a search consultant typically working 7 days per week , and often be clocking up 80-100 hours work each week, executives who do not take their own search seriously will almost certainly be passed over.

When reaching out to select executive search consultants, it is vital to be aware that first impressions count, and last! Personal referrals to a search consultant through colleagues/business associate/alumni who have existing relationships with the consultant will always be preferable – although it is also important to be aware how you differentiate yourself from your peer referrer. If they have the relationship and have a virtually identical background, what benefit is there in your recommendation?

Choose the path least trodden
It may well be worth your while forging your own relationships, or certainly facilitating your own introductions. Understand the approach you desire. Do your homework. Don’t solely target known SME/Entrepreneurial specialist consultants if you seek a FTSE-50 move, and Vice-Versa. Similarly, if you seek a far more mature, very old-school approach, more staid search consultant, target accordingly. Likewise if you desire a lither, more modern approach, target younger, more socially (and/or social media) accessible consultants – But be aware that a variety of styles and approaches is a very good thing.

Most consultants will likely be happy to respond to you and you can begin to build your relationships and expand your network. Find out which industry events and seminars your targeted consultants will be attending, and if possible, join that audience and prepare for an in-person introduction.  Understand their activity on Social Media, introductions through Social Media are still one of the best means of rapid introduction.

Remember that most search consultants are not career advisors or basic employment agencies – they may consider you for active searches, but they will not usually search for a job on your behalf.  Unless they also offer specific Individual Career Planning, Executive Search Consultants are unashamedly client focused. They are engaged by, work for and are paid by their client…the hiring company.

Furthermore, unless they offer such services, do not ask for assistance with your resume, general interview tips, or initial guidance in deciding your next career move, you should have a very good idea of that prior to contacting the consultant.

Majority of search consultants prefer to receive a short and simple email from those executives seeking to develop a relationship. Attaching an up-to-date copy of your resume/CV in word format remains the best route. Briefly introduce yourself and include minimal information on your current role and future career plans.

Our CV Tips HERE

Two way street
Make sure to offer yourself as a useful source or contact to the consultant.  HeadHunters themselves network for two reasons, find high quality talent for current and future searches, but also to win new business. If you have spent a career avoiding recruiters and HeadHunters when business developing, or hiding behind HR Departments/Preferred Supplier Agreements, don’t be surprised when HeadHunters themselves become less receptive to your approach/personal enquiry.  A contact who gives a HeadHunter the chance to pitch for business within their current employer will be valued.

Finally, highlight your connections in your industry and detail how you could assist a HeadHunter with any searches they are working on that are not suitable for yourself. This will position you and the search consultant in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Quick tips for networking with recruiters:

  • Do not send a mass email to all search consultants you can find.
  • Be aware of targeted consultants Social Media presence, use it to gain an understanding of their strengths, engage with them and where to find them.
  • Send a personal email to a small, select number of search consultants highlighting why you are keen to work with them.
  • Keep the introduction brief and to the point. Be concise about what you want from the consultant.
  • Detail your background and aspirations in ‘Elevator Pitch’ brevity.
  • Attach your CV
  • Ensure the relationship is two-way.
  • Remember HeadHunters work for, and get paid by the hiring company, not you.

7 Comments on “Getting Noticed by and Networking with HeadHunters”

  1. Good advice here. Are headhunters really open to speculative approaches? most recruiters seem utterly uninterested in contact unless there is short term gain in it for them?

  2. Great blog Gary. Such a stark difference between building a relationship with a headhunter and a recruitment consultant. Your advice here typifies that difference.

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