One of the most nerve wracking experiences an individual can receive as they progress through their career is a telephone call from a headhunter. Whilst such a call can represent both validation and recognition of hard work it can also prove daunting and terrifying if not approached correctly.
Receiving contact from headhunters can prove a rewarding experience if dealt with in an appropriate fashion and, as such, there are a number of different considerations that should be applied when dealing with them.
Knowing what they want
For many people who have not had prior experience in dealing with headhunters a call could represent to them nothing short of a solid job offer. This is not the case. When a headhunter makes contact they are simply undertaking a bit of research for their own benefit; they have been employed by a company to find the best possible individual to fill a certain role and it is in the headhunter’s best interests to do as much research as they can before putting candidates forward. More often than not a headhunter will “feel out” several prospective candidates at once, phoning them and ask if they would hypothetically be interested in a new role. From the information collated at this stage the headhunter will make a short list and from there whittle down the candidates further.
Treat every interaction like an interview
As headhunters will invariably be contacting a plethora of people, it is within the candidate’s best interests to do everything they possibly can to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do this is to treat every single instance of contact with a headhunter with the utmost professionalism; that is to act as if every interaction is an actual job interview.
For job interviews, and therefore in interactions with headhunters, it is important for individual’s to not just be polite and courteous but also to be well prepared and eloquent. Due to the fact headhunters will be observing a number of candidates from similar professional backgrounds, and more than likely similar qualifications, every small thing an individual can do to stand out will act as an advantage for them.
The initial call
The earliest possible instance to make a bad impression on a headhunter is, of course, in the first interaction. Oftentimes a lack of professionalism can be shown during a first phone call and, more often than not, this can be accidental; being headhunted is an alien experience to many and there are a number of reasons this can cause panic.
Many candidates have a propensity to worry about where headhunters have gained the individual’s contact details from. Usually the answer to this proves rather innocent or innocuous and constitutes nothing to worry about; a friend, work acquaintance or colleague could have forwarded the phone number or it may have appeared in an industry directory. Another reason to panic is the idea of discussing new opportunities whilst in the middle of the current workplace. This is easy to work around; simply ask the headhunter if it is possible to swap details and make arrangements for a secondary interaction at a later date. This will give the individual an opportunity to compose themselves and allows for preparation to be made so as to appear knowledgeable and eloquent on the subjects to be discussed.
If the position is unappealing
It is not uncommon for a headhunter to phone and begin to discuss what could constitute an unappealing role for the individual. It is, in many instances, easy therefore to dismiss the headhunter out of hand. This is a mistake; any perceived slight or rudeness could cut off any avenues for future contact, something which could be a mistake particularly as a headhunter could have potentially returned with a more appealing role or in case the individual’s circumstances chaged at a later date. The best thing to do in this instance would be to politely decline the headhunters opportunity but to take the opportunity to recommend any colleague who may be more open to the role. In doing so the interaction is likely to have been of benefit to three parties as opposed to none.