POSTED Thursday 03-03-22
How to Get Headhunted: 7 Insider Tips
At Aspen we’re always looking for the best candidates. We don’t settle for those we suspect won’t be a great fit, even if it means asking to extend deadlines for a job posting. Of course, we can only put forward candidates if they are visible, which means there is plenty to be doing on your end to ensure you are being considered. Here are some insider tips for the best chances to be headhunted for exciting new opportunities and roles.
- Network to increase your visibility
This is obviously necessary to our role, as we need to be aware of people and connections within industries. But networking on your end too helps you get your name out there, as well as creating strong professional alliances and relationships which will benefit you in the future. Networking can sometimes feel like a chore, and it can be hard to force yourself to be sociable (especially in a business environment), but it’s always worthwhile to make yourself known to others, and crucially, to us.
Networking events are a good place to start, but also attending and/or speaking at conferences, leading seminars, and being consistently active on industry-related forums and discussions groups are great ways to make yourself visible. Bring along business cards, and make sure to include your name, title, and organisation on attendance lists as head-hunters often scan these, and you might as well make it as easy as possible to find you afterwards.
- Build mutually beneficial relationships
This goes hand-in-hand with networking, but it’s important not to just show up and leave. Make an impact by building up relationships and attracting clients, as it’s very common for executive head-hunters to suggest professionals that they’ve worked with before. In line with this, don’t be afraid to work with executive search companies to help you fill roles within your own organisation or business, as this is a great way to foster a relationship with them and make yourself more visible too. It means that you are more likely to be at the front of their minds if a suitable role pops up.
- Have a professional and personable social media profile
We’ve all heard the dangers of leaving up a photo on social media of a drunken night out, or perhaps we’ve chastised our adult children for doing so. But it is true that employers routinely check LinkedIn and Facebook, and considering the former is more specifically tailored to the business world, it’s worth maintaining a professional profile. Make sure to include up-to-date contact information and other relevant info for employers, such as experience, skills, and testimonies.
This may seem obvious, but what’s harder to pull off is having a profile that’s professional, but not too clinical. If possible, try to include a bit of personality; your bio is the best place for this. Think of a fun description of your role rather than your title alone, such as ‘affable and affordable life coach’ or ‘up-and-coming social media guru’. This will help you stand out from the countless other social media profiles on LinkedIn.
Posting consistent and engaging content (but not so often as to alienate friends and followers) is a great way to increase your social media presence and likelihood of appearing following a Google search. It also helps control what appears when you are searched for online, which leads us to our next point…
- Be aware of your online presence
It’s great to comment on articles or others’ social media and be part of a wider discussion, but be aware of what you’re commenting on public forums. When employers search for you on Google, these comments are likely to appear early in the search results. A good way to check what’s visible to head-hunters is to Google your own name and see what comes up. If there are comments that you wouldn’t say in a workplace, consider tidying them up or deleting them. What matters here is not so much what you say – we have legal protections for freedom of speech, after all – but how you say them. Aggression and antagonism will not create a favourable impression of what you are like to work with, and depending if you have a relationship with the head-hunters or not, these comments may be the most they have to go on to get a sense of you. The idea is not to self-censor, but simply be aware of what’s out there, and what context might be missing if these comments are considered in isolation.
- Understand the difference in dynamic between head-hunters and recruitment agencies
Although similar sounding, there is a massive difference – especially in dynamic – between a head-hunter and recruitment agency. Head-hunters are looking at a small pool of candidates for individual top-level positions, so sending in CVs en masse is generally a waste of time as the information will be too generic for what head-hunters are looking for. Because there is a client on the other end who is paying for a service, it’s important not to waste anybody’s time; be honest about what you can achieve, your expectations, and your suitability. This isn’t to say you can’t advocate for yourself; you should, and in fact, don’t be coy just because you’re being considered for a top position. Transparency and expediency are best here considering the dynamic between head-hunter, client, and yourself.
- If possible, be/stay employed
This tip feels cruel if you are unemployed and looking to be headhunted, but the reality is that head-hunters are looking for evidence that you are suitable for top executive roles. Being unemployed doesn’t mean you aren’t or can’t be suitable, but it will be hard to compete with those who are in employment. If you are working and looking for a new job, then try your best not to throw in the towel for your current position just yet; stick it out with the view that being employed will only increase your visibility and profile to be considered for better roles to come.
- Realise that the best approach is to play the long game
Following on from the last tip, it’s important to remember that head-hunters are considering a small pool of candidates for top executive positions. As mentioned before, the process is more than just matching skills and experience, but finding a good fit for the company and the specific, individual role they’re looking to fill. It might be the case that there aren’t many suitable roles for you at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. Often it is a combination of luck and timing that means you are available and there is a suitable role on offer, so don’t feel too defeated if nothing immediately pops up.
In the end, there is only so much control you have over being headhunted, but these tips should give you an insight in what you can do to increase your chances. Partly it’s about being visible, but furthermore, if you have a strong profile and presence, this puts you in an even better position to negotiate benefits and salaries when you are eventually headhunted for new roles. Keep at it, as you never know what might come your way.