Headhunters. We can’t escape our sometimes poor reputation, but in truth, we’re not all bad. In this article, we give our advice on how you can best collaborate with your headhunter, what you need to think about before contacting one and how you can manage the process effectively to get the job you truly belong in.
Please note that this is geared towards how we usually would work with a candidate, some headhunting firms might have different values and procedures.
What does a headhunter do?
A headhunter connects talent with prospective clients. They’re your partner in the hiring process and will help you prep on what to expect and with the interview process. They can provide you with a clear path to the Hiring Manager’s inbox and give insight into what the company is like to work for.
Hedge Funds expect headhunters to carry out due diligence and s/he is likely to ask you a lot of technical questions. This is to assess whether you’re right for the role they are working on. The more senior roles the headhunter is working on, the more the conversation will be business focused and geared towards behavioural competencies like leadership and/or communication.
Picking the right headhunter
Headhunters should earn your candidacy. Carry out your own due diligence before working with one. You can do this by asking them about their experience within the industry, their track record, what positions are on their radar and who they represent. Also, ask your own network for recommendations.
When it comes to boutique versus large agencies - bigger isn’t always better. Working with headhunters who specialise in your field will ensure they have market expertise, better relationships with Hiring Managers and ultimately give you better guidance.
Finding the right headhunter is a crucial part of your job search and shouldn’t be a decision you rush into based on a LinkedIn message.
Great headhunters versus contingency recruiters
Managing your career involves setting goals and having a good idea about how you are going to achieve them, this is something a good headhunter can help you with.
However, not all headhunters will go to these lengths, especially ‘contingency recruiters’ sometimes mistaken for as headhunters. Some recruiters simply ‘CV spam’ i.e. they get hold of your CV and send it out to multiple employers without a second thought of what it is you want or where you will best fit in. Be wary of these recruiters and choose who you work with carefully.
How can you best work with a headhunter?
Like in any form of relationship, honesty really is the best policy. If you’ve already spoken to the client that the headhunter is working with, then tell them. If you can discuss your current compensation this will help the headhunter negotiate a better deal for you (note there are some states in the U.S where you cannot discuss your compensation). If they have their finger on the pulse you can also ask them to salary benchmark you.
Working with just one or two headhunters can be a lot more effective as well. You lower your chance of getting interview-fatigue and avoid your CV being submitted to a client more than once – Hiring Managers complain this happens a lot and this isn’t a great first impression for you to make.
Also, don’t send an email with multiple other headhunters cc’d in. This isn’t a good way of starting a relationship. And yes, people actually do that.
How to overcome challenges in the process
One of the biggest challenges for headhunters is communication. Often, they wait for feedback from the client and candidates can sometimes get impatient. That is understandable. Feel free to follow up with your headhunter, they should provide you with weekly updates.
Navigating confidentiality and talking about your experience without revealing IP can be tricky. You need to be able to trust your headhunter and find the right balance between showcasing your experience and giving up confidential information.
In short: be selective with who you work with, know what you want and then be prepared when going for it.