Tech & Work

How to work with a headhunter

In today's market, everyone serious about their career should use the advice of experts. Headhunters or recruiters are a valuable resource that is often not considered by those looking for a job. In this article, John M McKee discusses key steps for smart job seekers.

 The average person currently between the ages of 25 and 35 will probably have 8 jobs over their lifetime. Presuming they retire at age 70, that means they'll spend about 5 years per job, give or take a year.

How long have you've been in the same role? Is it time to look around? Even if you don't think that the time is ideal from your perspective, keep in mind that this economy may take that decision out of your hands.

Here's a good rule to observe: Leaving your fate in the hands of others is just dumb. It's kind of like, "managing by crossed fingers".

Companies are often under more duress than they seem. Burdensome loans or tough business agreements may outweigh how they appear to be doing from an outsider's perspective. We see clear evidence of this pretty frequently with the latest bailouts. Just 2 days before the Feds saved Citibank (one of the world's largest banks) the CEO made the statement that they had ample reserves to survive on their own.

Additionally, just consider the bosses of today: With fewer of them, they may simply be too busy to look after you, your growth, or even your employment. And let's not forget that old adage about the world getting flatter all the time. There are a lot of individuals who would be very happy to do your job, often for less money.

So, get proactive. Here's a checklist of the steps everyone should take at least once a year: 1. Keep your resume current. If you aren't sure about how it should look, go to PongoResume for tips and ideas. I recommend it be just 1 page in length. Treat it like the headline on a newspaper - all you want to do is catch the eye of the reader and get a foot in the door. If anyone's interested, they'll reach out to you. Then you provide a more detailed paper. 2. Find headhunters / recruiters to work with. I suggest having a relationship with at least two individuals. Three is better. They can be national organizations or local - one of each is smart because different employer HR Departments will use different approaches, so this will cast a wider net. In most cases, headhunters are paid by the hiring company not the job seeker. If the one with whom you connect asks you to pay for their service, be cautious. Ask if they get paid by employers for filling their needs and if so how much. The best headhunters don't charge individuals. When they do charge, it's only a token amount to put you on file. 3. Cozy up to your new "career partner". Most of the good ones are really busy. So you need to help them understand that you're different /better/ very interesting. Ideally they'll smell gold when they talk to you because you can show them how really good you'd be for any company that takes you on. Many people don't like having to "sell" themselves; but the time you spend helping your headhunter to see your greatness; the better an outcome you'll experience. Without looking like a spammer or some weirdo, send them interesting bits of information, and "drop in" on them by email simply to wish them a successful day. In the marketing business, this is called keeping "top of mind". 4. When you do get to the interview stage with a prospective employer, ask the headhunter for her / his advice. Then take it. It's not to your benefit to get into a debate with the headhunter about why you have a better idea about what to say or how to proceed in the interview. They probably know the client and they've definitely got more experience with this than you.

In the interview use the 40/60 rule. That means: let the other person talk 60% of the time. A common mistake of job interviewees is that they talk too much as they strive to show how great they are. At the very least it's a turn-off. Worse, it may cause the interviewer to question your listening skills (never a good thing).

5. At the end of the interview, ask how the interviewer sees you as a candidate in this search. I find that most will tell you honestly what they think. Thank them for their feedback. If possible, ask if you can call them to follow-up on the progress. Don't accept the old, "leave it with me - I'll get back to you" stuff. That will just cause you increased sleeplessness and more acid reflux. 6. The next day after the meeting, call the headhunter to brief him/her and also to ask what they've heard. Accept what they tell you. Don't get defensive. (S)he is your career partner and has no reason to give you bad advice.

Afterward, write the interviewer and thank them for seeing you. Tell them a couple of reasons why you know you'd be a great fit for the job and company and say that you want it. Remind them you will call to follow-up on the progress of the search.

Always keep your headhunter up to date and copy him or her on your communications with the job prospect.

Good hunting!

john

Leadership Coach

About John McKee

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

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