How to get headhunted
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The ultimate guide on how to get headhunted for your next job

9 Aug 2017

The higher up you go, the less likely you’ll be trawling job sites looking for your next move. But how exactly does one get headhunted? Hays’ Lynne Roeder is here to help.

As a more senior-level professional, your quest for a new role will look distinctly different to what it might have looked like 10 years ago.

After all, you are an important part of the organisation and your departure will have further-reaching implications for employees, competitors and shareholders.

Your job search therefore needs to be approached with great delicacy, precision and tact. Ideally, an executive-level recruiter would discreetly seek you out to discuss the perfect role in person – confidentially, of course.

In other words, you would get headhunted. So, how can you further your chances of this happening?

Define your personal brand

Before you do anything, make sure you solidify your personal brand in your own mind. How do you want to be perceived by the headhunter?

For instance, you may want to be viewed as an IT security expert with a wealth of experience, passion for new technologies plus an affinity for leading other people. Have this clear in your head, take note and ensure that it translates as you proceed with each of the next steps.

Get your online profiles up to date

Now check that your online profiles – for instance, LinkedIn – are all up to date and aligned with your personal brand, from your job title, to your skills and experience.

Take this opportunity to make sure you have a professional-looking photo on your profile and that you haven’t made any mistakes or spelling errors.

You should also check the privacy settings on your personal social media accounts and ensure that there’s nothing inappropriate to be found.

Remember, social media will be one of the main tools headhunters use to find out more about potential recruits. Make sure you use it to your advantage.

Show off your expertise

On this note, it is in your interest to grow your online presence in order to show off your expertise. There are plenty of ways to do this, from writing blogs, to recording podcasts and getting involved in industry discussions on forums.

You don’t have to restrict yourself to the internet, either. Volunteer yourself for interviews with industry publications, offer to speak at events – basically get out there and share your knowledge, making sure you are constantly channelling your inner personal brand.

Whilst humility is a desirable quality for senior leaders to have, there’s no harm in proudly stating the achievements that reflect your expertise, whether it’s adding them to your ‘Accomplishments’ section on LinkedIn, or taking a picture of an award you have received and posting it to Instagram or Twitter using the relevant industry hashtags.

If you haven’t already, you could also look at awards for your job title and your team, and ask people if they would consider nominating you. These types of accolades can generate great industry press coverage, bringing headhunters one step closer to finding you.

Using the platforms available to you will demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, and it is one of the most effective ways of getting headhunted.

Network properly

Build some valuable face-to-face relationships, starting with your current and former colleagues. Make sure you have an ongoing professional rapport with them, treat everyone with respect and never burn your bridges – you never know who knows who.

You should also make the effort to develop new business contacts. Go to events and make sure your name, title and company is on the attendee list.

Scan this list yourself beforehand and ask the host to introduce you to potentially useful contacts. Remember to bring up-to-date business cards, take the cards of people you meet and stay in contact afterwards, be it through connecting on LinkedIn or sending a follow-up email.

Know when you’re being headhunted

As I said at the beginning, the art of headhunting is a subtle one, thus it’s important to be able to actually tell when you are being headhunted, so you can either carry on the conversation or politely cut it short.

An executive-level recruiter will most likely get in contact over the phone, via email or LinkedIn. Rather than disclosing information about the opportunity there and then, they will try and get a meeting in the diary with you to discuss this classified information further.

The recruiter will also be very accommodating, working around your schedule and location as they know that, given your seniority, you will have a lot of commitments.

Simply put, in order to get headhunted, an executive-level recruiter needs to know who you are, what you have to offer and where to find you. In following the above advice, you will increase your chances of this happening, but remember: discretion is the key on both sides.

By Lynne Roeder

Lynne Roeder is managing director of Hays in Singapore. She has more than 17 years of experience within the recruitment industry across the UK, Australia and Asia.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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