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How to Respond When Called by a Headhunter

admin | 19.04.2012

Do you avoid those calls from headhunters simply because you consider yourself happy in your current role? Maybe you should re-consider... Read on and learn why having one or more headhunters in your corner can be a good thing for your career... How do you respond when you are minding your business and you get an unexpected phone call or voice mail from a headhunter? You listen to him or her or you return their phone call! Recruiters speak with a myriad of candidates and clients throughout any given week and in the process of doing so accumulate a wealth of information. This information includes such things as learning which companies are hiring and why, where the best places to work are, which industries are in growth mode, which industries are vulnerable, and the list goes on and on. Adding a reputable recruiter to your professional network may be one of the best things you can do for the future of your career. For purposes of brevity, we’ll use the term “recruiters” to encompass anyone who calls themselves a headhunter, executive search consultant, talent acquisition specialist, etc. The recruiter calling you may be in a position to offer you an exceptional opportunity to one or more of the following benefits: 1. Learn about a prospective opportunity that may be properly aligned to provide you with upward mobility in your career. 2. In the event that the position is not properly aligned to your career profile, the mere discussion may provide you with some keen insights into validating and referencing where you are in your current role and how you stand within the industry in terms of things like seniority and compensation. 3. No one has a more vested interest in your career than yourself. Adding a reputable headhunter in your professional network can avail yourself of future opportunities when your present role is possibly in question. 4. Participating in an interview process can allow you to hone your interview skills and will make you more aware of the value that you offer to a prospective employer. This article was written to help professionals and executives in agribusiness or related industries in North America to effectively work with recruiters for the combined benefit of the talent (you), the recruiter, and the recruiter’s client (your potential next employer). Recruiters work with many experienced and those “who think they are experienced” professionals and executives every week. Recruiters will always gravitate to people who understand the dynamics of the talent market and what the recruiter is tasked to do. Candidates naively attempting to be arrogant or stand-offish are often viewed as masking insecurity or a lack of knowledge that only serves to alienate them from the recruiter. If you understand how to interact with him or her, the recruiter can actually be a strong ally for you throughout the life of your career. The following guidelines will help you in responding to a call from a recruiter: a. Get as much information as you can about the nature of the position and the company they are promoting. Such information would include company size, industry, geographic location, why the position is open and what happened to the last two people in that job. Due to confidentiality restrictions placed on them by their client, the recruiter may or may not be able to answer all of your questions. If they can answer your questions, then you will be able to determine if the position is truly of interest to you and/or learn how your profile is aligned with the needs of their client. b. Under no circumstances should you go around the recruiter or search firm in order to contact the prospective employer directly. This will serve to alienate you from the search firm and will reflect poorly on you by the potential employer. They provided the search assignment to the recruiter for a purpose which is usually related to the recruiter’s industry knowledge, credibility and integrity. By going behind the recruiter’s back and direct to the employer you are implying that you lack professionalism, an understanding of protocol, and basic integrity. c. Be prepared to present yourself with the same professionalism, interest and enthusiasm as you would present directly to the employer. The recruiter needs to feel confident in his/her representation of you. You are a reflection of the recruiter’s value to their client which will ultimately reflect in whether you get introduced to their client and with what level of enthusiasm that they will represent you. d. Do not try to modify or retro-fit your skills to meet the requirements of the role you are being solicited for. Don’t attempt to fake it, it will only serve to devalue your profile in the eyes of the recruiter. Instead, offer the recruiter names of colleagues or others that you believe would be a better match for the role. In this way, you become a resource to the recruiter and they will most likely remember you when they get a future search assignment that is better aligned to your profile. e. Learn from your relationship with the recruiter. If the recruiter is able to get you an interview with his / her client, then request that they provide you with feedback about how their client received you. Any information that you can gain can serve to help you as you continue with the interview process with their client or with other potential employers. Warren Carter is the founder and Senior Managing Partner of AgriFind Executive Search. Warren can be reached at (619) 921-1795 for comment. AgriFind is a subsidiary of QualiFind Executive Search. Other versions of this article exist in QualiFind’s website and the subsidiary practice of MaquilaFind.