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Headhunters or Headshrinkers?

Guest blog written by Nick Wykeman.

If you are looking for a job in senior management in London, headhunters are essential for you to achieve your goal. They provide the link between a business and candidates. Their networks are unparalleled and their suggestions on candidates worth interviewing are always accepted by businesses. Knowing how to contact them and use them is essential if you wish to succeed. Here are 10 tips on dealing with headhunters:

  • 1. Master Plan; it is important to prepare before you make contact with headunters- the key questions to be answered are what type of job are you looking for, which industries are you interested in and do you have a good story about your skills, achievements and progress in your career. Headhunters are interested in people who will look impressive in front of their clients so this is very important.
  • 2. Pick Your Head;make sure that you research the headhunters and check their areas of operation. Most specialise in one area of management – such as sales and marketing, finance or chief executives, specific industries and on different types of business – charities, private equity, quoted companies.
  • 3. Come Recommended;the best way to get a chat with a headhunter is to come recommended. If someone feels that you are good enough for them to recommend, then you are far more likely to be invited for a coffee and a chat. The best way to get recommendations is to talk to your friends and previous colleagues and see who they know in London.
  • 4. Honest But Thoughtful;when you do get to talk to a headhunter you should come across as honest but think carefully about how you present yourself. There are two nightmares for headhunters – those candidates who have big stories that do not stack up and those that are poor in interviews. The latter should be relatively easy for them to spot but the former is likely to lead the candidate being blacklisted. Being dishonest about your qualifications or skills is a cardinal sin in the UK. So be honest but show your best side.
  • 5. Communicate; it is key if you want to find a new position that you communicate with headhunters on a regular basis – usually monthly. Things move fast and you are not always at the top of their thoughts since they deal with a lot of people. A regular call keeps your name in their mind and shows drive.
  • 6. Two-way Street; headhunters naturally work for their clients but need a flow of candidates. So you should also think about their needs. Providing information about people around you or friends who have recommended you gives them up to date information of people in the market. If you help them they are far more likely to help you in return.
  • 7. Extracting Knowledge; headhunters in London are a close knit bunch; most know each other and are regularly talking to each other. Do not be afraid to ask their advice on who to approach and what they think of jobs that you have been offered. They are discreet and will naturally be flattered to be asked.
  • 8. Social Media; although a lot of larger headhunters come via calls and recommendations the smaller headhunters quite often search via LinkedIn. You will find that once you update your cv and include key words on LinkedIn you will receive a lot of inquiries. For more tips on LinkedIn, see previous blog Get LinkedIn London.
  • 9. Selective;Do not spread yourself too widely. Headhunters are different from recruiters in that they do not often compete for filling vacancies. If you have too many on the go at the same time, you are likely to spend too little time on each. An ideal maximum would be 10.
  • 10. Post-op Messages; Once you have been lucky enough to get your next position make sure that you make contact with your other headhunters to let them know and to thank them for their help. This will keep the contact warm and give the message that you are moving on in the market – always good for the future.

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