When a headhunter calls they tend to do so out of the blue. Due to the immediacy of their actions, oftentimes individuals who are contacted by headhunters will find themselves in situations that are entirely alien to them and also intensely daunting. Although the headhunters’ call can be gratifying, a vindication of hard work put in by the individual being recognised, it can also be nerve wracking particularly if the correct protocol is not observed during these interactions. To make the process easier for all involved it is worth considering why exactly the headhunter is calling and what procedures to follow when they do. Why have they called?
The first thing to consider when a headhunter phones is their reason for doing so. Some people may assume that the headhunter has called specifically to offer a position of employment. This is not correct. Instead a headhunter will call to make preliminary enquiries as to whether an individual would be hypothetically interested in a position which they will discuss. This is done because a headhunter will contact a number of individuals at roughly the same time to gage the level of interest in a position of employment the headhunter has been contracted to fill. From here a headhunter will create a shortlist of potentially interested candidates and whittle down a shortlist from these names.
As previously mentioned a headhunter will be making an effort to contact a number of potential candidates simultaneously so, as such, it is important for an individual to do as much as possible to stand out from the rest of the candidates. A good way to do this is to treat every interaction and contact with a headhunter as if it were a formal interview even though, as noted, they are not. As with interviews it is imperative to be polite and courteous at all times and, if possible, in later interactions make sure preparation and research has been made to come across as professional as possible. Also it is worth noting that the headhunter will be looking through a list of individuals who all have similar experience and are all similarly qualified. Little things, such as good manners, could be the key to progressing past other candidates in the eyes of the headhunter.
The intial call
Whilst it is possible for individuals to prepare notes and thoughts for secondary interactions it would be impossible to do so the first time a headhunter calls out of the blue. As such there are a couple of things that can be done to help the initial interaction run smoothly. One of the main causes for concern for individuals receiving calls from headhunters comes from both having no time to prepare thoughts and also of the possibility of having to discuss other opportunities whilst still in the place of current employment (as this is more than likely where this call will be received). A way to sidestep these issues is to simply ask to swap contact details and arrange a more convenient time to discuss these opportunities. This gives the individual enough time to gather themselves, reconvene to a more comfortable location and also time to research both the potential opportunity and the headhunter themselves. A second point of worry, which causes panic for many, is trying to figure where the headhunter has gained the individual’s contact details from. More often than not the answer is quite innocuous – contact details are quite easy to come by in industry directories or even on social media such as Linked In. Another, perhaps more likely way, is that the phone number has been forwarded by a colleague or workmate to the headhunter. Once this has been considered it is easy to get past the panic of the headhunters call and to try and maximise the headhunting experience.
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of careers related topics including employment, freelance occupations and international headhunters.