How to Survive the Job Hunt – Get yourself head hunted

Get yourself headhunted

Headhunting is the undercover arm of the recruitment world. You can easily spot the head hunters at conferences and social gatherings. They’re the ones busy networking.

Much of the work is hush hush because companies often do not want to alert their employees, competitors or shareholders to their intentions.

Candidates are handpicked, so it’s a costly and time consuming business and reserved for positions that tend to pay £30k upwards. Quality not quantity is the name of the game and much of it comes down to personal contact and recommendation.

“We are not in the same game as the job shops filling many positions,” says Peter Stratton, a partner at Simpson Recruitment. “They are in the numbers game and the commissions are lower.”

Kristina Wallen, managing director of Harp Wallen, says head hunting involves a lot more research as they are looking for candidates outside the circle of people who are already known.

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Sue Kavanagh, human resources director of Carlson Wagonlit, says she used a Head hunter to find a sales director recently. “People for these roles are not necessarily on the marketplace and actively looking for a job. By using a head hunter, we can get to a different market.”

So how can you be noticed or spot when an approach is being made? Leading head hunters suggest the following do’s and don’ts.


  • Consider contacting a head hunter if you’re looking to earn £30k plus
  • Seek recommendations from friends or colleagues. Ring for a chat before sending in your CV
  • Start networking and increase your profile at industry events and conferences. If you are not known, decide what you are going to do about it. Self PR is often overlooked
  • Be open, honest, clear and specific about your plans and ambitions when talking to a head hunter
  • Develop a close working relationship and stay in touch. Head hunters can provide general careers and employment advice
  • Change company if you’re not getting results
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  • Email your CV to lots of head hunters. They will prefer to work with you exclusively or no more than one other
  • Produce a standard CV. You will need to be more detailed and include a resume outlining your ambitions
  • Wait too long before making a career move. Senior people will stay in a job for three-five years on average

Signs that an approach is being made

  • Personal calls to your company, mobile or e-mail without messages or details being left
  • Follow up calls from someone you have met at conferences or event. Head hunters usually work with people they know or have met
  • General chat or enquires about a colleague. They may really be referring to you.
  • Calls during evenings and weekends
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Getting the best deal

Although being head hunted will give you kudos with your peers, it should also have brought about more money, benefits and promotion prospects. So how do you ensure you get the best deal?

  • Let the head hunter do the negotiation they will tend to know what the company’s maximum deal could be
  • Be clear about your absolute minimum
  • Look carefully at the total package. A six-figure package could mean the inclusion of benefits such as car and pension

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