All you need to know when a head hunter calls

Author: Milena Pervanje
January 2018

Your phone just rang and it is a local or international head hunter offering you a new career opportunity. Weather you are looking for a new job or not it is crucial how you respond. 

Many people are very surprised by such a phone call or an e-mail, even so much so that they categorically refuse or, alternatively, are so unprepared for this that they get confused and can't even accept an introductory meeting invitation thus botching the first impression.  

As one never knows when an opportunity like this might come knocking it is best to prepare oneself in advance.  This article will explain how most of such selections happen and how to prepare yourself for them so you can respond in a professional manner at all times.  

What is an executive search

Searching for top executives or an executive search is done by local HR consulting firms of foreign specialized agencies. Research teams gather data about interesting managers or experts the clients need or want and consultants then contact them. 

These positions are never advertised since the clients don't want the competition or the market to know that they are looking for people to fill key positions as that would reveal their weak spot. They also don't want a surge of candidates from the work force market. That is why consultants contact suitable candidates directly and the search is conducted discretely. 

No wonder you're surprised

It is perfectly understandable to be surprised by such an invitation. All consultants who look for key positions' candidates in such a manner are aware of that because we usually don't search among active job seekers but rather invite up-and-coming experts who are already successful in their current employment, acknowledged and appreciated and are probably not even considering a job change. 

We understand that we have just surprised you and turned your life upside down. We know that you might need some time to think and to prepare and we will offer help if you need it. 

But even by reading this article you can prepare yourself for such a situation. So check out these 7 steps leading to your new dream job. 

Head hunters consults both, the client and the invited candidate, so feel free to turn to us for help and guidance.

1. Mind your first response

So you were just invited to become a candidate in an executive search. A promotion or perhaps even your dream job might be at stake here. How do you respond?

The steps which follow depend on your career goals, your position at your current employer and the vision you have for your personal and professional development. But regardless of all that – don't turn down the opportunity at first contact unless you have really strong reasons to do so. We live in a dynamic world and even if you are perfectly happy right know and feel you have a care-free future ahead of you all can change literally overnight. A takeover might happen, new owners come, he market changes or the management is replaced...

It is also quite interesting to peek into the work force market to evaluate your position in it and to follow trends in your field. So why say no? There will be plenty of time for that down the road. 

Turning the offer down immediately makes sense: 

  • When you are mid-mandate on a key position.
  • When you are working on an important long-term project.
  • When you have already negotiated a promotion. 
  • When you are involved in an educational process. 

But in every other scenario do take time to think and don't turn down the head hunter's offer immediately. 

2. Keep your CV updated

It is a good idea to keep an updated CV because a head hunter will ask you for it. It is generally easier to regularly update a CV so make this a routine, something you do at every more significant success or every six or twelve months.   

Make sure to update your CV on all platforms where you have it published, such as LinkedIn

3. Take a deep breath 

After your talk to the consultant you can take time to thoroughly think things over. Once you have information about the client, their expectations, goals of the job and all other details you can make a decision on how to proceed. 

4. Candidacy

If you reach a conclusion that the position you were offered is a step forward in your career, that it will contribute to fulfilling your personal and professional goals, then you will confirm your candidacy  and the consultant will give your data to he client. Should the person responsible for the selection within the client company find you interesting as well, a consultant will inform you about the interview date.

Prepare thoroughly for this interview. A good consultant can help you a lot with this because we know the client and their needs and we can efficiently guide you in your preparation for the interview. 

5. It's OK to say NO but do so tactfully

It is possible you will choose not to continue past this point. If that is so, proceed in a professional manner and let your decision be known before the potential employer makes any concrete plans about you. Let those who you were in contact with thus far know you are resigning from your candidacy. 

This is a legitimate decision and making it won't close any doors for you regarding future opportunities within the client company or with the head hunter, providing that you make your decision known at the right time and that you deliver the news diplomatically. 

Be tactful presenting the arguments for your decision. You never know when your paths will cross with the client's again and in what way. 
Don't forget that information about a company searching for a new employee might be secret. So don't spread it around as that might cause damage to the client company and yourself. 

6. When the opportunity attracts

In this case prepare for more interviews. They will become more and more concrete all the way to the submission of offer or letter of intent or employment contract. 

The process can go on for months. During three, four or even more rounds you will meet with potential future colleagues, superiors, co-workers, owners and perhaps even key business partners of the company. 

Right before the end of the process there is the handshake and the agreement confirmation. 

7. Employment and farewell 

Only after all open issues regarding your new employment have been cleared and settled and just before you sign the contract let your current employer know that you are leaving. This step also has to be done correctly so handover your business affairs appropriately, put your business partners relations in order and respect the agreed upon term of notice. 

And now all there is left for me to do is to wish you to enjoy your new job and to be successful in growing your career!

How to become interesting to head hunters?

  • Quality expert work
  • Making a mark in your field of expertise and in the industry you work for
  • Outstanding results
  • Attending and actively participating at expert events