How Do You Introduce Yourself to a Headhunter?
The US recruitment industry is rather significant, being the first in terms of agency work sales revenues. Recruitment firms are an integral part of the US work market, meaning candidates will most likely have to deal with headhunters in their professional journey.
Headhunters can deal with a great number of candidates depending on the industry they specialise in. As a candidate, it is therefore important to introduce yourself in the best way when approaching a specific headhunter for the first time. As mentioned in our article “How to Get the Most Out of the Candidate-Recruiter Relationship”, building a great relationship with your headhunter can accelerate your job search process, and you could find yourself accepting an offer way sooner than you think.
If you are considering a new career path or want to explore other job options, see the 5 tips below on how to properly introduce yourself to a headhunter.
First step: Establish who you are and what you want
Without getting into a full-blown metaphysical discussion about the meaning of life, you need to be self-aware enough to know what standing your education and experience hold in the market, and given this understanding, know where you would like to employ your skills.
You don’t need to answer all these questions completely, you just need to know enough to steer the headhunter in the right direction when you are ready to connect with them. Part of a headhunter’s job is to consult and coach its candidates on that front: you must be ready to ascertain clear goals and strategies to achieve them.
Second step: Research the right headhunter
Now that you know what you want, conduct some simple research into the key recruiters in the market within your space.
Depending on your goals, you may want to reach out to several headhunters in different fields, for example a specialist fintech headhunter and a specialist hedge fund headhunter. It is normally good practice to keep your approaches down to a small number, usually 2 or 3. This will help you establish a better relationship with each of them and have better-suited roles coming your way.
There are pros and cons associated with large recruitment firms or smaller and more specialised ones. As a boutique agency, we do believe that when you opt for a niche headhunting firm, you will usually receive a more tailored approach and interact with a recruiter who thoroughly understands the market and your specialism. You will also mostly find that these headhunters are more incentivised and enthusiastic to help you in your search.
Third step: Think of your approach
Headhunters are human. I know – surprising.
This means that recruiters, just like candidates, appreciate the normal human niceties and frank discussions. Both parties need to communicate what they want and what they can do in a transparent manner.
One big mistake most candidates make when approaching a headhunter is withholding key information. Keep in mind that recruiters are there to help you find your next career move – they are working with and for you. Not letting them know what your current salary is or omitting some important CV information won’t help anyone in your job search process. Transparency is always key.
Businesses keep on talking about the importance of cultural fit between a business and potential candidate. The same principle applies for headhunters and candidates: you must find a firm that matches your goals and your work ethos. Once you have created your own shortlist of headhunting firms, pick up the phone and call them up for a more personalised approach. With everyone going digital nowadays – even more in 2020 in COVID times – personal interaction will make you stand out from the crowd. Don’t forget to be upfront with your initial interaction: let them know what you are looking for, what your goals are and see if the firm’s process and mentality fits with your own expectations.
Fourth step: Meeting the headhunter
If a headhunter invites you to a face-to-face meeting, chances are there is a strong likelihood they will be able to help you in your job search. From the headhunter’s perspective, the purpose of meeting candidates in person is twofold. First, they will see how you would interview with their clients and which firms could represent the best cultural fit for you. Second, this interview will give them a better understanding of how you come across as a person, in person, and if you would interview well generally.
It is therefore important for candidates to understand that a face-to-face meeting with a headhunter isn’t just an informal coffee chat. A meeting with candidates is usually required before you are put forward for a role as a necessary screening measure. While no preparation is required for this first meeting, keep in mind that this is your first opportunity to put your best self forward.
Fifth step: Following up
For candidates who are actively looking for a new role, sporadic follow ups are essential to always be on top of your recruiter’s mind. Nurture your relationship with your headhunter by reaching out time to time and asking them what the market is like, if they have any new roles, etc. Of course, like any normal person, recruiters don’t like being harassed: following up about the same role every two days is not likely to be taken well – moderation is key here!
Building a strong relationship with a headhunter can definitely help you in your next career move if you kickstart the said relationship on the right foot. By staying true to yourself and by always being honest with your recruiter, you will position yourself as a trust-worthy candidate who will be remain top-of-mind when a great opportunity arises.