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How to Increase Your Chances of Being Headhunted
Are you thinking about your next career move but unsure about how to start the process?
As a successful IT leader or CIO, it’s likely that your future career opportunities will be in the hands of executive search specialists or ‘headhunters’.
The days of ‘registering’ with a contingent recruiter and waiting for the calls are behind you.
So what happens now?
Here is my insider’s guide to helping you increase your chances of being ‘headhunted’:
Always strive to get noticed because of personal contributions to your team’s successes. If the people in your industry are recognising you for your achievements then you’ll stand out more and be easier to find. You’re also more likely to get recommendations if you’re someone who stands out in your market; referrals are a headhunter’s lifeblood and a key way of building networks. Make sure you have a positive reputation in the market.
Be an expert and have a USP
Value alignment between an individual and a prospective employer is a crucial part of the recruitment decision, but most headhunters will also be seeking individuals with specific skills and experience. Whether it be systems integration, major ERP implementation or innovation in an area such as omni-channel retailing, make sure you have a USP that identifies you as a genuine leader in your field.
Make yourself visible
One of the most effective ways of being recognised and identified as top talent is to participate actively in dialogue within your field. Speaking at industry events or conferences and getting articles you’ve written highlighted in relevant publications, will boost your visibility and give an employer something to reference alongside your CV.
U se LinkedIn and other social networking
While headhunters will still use traditional search methods, it’s becoming increasingly common for researchers to also utilise online tools as part of their ‘long-list’ building process. As a result, it is advisable to build yourself a compelling LinkedIn profile. This should clearly outline your achievements and give details of the deliverables and accountabilities of your current and recent roles. Make sure you have some relevant recommendations, ideally from people at senior levels within your current organisation or a stakeholder for whom you have delivered something. Ideally they will set the context of the recommendation rather than a general ‘nice person’ type recommendation.
Networking effectively amongst your peer group and across your industry is a powerful way to increase your chances of being headhunted. Remember, networking is a two-way process so make every effort to stay in touch and maintain a relationship with well-connected colleagues, whilst also reaching out to other people who you know are figureheads within your industry.
Invest in professional relationships for the long-term
The most successful networkers invest in their professional relationships consistently and over the long-term. Approaching networking in this way is far more genuine and more likely to reward you than the ‘suddenly enthusiastic’ networking that people often end up trying when they need a job.
Use a headhunter when you’re recruiting
One of the easiest ways of developing a relationship with an executive search firm is by using them in your own recruitment process. The strongest professional relationships are often those that are beneficial to both parties. So, if you’ve discovered a search firm relevant for your own career development, contact them when you are hiring. If you’re already known to that firm they are far more likely to approach you during another search.
Key points to remember
- Take a long-term approach to building strong, mutually-beneficial relationships both internally and externally. Recruitment is very relationship driven at executive levels.
- Stay visible and ensure that your key skills and achievements are in the public domain.
- Pick the key recruiters in your market and engage with them. An upfront investment with a small group of well chosen recruiters will pay big dividends.
- Do not leave this activity until you are actively looking – these approaches all take time.