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  3 Ways to Judge Each Headhunter Who Calls You

Jul 18th

3 Ways to Judge Each Headhunter Who Calls You


Interview, Nail Your Narrative

With your information easily accessible, you've probably received a fair share of calls from headhunters, the majority of who failed to follow up, divulge useful information, and ultimately, obtain any interviews for you! Your frustration may lead you to regard all headhunters with suspicion, resentment, and disdain. Although you may be tempted to swear off all future headhunters, your negative frame of mind may deter the best headhunters from working with you! 

Here are 3 Ways to Judge Each Headhunter Who Calls You to find the headhunter who will accelerate your career.

1. Gauge "likability", confidence level (usually conveyed through vocal tone), and communication style. The first thing to judge any potential salesperson (yes, all headhunters are salespeople!) to represent you on any deal, whether it's a house, your new car or your career, centers around how they work with PEOPLE. If they're unconfident, or "unlikable", it's unlikely you will enjoy working with them. As you'll quickly find out, others don't want to work with them either! Their lack of people skills may hinder even your best efforts as they may botch calls with the hiring manager or HR staff, tainting your candidacy. 

Many companies hire multiple headhunters to recruit for them (whether or not that's an effective strategy is a whole other issue), so don't feel pressured to always pick the first person who calls you. You can reverse-interview your headhunter to gauge the fit first! Any confident and successful headhunter will be happy to answer your questions. As a headhunter, I would spend as much time as I needed to to educate and explain the recruitment process to any candidate I was interested in. No question was off-limits!

2. Ask "What services will you provide to help me along the job search process?" which can also be phrased as: "Why should I choose YOU over other headhunters in the same market?" This question reveals how much your recruiter actually cares about their professional standards and reputation in the market. If they won't help you with anything other than submitting to a portal somewhere, are they really the best headhunter to represent you?

I loved when candidates asked me this, in fact, I RELISHED answering it! This was my chance to sell my services which left my competition in the dust, including free resume overhaul, detailed interview coaching, salary benchmarking, emotional support, executive summary creation, soft reference checking, and so much more.

Most importantly, they had ME on their side; My energy, care, sincerity, and direct communication style makes doing business easy. As a result, my clients and candidates fully trusted me to be as fair as possible within my limited capacity of being caught in the middle. I proved to my clients that I knew what I was doing through the high caliber and likability of my candidates. Similarly, my candidates received interview requests through me immediately or at least got an explanation of why interviews weren't happening.

TIP: If your headhunter can't sell themselves to you, then you can assume with a high degree of accuracy that they certainly can't sell you to a company adequately either! Unless you're working with a junior recruiter/underling, in which case, the "client-facing"/senior headhunter will be taking over at a certain point in the process to represent you to the client/company/role. You can determine your headhunter's level of influence/control by asking, "Who manages the client relationship?" or "Will you personally be negotiating for my offer or is someone else on your team doing that?"

3. Ask your headhunter, "What is your focus?" There's nothing worse than a generalist headhunter who covers 15 totally different jobs, and yours is just one of them. They won't be a specialist in your specific job role which translates into limited amount of other roles available for you to look into. You'll be doing all this work with one headhunter who can only submit you to one company/role. Instead, you could work with a specialized headhunter, who can represent you to all the jobs/companies hiring for your skill-set. 

It's like working with a real estate agent that covers all of New York State when all you want is an agent who's dedicated to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Clearly, one will have a significant competitive advantage over the other. 

TIP: Focus is more important than track record because track record is not a be-all, end-all. Of course, it's a great advantage if your headhunter has more experience/tenure within a certain space. However, headhunters are often switching companies and industry focuses. You may be working with a great recruiter who just happens to have switched to a new company/industry focus, in which case, again, you can give him/her a try if they pass your capability test on the rest of the factors.

Ultimately, you need to be able to answer this question to feel confident about your headhunter representing you: "If they aren't willing to be transparent with me, how can I trust them to negotiate on my behalf?"

Thanks for reading my article - Please post and share any questions/comments!

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