I’ve been on both sides of the “divide” trying to work with headhunters when looking for a job and now as a headhunter looking for people for a job. When I was looking for a job I was constantly frustrated by even the biggest firms in the industry (unfortunately they won’t be shamed here!) for their completely unprofessional behaviour and so when I started my own thing several years back I created a code of conduct for myself.
Based on that I want to share with you (the headhunted) what you should expect (and even demand) from your headhunter and when you should drop them like a hot (and bad) potato!
First and foremost, for any headhunters who are reading this – your product is the person you recommend not the company you are headhunting for. If you disrespect your product then your customer should not be buying your services at all, period!
Message to the headhunted – treat the headhunter with respect but remember they are not the one offering you the job, the company is, remind them of that if they forget this simple truth!
So what can I expect from the headhunter?
A headhunter is a facilitator, ensuring that you understand the company & the company understands you. During the recruitment process the headhunter is also trying to make a judgment on whether the two sides are a fit for each other on various parameters like capabilities, expectations, culture, attitude, etc. Amongst other things the headhunter will-
- Take time to understand you.
- Help in making your resume more relevant & presentable.
- Make sure each party respects the other & honours basic commitments.
- Ensure two-way communications.
- Make sure both sides get answers to their questions.
- Ensure that mutual strengths are highlighted.
- More importantly ensure that weaknesses are talked over and addressed.
- Act as an advisor to both sides before each interaction and help do an evaluation post one.
- Schedule meetings and following-up on actionable points, etc.
- Provide guidance on compensation & terms and help negotiate a fair compensation & terms at the time of the job offer.
- Inform the candidate of the outcome (positive or negative) & provide some degree of feedback for the future.
- Keep in touch with you till you’re joining date (for the best ones you are now a lifetime source of referrals and therefore they should keep in touch literally forever).
- A good headhunter will also keep in touch with a candidate who is not selected as they are now a “known” candidate for the future.
When to avoid a particular headhunter?
Unfortunately the industry is full of untrained, inexperienced, unscrupulous and pompous people who want to “process you and/or your resume”. Danger signals to watch out for –
- A general purpose email asking for some data to “process your resume”.
- No information on the company provided, only generic references.
- Email which seeks salary/compensation information without talking to you first on the role.
- Headhunters who make commitments (..I will call you/update you, etc) but fail to keep them repeatedly.
- A recruiter/headhunter who talks down to you or disrespects you.
- You get stuck with a person who is just a mail box!
- Your resume is sent to a company without your consent.
- When the headhunter starts to think they are offering you the job (you’ll see the signals!)
So the next time you are approached by a headhunter make sure that they are following their “job description” (Hint: send them a link to this article to remind them of what it is) otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment and heartburn!
Have any stories/anecdotes to share on being “headhunted”? Would love to hear them.