8 things you must do if you want to be headhunted for a job

Applying for a job is the usual method of gaining employment, but there is one other that most people fail to recognise. Getting headhunted by an employer is actually a lot more common than you’d think, and your career can take a huge leap forward if you know how to become more visible.

If an employer contacts you directly and asks to see you about an opening, you already have one foot in the door. The roles have been reversed, and although you need to ask lots of questions, the employer is clearly already picturing you working for their company.

Here are the 8 things you must do if you want to be headhunted for a job.

1. Attend seminars and conferences

A great way to get recognised is to attend seminars, meetings and conferences. The only way an employer can find out about you is if you make some contacts and stay on top of the game. Your knowledge of the industry needs to remain high at all times – as well as your contacts.

Search online and check on social media for any conventions near you. If you have the time, make the effort to travel – even if it’s quite far away. You will usually find that you’ll start to bump into the same people and start to get recognised. You could even consider creating a video or written blog and post this on your own website – www.johnsmithmarketing.com. Share this with the professional community and build up a portfolio for self promotion.

2. Give out your details

When attending conferences you need to be prepared to hand out your details. Create a business card and keep it tidy and professional. Ensure you include your full name and professional title, along with your mobile number and email. You should also include your own website URL if you have one. This would be necessary if you have an online portfolio as you can share your abilities. Triple check it to make sure there are no spelling mistakes – this would look unprofessional and devalue your entire credibility and potentially damage your reputation.

Make as many connections as possible and constantly introduce yourself. Start friendly conversation with lot of like minded people and build up a rapport before you give out your card. If you don’t, the business card will almost always end up in the bin. You have to give a story behind your details and make them want to find out more.

Become memorable for all the right reasons and leave a positive impression. It’s the only way you stand a chance of being headhunted.

“When you receive calls from one head-hunter about a role, if you’re not interested, try to provide another person’s name. That way you’ll have made a future ally of someone professionally useful in the long term.” ~ The Undercover Recruiter

3. Career immersion

If you want to leave yourself as open as possible to be headhunted you need to fully immerse yourself in your career. It isn’t enough to simply work really hard and slowly climb up the ranks. The only people that will appreciate your dedication are the company you’re working for.

To create more opportunities you have to get your name out there and live, eat, sleep and breathe your chosen profession. It needs to be something you are passionate and dedicated about, and isn’t just a job that you stop thinking about the second you clock out. This doesn’t mean to say it should completely engulf your life and affect your personal leisure time. But it does mean you shouldn’t ignore emails outside of work – as an example. Find the right work-life balance, but stay dedicated to your craft in an outside of work hours.

4. Stay in employment

You need to always try and stay in employment; otherwise it can make it harder for the employer to consider you. It could cast some doubt in their mind as to whether or not you are a worthy candidate. If you were that good at your career then wouldn’t you always be working? Wouldn’t you be in high demand?

The problem with this bit of advice is of course that it isn’t always in your control. Redundancy can come knocking at any time, or for personal reasons you may not be able to work for a long period of time. However, if you are unhappy in your current position then it’s important to remember that you should try and stay until you find something else – or you’re headhunted. It looks much better to a prospective employer.

5. Focus your career

You entire career right from the start needs to be focused on a particular industry or role. If you have a varied history hopping around from one job to the next, it will not be very desirable for a headhunter. They are only looking for exceptional individuals who have a focused career path.

Remember, when an employer considers contacting someone directly they are looking for the very best. There is no point in contacting someone who could have a few career flaws when they could very easily put out a job advert and be inundated with exceptional candidates. So if you’re a little undecided about what you want to do, then get thinking right now and start the journey. Your CV will thank you for it.

6. LinkedIn and social media

Social media is a fantastic way to connect with other like minded professionals and to advertise your own credentials. LinkedIn is currently the best platform to do that, and is completely customised towards providing the tools to connect, share, headhunt, and much more.

One of the first places an employer looks is LinkedIn as it will offer a lot of information. A users profile can act as a digital CV and is an advertisement in itself. This is why it’s so important to keep up to date on LinkedIn and create a comprehensive profile. There is no point being on there if you don’t do that. A bare profile will actually go against you and renders it completely irrelevant.

Another thing you must do is constantly share and connect with other professionals – you can also use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too. Creating a profile online isn’t just about leaving it alone in the hope that someone may spot you. It’s important to interact as often as possible, not only to keep your name in the mix but to also keep up to date. If you are contacted for an interview then you need to be on the ball and be ready to answer questions about the industry.

“In addition to getting your social media platforms in great shape, you’ll want to design a LinkedIn profile with keywords that’s attention-grabbing while maximizing your experiences and accomplishments.” ~ The Muse in Forbes

Find out more about building a LinkedIn profile to complement your CV here.

7. Always say yes

If you are contacted by an employer but you are not really interested in what they have to offer, it’s still a good idea to meet with them. You should never pass up on the opportunity to connect with important people from the industry and continue to build upon your reputation. Another opportunity may arise in the future because you are constantly meeting with these like minded professionals.

You should always be open to meeting people even though you suspect it isn’t of interest to you. After all, you may discover that it is something you want to do when you find out all the facts. When you get to know all about the company and the role on offer, the employer may just be able to twist your arm and reel you in. It’s much better to find out all about the opportunity rather than to pass it up. You can’t get the complete picture until you actually meet up with them.

The worst thing that can happen is you just say no, but it may not end there. Now that the employer has met you they may keep your details on record and contact you for something else in the future. Or, they may even pass your details on to someone else that wants to headhunt you. Again it’s all about making as many connections as possible – so remain polite, friendly and professional at all times. Always thank every single person who contacts you for the opportunity.

8. Ask lots of questions

If you are contacted and invited to a meeting or interview, always ask lots of questions. Remember, they made the first move so you may not know enough information to make the correct decision – especially if the meeting is in the next day or so. Do your research before you go so you are well equipped, but also prepare a list of questions.

Depending on how the meeting goes you may be able to ask about:

  • The tasks and responsibilities
  • Who you will be working with
  • The location
  • The hours
  • What the company does – also impress them with your current knowledge
  • Chance of promotion – career progression
  • Salary + benefits

The questions you ask in this format can be more direct and open when compared with a normal ‘you applied to them’ interview. Overall you will probably find the initial meeting very informal. The employer doesn’t usually rush into a proper interview and will often just ask to meet up for coffee. So be careful with the questions you ask as you don’t want to be too aggressive. You should also take a CV with you and a portfolio (if applicable), and dress smart but casual.

Feel your way through the meeting and hold back on anything you know can wait for a second interaction. If the employer offers you a job right there and then or shortly after, then you still have the opportunity to clarify a few things, like salary. Leading with these questions however can get the employer on the back foot and send off the wrong signals. So the timing of your questions is the key to success. Remember, although they have hunted you down you still need to be professional at all times.

Further reading

Stuck in a dead end job or career? Here’s what to do

How to change careers in 6 steps

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