When you’re an executive candidate looking for a job, it’s highly probable you’ll be dealing with a headhunter some part of the way (most probably almost all the way). You might also be dealing with a headhunter when you’re not even actively looking for a job and get approached for the quality of your profile. Either way, you’ll be working together and why not try to make the best use of your headhunter? He may not be hired by you but you can make him work in your favor as much as you can. What do you need to pay attention to?
How your headhunter works
Executive recruiting is a delicate field that involves quite high stakes from all sides. Executive positions are much more about the personal fit than the industry expertise, more about leadership than lab experience. That means that the headhunter that’s brought in most likely deals with a range of expectations. And he most probably will need to present more than one candidate.
But even though you are most likely not paying for your headhunter you can still make sure it’s working for you as well. Just like a job offer the headhunter has to fit you. Be sure that he really listens and seems to have a genuine interest in you and what you do. Only if you have the feeling that the headhunter gets you, you’ll get closer to the dream job you’re after. Once you think your headhunter knows what he’s doing and what he can do for you, trust him to guide you through the process.
What the headhunter is really looking for
Just as well the headhunter needs to feel that he’s getting honest and reliable feedback from you. There is nothing worse for a headhunter than a candidate that backs out last minute or wastes his time some other way. Think about that the headhunter can be a resource for you that goes further than that one search he’s doing. You might be just right for the next search he’ll be getting. But as long as you’re in the race, make sure to present to your headhunter all your selling arguments, equip him with all the numbers (e.g. how much money did you save your last company?) and listen to his suggestions. He knows exactly what the customer wants and how to spin your profile just the right way. Help him help you.
How to get where you want
Provide information, be honest and be specific. What are you really looking for? How specifically do you match the profile? Why do you fit the hiring company? What compensation do you want and what forms of compensation are you open to? So don’t make the mistake and be vague only to find out later on in (or worse: at the end of) the process that the job profile doesn’t work for you. If you want to get where you want, you need to know where that is and your headhunter needs to know that too.
Priceless advice: give it time. The headhunter most likely works with a number of stakeholders in the company that are involved in such a delicate process like an executive search. Assembling them to provide feedback can require quite the organizational skills – and time. If you don’t get feedback for a bit, it’s most likely because the headhunter hasn’t gotten any himself. Of course you can follow up here and there and you should also get an answer but you should be aware that executive search projects can take quite some time. Be prepared for that. And if you’re in the hands of a good headhunter you’ll know that you can trust their process.