Good Tips Networking Executive Search Firms UK

Successful dealings with executive headhunters essentially rely on two main elements, namely effective preparation and building strong (credible) relationships. Preparation relies on putting the foundations in place for success, standing out from the competition and working on personal branding elements to market (present) credentials effectively. Without effective preparation, candidates may undersell themselves or not sound convincing enough when being considered against potential opportunities. It is those very fine margins that can make the difference.

Effective Preparation for Headhunters

  • Marketable CV (what the recruiter relies on most to push candidates forward)
  • Refining CV to make an impression and creating a high quality marketing document
  • LinkedIn / Online Presence (making an impression; linking with other executives)
  • Clear Career Vision (knowing future career direction and aspirations; clear goals)
  • Strong Personal Branding (create an aura of professionalism; emotional intelligence)
  • Exemplary Standards to make an impression (stand out from the crowd; excellence)

Having an effective marketing document (CV):  Without an outstanding CV, headhunters may decide not to put forward candidates until they have made some adjustments, given the headhunter relies on this as the primary marketing tool to push candidates towards opportunities.

Refining CV Elements:  The resume must be well-presented, up-to-date and clearly show leadership credentials, track record of achievements (including exceptional achievements), clear examples, longstanding experience, core skills, industry expertise, education, training and professional development. These areas add value and must be aligned to key drivers and core competencies to underpin target roles and give a good ‘strategic fit’ for opportunities.

LinkedIn Presence:  LinkedIn is a favourite tool for headhunters as they can seek out potential candidates and make initial contact regarding opportunities. It goes without saying that executives need to have an impressive online presence and be linking to likeminded people at a similar level.

Career Vision: Knowing what you want, long-term aspirations and having compelling motivations are important, so refine these as part of a wider career plan. Be prepared to confidently answer questions on this and stand out from others. It is surprising how many candidates do not pay attention to these elements and so give weak answers, which does not create a good impression.

Personal Branding: This is how people interact with others, present themselves and make an impression. Ensure positive behaviours (mannerisms), clear communication, energy / enthusiasm and controlled body language to give an aura of professionalism. This is often referred to as emotional intelligence.

Exemplary Standards: Recruiting top-talent for executive leadership positions requires very high expectations and going the extra mile to stand out from the competition. Offer something unique, get across exceptional achievements and ‘raise the bar’ in relation to other candidates.

Preparing to Meet Executive Headhunters: Conclusion

Research, preparation and refining ways of marketing oneself helps ‘raise the bar’ in relation to other candidates. Fine margins separate candidates, so pay great attention on personal branding elements and finding ways to differentiate from the competition. Preparation also helps in pressured situations, especially when having to convince headhunters that they have the right person to put forward for opportunities. Weak preparation often shows, so it can mean elimination from the process and undermine any potential relationship going forward.

Successful job hunting strategies often rely on engaging with executive headhunters and benefiting from well-established headhunter networks, employer contacts and industry knowledge. It is an expectation that executives will come into contact with headhunters at some point during the recruitment process. We have often found that executives do not appreciate the importance of headhunters, how best to engage with them or find best ways to manage relationships. Overall, executive headhunters are a valuable resource and can add considerable value to any executive job search, providing there is a clear approach towards engaging with headhunting firms.

Preparing to Engage Executive Headhunters

CV (Marketing Document): Merely updating a CV is not sufficient. Developing a clear strategy, getting it professionally re-written, standing out from the competition and making an impression are often key elements. Headhunters use the CV to gain a candidate overview, an idea of where best to place candidates relative to opportunities and present a good match when using employer contacts. Furthermore, the headhunter must have faith in a credible marketing document to push for securing interview opportunities. A poorly executed CV will not grab the desired attention from executive headhunters and associated employer networks. Think carefully about whether the resume will stand up to scrutiny and highlight achievements throughout.

LinkedIn Networks: Ensure an effective online presence which is optimised for targeted search results using LinkedIn. Optimising the LinkedIn profiles gives an opportunity for headhunders to proactively search candidates and make contact. Poorly executed LinkedIn profiles will not be found or make the right kind of impression executive headhunters expect. Headhunters will look at who candidates are linked to as much as the content provided on the profile. Building extensive contacts and networks increases chances of being found by headhunters searching online.

Clear Vision: Being very clear about career motivations, aspirations and long-term direction helps with answering questions posed by executive headhunters. Having a clear sense of direction, strong impetus and knowing what you are all about makes candidates more credible, confident and convincing when engaging with headhunters. This demonstrates confidence, assuredness and clear thinking that headhunters look for (any uncertainties or weak answers can put off headhunters).

Personal Branding: Controlling interactions with others, demonstrating professionalism and engaging well with others (i.e. communication skills) helps to gain commitment from headhunters as this shows good personal skills to increase chances of success at executive interviews. This includes developing an ‘elevator pitch’ outlining core credentials and knowing what you want to achieve.

Impeccable Standards: Everything must be spot on in terms of the CV (critical marketing document), LinkedIn, personal branding, career vision and the ability to confidently answer questions about oneself. Everything must come together at this point in terms of preparation as the bases for establishing headhunter contact and ‘getting through the door’.

Engaging with Executive Headhunters: Conclusion

The idea of this article was to give useful advice on preparing in advance for headhunter engagements as the basis for establishing (building) worthwhile relationships. Executive headhunters have high expectations and very limited time, so a lack of preparation and foresight can lead to individuals falling short or being rejected. Solid planning and preparation can therefore make a big difference for making headhunter engagements, give important credibility and help grab their attention. Be assertive, realistic about expectations and engaging at all times. See an external article covering wider executive job search and personal branding strategies.

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  3. Interim Executive Appointments or Interim Management Opportunities
  4. Understanding the Changing Nature of Executive Headhunter Firms
  5. Preparation Tips for Meeting Executive Headhunter Contacts
  6. Tips for Building Stronger Relationships with Headhunting Firms

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