Published by: Bizcommunity - 2008
The art of being headhunted
Professionals should be cognisant of the fact that their careers are being tracked by headhunters who are constantly on the lookout for the best talent. So says Madge Gibson, partner at executive search firm Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters.
Headhunters and their research teams follow the career progress of individuals who are particularly successful in their field. With this knowledge, good headhunters are able to identify and approach candidates that are best-suited to a particular position, whether or not they are openly on the job market.
"Candidates, however, should be mindful of unsolicited approaches and ask the right questions when faced with the reality of being headhunted"says Gibson, who offers some basic advice on steps to take when being headhunted.
Only deal with a reputable headhunter that has an excellent track record and that operates primarily in your industry or a closely related industry. Research the headhunting company to establish whether its credentials are up to scratch. Google them - the company and the headhunter, and check out its website.
Ask the headhunter whether he or she are operating under an exclusive mandate agreement with the client (the hiring organisation). It is far more beneficial to engage in discussions with a headhunter who has been given an exclusive mandate as it is more likely to lead to a positive outcome for the candidate.
Through discussions, decide whether the position you have been approached for would be a positive, strategic career opportunity or not. It's flattering to be headhunted, yet not every opportunity will suit your medium to long term career goals. It's crucial to gather as much information as possible from the headhunter regarding the position, the organisation and its future prospects in order to make a balanced decision.
Don't prematurely close the door on the opportunity. Even if you have not considered putting your CV on the job market, do yourself the favour of engaging in exploratory discussions with the headhunter - sometimes the most exciting opportunities come out of the blue.
Engaging in negotiations, purely to leverage a potential counter offer or salary increase from your current employer, is not recommended. Candidates who take this approach burn bridges with the hiring organisation and the headhunter (never a good thing), not to mention tarnishing the trust and relationship with their existing employers who may well feel that they have been manipulated by strong-arm tactics into premature salary increase.
Take the time to engage thoroughly and professionally with the headhunter. Headhunters are responsible for enhancing many a career, plus their knowledge and opinions are valued by their clients. The manner in which you present yourself will leave a lasting impression, good or bad.