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Here’s how you must help your headhunter find you a new job

This man was not nice to his headhunter

This man was not nice to his headhunter

If you’re in need of a new job and your needs are not being met, it may have something to do with the state of the job market. London financial services recruiters insist things are finally looking up. However, this may simply be because they are averting their eyes from the redundancies still going on below.

In these circumstances, you need to work with your headhunter to find new employment. Gone are the days when one could ping off a CV and wait for the magic. Nowadays, it’s a joint effort.

We asked several financial services headhunters/recruiters what they wished candidates would do to help. This is what they said.

1. Be loyal

Headhunters are like love-interests: they don’t like to be cuckolded.

“There’s a lot to be said for loyalty in this game,” says one. “If I talk to a candidate about a role and then I hear that he or she has gone through someone else, I’ll be mightily peed off.”

“I wouldn’t want to work with someone who’d spoken to three headhunters,” says another. “One is fine. Two is the maximum. Three is too many. If you have three or four people sending your CV to the same place, it can look (mightily) unprofessional.”

2. Harvest some positive affirmations from clients

If you want to be placed, it will help if you can point to a large number of clients who rate you. This is particularly so if you work in sales.

“Be clear who your top ten clients are,” says Oliver Rolfe at Spartan Partnership. “Try to get at least five very strong references. It will be a huge advantage if you can.”

3. Be mightily clear about your proposition

Rolfe says he recently placed an equity salesperson who had a business plan for the next three years and a clear idea of the revenues he would be able to generate. “You need to prepare a plan as if you are a business,” he says.

“You need to be very clear about what you have achieved in the past, about your production, your compensation, where you fitted into the team, and what you want to do next,” confirms Simon Head at search firm Correlate.

“Some people can be very vague both about their past performance and their aspirations,” Head adds. “For example, you might get an FX sales person who says he’s covered French corporates in the past but that he’d be open to covering Spanish or German corporates in future. That’s too broad – it’s better to be very clear about your core competencies and intentions.”

3. Lose your inhibitions

Don’t be shy. Many candidates are. Or: inhibited.

“The better we understand a candidate’s position, the better we are able to present them to our clients,” says Christian Robbins at Nicholas Scott Executive Search. “Some candidates need to get over their inhibitions,” says Robbins. “They can be unwilling to talk about their place in the team, about the people around them, who they report to. The more they allow a headhunter to understand themselves and their business, the better we can represent them.”

4.  Remember that headhunters and recruiters want to feel the love

Most of all, remember that headhunters and recruiters want you to be nice to them. If you are, they will be nice to you.

“Sometimes, when someone has been made redundant, they will try playing Billy-Big-Time to boost their ego,” says one search consultant. “The best people are generally the most accommodating and friendly,” he reflects.

Comments (3)

  1. Do people agree with the idea of limiting the number of headhunters you deal with? I suppose it makes sense if the headhunters are going to try to place you. But if you work with retained headhunters, you have to contact a lot of them to see who is working on an assignment that you would fit. If you only called one or two, then you would never bring yourself to the attention of headhunters who are looking for someone just like you.

  2. Also, there seems to me to be a difference between being “specific” about your core competencies and being “limited.” It may well be that you’ve covered French corporates and that is your core competency,but if you happen to speak Spanish and there’s a firm that has an opening for someone to cover Spanish corporates, why not go for it? Your core competence is actually selling. There may be a learning curve in getting to know the Spanish corporates, but you’ll move up it quickly enough, and you may actually be able to teach the Spanish clients some things they hadn’t known about. In my case, I used to do bonds but when I lost my job, I quickly found another job in FX. The recruiter was able to see the possibility using my core competence in another part of the business that I hadn’t worked with directly and put me forward successfully. If he had said “oh, this fellow’s a bond guy, no point putting him forward for an FX job” then I’d probably be at Starbucks today. People in the financial world think too much in terms of narrow functional silos. A little cross-fertilization between specialities is good — you can bring a new perspective to the work.

  3. Loyalty is a reciprocal value in these markets. The job market is a supply & demand market which perhaps should be treated similarly to the financial markets themselves, where trust & confidence is key if you wish to secure longstanding relationships, indeed spanning a complete professional career.
    Looking for appropriate candidates or indeed for a rather specific & illiquid bond issue is painstaking and can prove tiresome for both employers and jobseekers : if everyone in the market knows who’s looking & what they’re after – ie. generally counterproductive.
    Personally, I believe it is advisable : a) to entrust offers/searches with a limited number of discerning head-hunters, whether you are offering a post or seeking one ; b) to slant one’s CV/résumé so as to be pretty specific about your fields of competence in keeping with the post offered, whilst certainly not limiting or being restrictive on your potential ‘neighbouring’ strengths.

    Loiteringwithintent Reply

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