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Why you’re still not getting headhunted

It’s the time of year when you really ought to be getting calls from headhunters. If you’re not, and you want to, you may be doing something badly wrong. Following on from our previous article on how to get yourself headhunted, here’s what may be preventing headhunters from chasing you down.

(Equally, if you want to avoid being deluged with headhunter calls, the points listed below act as a guide on where to begin).

1) You’re not on anyone’s database

If you’re only a junior analyst or associate you’re unlikely to get headhunted in the first place – most recruiters at this level operate on a pure contingency basis. Some search work does take place for juniors, but the opacity of the market at this level means most recruitment firms will call on people already on their databases.

For example, companies like the Cornell Partnership run graduate recruitment programmes for financial services companies, as well as placing experienced analysts and associates. Anyone who applies for a graduate position through them gets added to their database, and may receive a call later in their career.

If you’re not on this kind of database, getting called is less likely.

2) None of your colleagues mentions your name

All headhunters say 80-90% of the people they place come to them through referrals, or talking to people in the market. If your colleagues don’t mention your name when headhunters call them up, you’re therefore simply not going to get approached.

“People will generally say, ‘There are one or two good people on our team, the rest are pretty bad,'” says one PE headhunter. “I then come away with the names of those good people.

“You need to be well networked within your firm, or you’re not going to get called,” he adds.

3) You moved into your current role from something completely different

Most headhunters focus on particular sectors or geographic regions. Although global search firms will track people as they move internationally, moving into the City from elsewhere means you may not be on the radar of London headhunters yet. Equally, if you’ve moved from the sellside to the buyside (or vice versa), you may need to raise your profile among headhunters specialising in your area.

4) Your details aren’t up to date on Bloomberg or the FSA

As well as chatting to colleagues, headhunters spend their time trawling social networking sites, Bloomberg and the FSA. If your details on any of these aren’t up to date, they’re less likely to sniff you out.

Even better, every time you move, try and ensure a press release is sent out announcing your arrival – or that your new position somehow leaks to the press.

5) You’re hard to get hold of

Some headhunters are perseverant, but many like low hanging fruit. If you rarely answer your phone and never give out your mobile number, your more obtainable colleagues may get all the calls.

6) You’re out of the market

Unless you’re a big name who left on good terms, it’s highly unlikely that headhunters will call you while you’re at home tending the garden. This is partly because banks will usually prefer to hire you directly, but it’s also because it can be hard to establish the calibre of people who are no longer working.

“It’s really difficult to get credible information about people who are out of the market,” says one headhunter. “A lot of people in banking tend to be very generous to former colleagues who haven’t got a job, and will give you their names and recommend them. However, it’s hard to know whether they’re just doing it out of sympathy.”

7) You’re not very good

All the headhunters we spoke to emphasised that if someone is good, they will unearth them. “Good people are always headhunter,” said one. “They will always be found.”

Comments (10)

  1. if you put up a profile on social networking sites..you will get “Headhunted”..nowadays it is the number 1 place for recruiters to look..they are not stupid (!) if you start to become active they will take it that you are open to a chat..and its free for them !!

    stillprefertheoldrollerdexmeself Reply
  2. On the other hand good and objective research still works wonders when done by competent and professional researchers!

    stillprefertheold researchrouteespeciallyif sheisaredhead Reply
  3. Which sites are good?

  4. referrals referrals referrals…finance world is only a referral thing…no one is interested to test the skills of a candidate

    i remember Madoff … he was really well connected and everybody was ready to refer him as one of the best money manager…..what happened after?…ups!

  5. @stillprefertheoldrollerdexmeself: How can you say that social networking site is good idea ?

  6. what a load of rubbish.. Dont know which field u guys are on.. I have got plenty of offers by cold-calling or emailing senior managers at funds and banks.. If u have a good CV, solid education, ppl will be interested in speaking to you,. And make sure when u do get a chance to speak to anyone, you actually show your skills and not sound like a buffon. All these headhunters are a waste of space… Besides most firms are more willing to “buy into” the under appreciated talent out on the street than pay over the top for some hotshot who fades out in 6 months..

  7. Hate recruitment consultants never use them. They seem to post jobs that dont exist. I’m sure there are good ones out there though.

  8. These so called head-hunters are not interested in us, they only see us as a potential money making source. That’s why we are being treated in this way by the head-hunters!

    Majority of head-hunters do not have more than two neurons between them to understand that most people who have been in their career for a long period of time must be capable people. They are out of a job through no fault of their own except that these so called good employers used them for as long they wanted to use them and disposed of them soon after.
    I am sorry to say that the story is the same in any industry not just in the banking sector.

  9. I completely agree with abbas. I’ve been headheaded but once you email them / speak to them a couple of times for a particular role, they don’t bother calling you back as its been filled but no-one lets you know – out for themselves – although I’m finding this with job agents at the moment too!

  10. Many of these comments ring true and can give headhunters (or executive search/sourcing as some of us prefer to be referred to) an unfavourable rep. They should have – the good ones will have – a more sophisticated, discrete and high added value (to you the individual as well as the client) approach than recruitment agencies – they’re working with less people and high profile roles. If you’re not getting value out of the relationship then you haven’t got the right headhunter (or rather they haven’t found you yet!) Adding value to the individual is equally important as the client who they are sourcing for as well value within their industry network/contacts – in my opinion though not applied universally in the industry. Increasingly using social networking sites, linkedin is better than facebook, I agree – referrals and networking are hugely valuable, still the most valuable. (NB currently sourcing experienced financial advisors for one of SA’s top 5, guaranteed increase).

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