How to Get Yourself Poached by a Headhunter
It’s a great feeling to get that call or email from a headhunter who has contacted you about an opportunity — particularly when it’s a tailor-made opportunity designed to attract you. It’s extremely flattering and a ringing endorsement of your performance and career to date. Being on a headhunter’s radar can lead to a lifetime of almost effortless, continuous employment, punctuated by smooth career transitions.
While being headhunted may be an effortless way to move through your career, it somewhat ironically takes quite a lot of effort to lift yourself onto this particular gravy train in the first place — which is why most people never experience this situation. For this reason, I offer these four tips to get yourself on to a headhunter’s radar so that you, too, can have a charmed career of smooth, uninterrupted transitions.
1. Focus on Areas Where Demand Outstrips Supply
You are most likely to find headhunters in industries or professions where there is a shortage of talent because employers and recruiters in these spaces no longer expect to be able to easily find talent in the marketplace.
Do your research and focus your career on areas where demand outstrips supply. This includes careers and industries such as sales, engineering, accounting and finance, web development, and cyber security. These are the kind of professional areas in which you can expect to find headhunters operating in full force.
2. Perform Well
Nothing will damage your chances of being headhunted more than being a mediocre performer, so you’ll have to set your self apart from your peers. This means getting yourself into the upper quartile of performers in your business and having plenty of solid achievements to demonstrate your effectiveness. If you aren’t performing in at least the mid-upper quartile ranges, then you can’t realistically expect to be headhunted. Think about it: would you headhunt a mediocre performer?
3. Make Yourself Known
If you are lucky enough to work for a well-known brand, it’s likely you will already be visible to headhunters, so you would have a bit of a head start.
Because many headhunters use the LinkedIn database in their searches, all professionals wanting to be headhunted should have fully completed and up-to-date LinkedIn profiles at all times, for maximum visibility. Make sure your profile is loaded with relevant keywords. If your organization uses obscure internal job titles, make sure to list an industry standard version of your job title on LinkedIn page. This will massively increase your chance of being found by a searching recruiter.
Don’t waste time connecting with everyone who asks. Instead, spend your time connecting with industry-, profession-, and location-specific headhunters, employers, and hiring managers. Doing so will give you a clear industry footprint.
There are also several newer social media sites, like Poachable, that are specifically designed to facilitate poaching. Professionals can set up profiles on these sites and indicate the kinds of employers/roles they’d be interested in; they can also outline the conditions that would need to be met for them to consider a move.
4. Regularly Communicate Your Achievements to the Marketplace
Being visible on social media and at industry events is not enough. You need to do much more than blow hot air: you need to show that you are an effective individual by making sure your achievements are reflected in your public profiles.
For starters, make sure you have a bank of convincing SMART recommendations from influential and respected references on your LinkedIn profile. Studies show that candidates who are referred to a job are much more likely to be invited for interview, so this is crucial. Next, ensure that you go through your profile and succinctly summarize your top achievements in SMART format in each of your positions to show headhunters that you are a high performer.
It’s also important to include any job title changes/promotions in your public profiles, as these show that your career has been dynamic and mobile, and that you are probably open to opportunities. Keeping records of your title changes and promotions is also a good way to notify interested headhunters of positive events in your career, bringing you to the top of their minds as they search for qualified talent.