“Help… I’ve been headhunted!”

If you have any reasonable sort of profile in your industry, it will happen that you receive a call one day either from a search consultant on behalf of their client or from an executive of a company directly. So what should you do? Follow these steps…

1. Don’t be a sceptic

It should be an encouraging sign that you are being approached. If the person calling you is running a thorough and robust process on behalf of a client, they aren’t simply trying to get you to agree to leave your current job. They are trying to get a better understanding of your career and what your motivations are.

2. Don’t panic

Tell the person you would prefer to have the conversation outside of hours if you cannot speak. Consultants who make these approach calls are well versed in individuals not being able to speak. The person calling you would much rather call back or send you a discreet email then have a panic response saying “I’m fine thanks” before hearing the dial tone.

3. Don’t stick your head in the sand

“I’m not looking for another job”, “I’m not interested”, “I’m really happy with my current employer”. That’s usually a given. We all expect that is the case. Open your mind, listen to what the person has to say, it only takes a minute to work out if they are credible or not.

4. Do ask questions

This is the most appropriate way to find out if the person calling you has done their homework or is randomly calling as many people as possible in the vague hope of a ‘result’. If their firm has been engaged properly, the client they represent isn’t looking for the first person who says “hey, thanks for calling, I am looking for a new job as it happens”.

5. Do build a relationship

Putting the phone down, being abrupt, or ignoring follow up calls is no way to build a relationship with a person who may well be able to help you find that one rare opportunity in your market. How you conduct yourself will definitely have a bearing on whether the firm thinks it worthwhile calling you again, even if a client does likes the sound of your profile. If you are difficult to deal with don’t expect them to be rushing to call you in the future.

6. Do be reliable

If you have asked the person to call you back after hours, make sure you take the call. If you arrange to meet them for an exploratory chat, don’t cancel at short notice with no genuine explanation. Your conduct goes a long way to building your reputation.

Do any fellow recruiters have any more do’s and don’ts to add to this list?