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How to get a head hunter to notice you

By Winnie Makena | April 14th 2021

Finding a job is a job; one that requires you to devise a plan of action and carry it out. And if someone calls you up for a job, then great; they have saved you the hustle of jumping the hoops of getting your CV noticed among a sea of applicants. However, with the job market being increasingly competitive, you must have a full understanding of what the recruiters are looking for. It is no longer just about experience and qualifications, a job seeker needs to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Silvia Njambi, who has been a head hunter for five years is also a training and development manager at Corporate Staffing Services (CSS), a HR firm whose core business is recruitment, payroll services, HR outsourcing and training. What does it get to capture a head hunter’s attention? She has the answers.

Where do head hunters roam for talent?

When jobs are advertised, it is not always that the best candidate is found. Head hunting is often a last resort. We come in to recruit on behalf of companies when they have not found what they are looking for.

LinkedIn is our main source. We check for specific skills and talents that our client is looking for.

Networks. In my case, being in a HR firm, we have a lot of interactions with other companies. We attend several events and have a rich network. Sometimes in our daily work, we speak to heads of departments and business owners, essentially decision-makers, and through conversations, we find the right fit. Occasionally people in our networks recommend other people from even their previous jobs.

Most times head hunting comes after failing to get the right talent during the advertising stage. We then reach out to some of the promising candidates we have met before through our interviews, especially for senior positions. Even though they did not get the position they were interviewing for and maybe working elsewhere, we have them marked for when a more suitable position emerges.   

How to use LinkedIn to your advantage

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LinkedIn is interesting because it has become more social like Facebook. It is now a very good place to market yourself and your skills.

Create a brand around you. One way to put yourself out there is branding, starting from the profile picture which portrays who you are. For everything you post, remember that you are a personal brand. When you are putting yourself out there, have in mind that an employer should look at your profile and think ‘I want to engage this person’. The photo should be professional.

Your skills should really stand out. You have technical skills and soft skills but there is always that thing that makes you stand out. Whatever that is should shine through your profile. If you are a finance manager and very good at leading teams, make sure that comes out at glance. That is your brand and that is what sells you.

Present your previous roles clearly. Where did you work and for how many years? It should be brief and precise while still catching the eye of the head hunter.

Determine what is important to put out to the world. To determine what is relevant and what is not, ask yourself if it is worth mentioning. If you do not think it is relevant to your profession, then ignore it. If you have done courses and certifications that tie in to your profession, then mention them even in your introduction e.g. ‘A Certified accountant with XX years in the industry’

Do not reach out to head hunters asking them to put you on the market. The best thing you can do is upload your CV in the database and you will be found when head hunters look for certain talent.

Tips for an effective resume

Did you ever think that you could be losing out on opportunities because of the way you package yourself to the market?

Always have an up-to-date CV ready. You should always be prepared. When a head hunter calls you, you must be ready to send your CV immediately. That is not the time to think about starting to draft your resume.

Make sure your work qualifications and work skills are clear to anyone at a glance. Avoid congesting it with things you have googled about that company or the job description. Instead, personalize your CV so that it becomes a story worth reading.

A head hunter should read your CV and in a minute know they want to hire you. Draw a clear line on what you do, what you are looking for and what your personal brand is.  Do not lose out on a position because your CV is badly done or you did not put in work to make it as impressive as possible.

How to impress in an interview

Your resume and your LinkedIn profile are the most important things to attract a head hunter. And when a headhunter invites you to an interview, then you have only gone half the distance. Some people, even having done quite impressive work in their career, unfortunately, fail to articulate themselves properly.

You have to convince the interviewers of your suitability for the role. Interviews are all about persuasive communication. If you cannot persuade them, you cannot get the job. So know the skills they are looking for and sell yourself for the job.

Almost all of the interview questions come from the job description they gave you, so prepare adequately before the meeting.

After the interview, you can follow up but do not be annoying by pestering them with phone calls. Give the interviewers time to review applications, reflect on the interviews and make a decision. Avoid calling and instead write a follow-up email.

Dos and don’ts for your meeting with a head-hunter

1.      Do have the answers to common interview questions at heart.

2.      Do pause when necessary. Pausing can stop panic in its tracks and communicates confidence and that you are comfortable with taking the time to think before responding. It also helps filter out of your vocabulary filler words, such as “Eh…. Um…. Like”. Remember, a pause in the conversation will be a lot less in real life than it sounds in your head.

3.      Do occupy space. Before going into an interview, make yourself as physically large as possible in the famous ‘Superman pose’. A Ted Talk titled ‘Your body language may shape who you are’ by Amy Cuddy has almost 20 million views and explains in detail how good posture makes you appear more confident by making you more confident.

4.      Do be present and listen. Taking the time to listen intently keeps you focused, calm and in the present, enabling you to think more clearly and to express yourself more effectively. You're interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you and you have to understand what they are asking to answer.


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