Before developing MoveMeOn we did some candidate research; posing some questions to candidates working in professional services about their experiences with headhunters. The candidate may not be the person who pays you, but firms held in high regard manage to develop strong and healthy relationships with “talent”. Whilst much of this will probably not come as a surprise to you, we thought you would be interested in hearing the general themes of the feedback.
(1) Don’t forget common courtesy!
“Appreciating that, at times, our job search is of vital importance to us and responding with suitable urgency.” Nicola, Asset Management.
Punctuality, sincerity and discretion were common gripes of unfortunate candidates who have had bad experiences.
(2) Remember to listen!
“Pushing positions that you have no interest in; they might even start pointing out downsides of your current job!” Alex, Boutique M&A advisory.
When we asked what candidates wanted from their headhunter, almost all described a “trusted advisor” that really “understood” them. Understanding your candidates is essential, and the best way to do so is regular contact and conversations about how career goals are changing. There were numerous adverse reactions to headhunters “managing my career expectations down” and sending “generic lists”. Their advice: “listen to me and understand what I want; it is often based on what I know others have achieved.”
(3) Do your homework!
“Mixing terminology and making weird statements about the vital importance of ‘delivering punchy IRR in the energy sector’ does not impress me.” Dan, Management Consultancy.
There were two sides to this: knowing the industry / client; and knowing the candidate. On first meeting, the latter should be achieved with a quick study of the CV!
(4) Don’t ask for too much!
“The immediate ‘oh you aren’t interested, do you know anyone who is?’ doesn’t inspire me to share contacts.” Paul, Management Consultancy.
If a headhunter hasn’t invested the time in the relationship, they shouldn’t ask for information and favours. Candidates were particularly dismissive of: asking for colleagues details or recommendations of colleagues; asking for CVs; and asking for salary details. However, all of them said they would happily divulge such information to their trusted consultants.
(5) Honesty is the best policy!
“Promising contacts in top firms yet not being able to deliver these roles.” Lisa, Investment Banking.
Highlighted by many as the worst sin: misleading statements. Whether it’s suggesting certain firms to candidates, or misjudging initial salary expectations, it’s important that everyone is on the same page when you leave the room.
(6) Don’t contact: at the wrong time; too often or through inappropriate media.
“After I qualified, one headhunter called me at work practically every day. Another even messaged me on facebook!” Ben, Accountancy
Appreciate that candidates are busy with their day jobs. Also the office is rarely a good place to have a conversation with a headhunter. If you’ve tried a few times but the candidate still hasn’t returned your call, they’re probably trying to tell you that they’re not interested.
Lots of candidates spoke about being “hassled” on social or professional networking sites. Plenty told us that they’d taken their profile off professional networks to “close the spam route to their office e-mail”.
I’m sure none of the above came as a surprise. The overwhelming message from our research: headhunters have a critical role to play in the careers of many professional services candidates.
There are plenty of excellent candidates who are looking for you to act as their Trusted Advisors; so go introduce yourselves!
Your MoveMeOn team