What to Do When the Headhunter Calls

If a headhunter calls you unexpectedly one day, take this opportunity to learn not only about the new position on offer, but also to get an objective evaluation from the human resources market in your professional sphere — to find out about your opportunities and to understand how much you are actually worth.

First of all, the consultant should introduce himself and tell you the name of the company he represents. “Is it convenient for you to talk right now?” is the first question that a professional consultant will ask. If you really cannot talk, then ask the consultant to call you back at a time that is more convenient for you. A good consultant won’t insist on continuing the conversation at that moment.

After the initial greetings, the consultant should give you some information about the vacant position. In the case of a classified search, the headhunter will not give the name of the business customer, but will always describe the company’s profile. While talking about the position, the consultant should ask you to what extent you are interested. You, in turn, should ask any questions you have about the position.

Even if this particular position doesn’t interest you, don’t turn down a future discussion, as you might be able to talk about future opportunities.

Try to answer any questions that pertain to your professional experience and career expectations as detailed and thoroughly as possible, as the consultant is personally interested in offering you a position that corresponds with what you want.

If your professional qualities and expectations correspond to the demands of the client, then the headhunter will invite you to an interview. Before the interview, research detailed information about the company which is calling you to make sure that it is actually an agency with a good reputation.

There are cases in which the call offering a new place of work is initiated by your boss in order to check your loyalty. Try in the first few minutes of the conversation to make sure that you are indeed talking with a headhunter.

The interview, as a rule, will take place with a consultant in the agency’s office. Certain unwritten rules exist that must be observed. Try not to be late to the interview, and wear appropriate business attire. Definitely take your resume as evidence of your professional achievements.

In the course of the interview, clearly and concisely talk about your achievements, professional expectations and personal preferences.

Act confident and speak calmly, as this will assure the consultant of your professionalism and competence. Remember that all information should be authentic and that it doesn’t make sense to exaggerate your merits; during the course of future conversations, the true state of things will expose itself, anyway. Needless modesty is also uncalled for because it could be interpreted as insecurity.

Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions: be more precise about the name of the company, its field of business, the demands of the position, compensation and bonuses.

At the first interview, the consultant will already decide whether you are suitable for the position or not, and he might tell you immediately at the interview or a short time later by telephone. This is also one sign of the headhunter’s professionalism, that he doesn’t cause the candidate inconveniences associated with the expectations of the decision.

If the interview with the headhunter is successful, it is time for a meeting with a representative from the corporate client. But an invitation to a second interview does not guarantee that you have got the job. Don’t make any hasty decisions and quickly resign from your previous place of employment because the whole process of job placement can take a few months.

Often, an HR director conducts the initial talks with the candidate. If this is the case, don’t ask overspecialized questions regarding the vacancy. Concentrate on general questions, as this is a good chance for you to find out more about the structure of the company, career growth prospects, peculiarities about the corporate culture, and internal traditions and rules. Find out why the position became vacant. The more informed you are about the company, the less unpleasant surprises there will be when you join the company.

It is better to discuss the characteristics of the professional duties of your new position and management’s expectations of its new employee directly at the interview with the owner or with the general director of the company. In a case where you are being offered a top position, prepare yourself for a long series of discussions with the company’s representatives. You should expect several stages of interviews with management, a series of tests, challenges and approval. At these meetings, you need to be business- like and concentrated, as management might test your adequacy of reaction, logic, speed of reasoning, and tolerance to stress.

If, after this kind of interview, you still have some questions or are confused by the nuances of the job, discuss these first and foremost with the headhunter. He is a professional middleman between you and the client, in that he is presenting your interests to your future employer and will try to find a compromise for both sides. But don’t forget that the consultant represents your interests in the period of job placement and adaptation only, and he will not interfere with the manager/employer in terms of his competence.

If you have made it to the final phase of interviews, but were refused, find out why and keep good relations with the mighthave- been management and company. If you are remembered as a good specialist, you will be considered in the future as a potential candidate for a position in the company.

It is very important, having accepted the final job offer, to devote special attention to keeping good relations with your former management and colleagues. When discussing your departure, talk about the advantages of your new job and your prospects, but don’t talk about the shortcomings of your old job and of accumulated grievances. It is possible that you will get a counterproposal from your company — but before accepting the counteroffer, weigh up the pluses and minuses one more time. It is not a good idea to use the headhunter’s offer as a way of putting pressure on your current boss. Sometimes you risk losing your old job, while still not having found a new one.

Also of great importance is to commendably finish off your last workweek. If time allows, you could offer some time to work with your successor and bring him in the know. By doing this, you will be showing that you are not indifferent to the fate of your old company. It can only be of good service to you if the management of your new company seeks a recommendation from your former company.

Even after your job placement, it is still necessary to keep a business relationship with the headhunter. Indeed, if the question of changing jobs arises in front of you, this person will help you decide quickly and painlessly. In our experience, there are a lot of examples of long-term and successful cooperation between candidates and consultants.