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What To Do if You Get a Headhunting Call

By Kinexus on 16 August 2016

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Receiving an unexpected call from a headhunter about a position is flattering, awkward, unsolicited and opportunistic all at the same time. The ability to manage a headhunting call can help support your career either immediately or in the future.

1. Make sure you know who is calling you and why
Get them to send you an email and call them back.  Check out the credentials of the person (LinkedIn & Google can help with this) and make sure they have some credibility in your industry.  Ask a few questions to check out their depth of knowledge.

2. Listen to the opportunity
If it has no relevance, then explain why clearly and articulately, be polite and factual. If you are interested, and there is some relevance, then I would suggest a meeting to further clarify.

3. Work out if it’s a good fit?
It is unlikely that the head hunter can divulge the name of the company that they are recruiting for, but they should be able to give you information on the role, size of the company and the nature of the opportunity.  Don’t get too hung up on who the company is at this point, privacy is good for all parties at this stage.

4. Get a job description
Have your contact send you a written job description so that you can put together a relevant resume. NB. Alarm bells should ring if there is no documentation on the role.

5. Salary
You don’t have to divulge your salary at this point but I would certainly get some thoughts on what the role will pay to ensure it is a viable opportunity.  Salaries can vary hugely, especially at senior levels.  It is fine to give a broad indication of what you would be looking for to avoid wasting time.

6. Be honest and decisive
When you have built some level of trust with the recruiter, be open, honest and straight forward.  Being decisive at this point is going to benefit everyone.  Don’t leave it to the last minute before deciding not to proceed with the role.  It is better to do this thinking as soon as you can and get whatever information you need in order make the decision early.

7. Keep it to yourself
Don’t tell all of your colleagues and manager that you have received a head hunting call.  Believe it or not, it won’t make people think more highly of you, in fact, the contrary is the case.

8. Don’t deliberately use the offer as leverage
Don’t go through the process with the sole intent of driving your current employer to counter offer you. This strategy is dangerous and can damage your reputation.  If at a certain point it’s appropriate to let your current employer know that you are looking at another opportunity, then do so with honesty and openness.

Above all, communicate well; be decisive and don’t get carried away by the fact that you have been approached. Your attitude throughout this process might well determine how this opportunity or the next will turn out.

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