Four tips that make the headhunter call you

Four tips that make the headhunter call you

Headhunters are the almost mythical characters who have chosen you for the vacant top job. Or what? Not quite. Perhaps your strong profile and merits have made your profile interesting on Google and LinkedIn, and maybe you sparkle in our CV database. But how do you even make sure that we are going to call you? What do you say when we call? And what can you use in the long run? I have collected 4 tips that will dress you up before, during and after the headhunter’s call and tell a little about how we can help each other. One service is usually worth the other.

Headhunters are not just a voice at the other end of the phone. We are effective partners who can boost your career both in the short and long term – if you help us too. For example, you can generate and qualify leads for our business and thus make us better. In other words, we need each other, and that also counts, even though we may have to offer the specific job to another candidate. If you consider our interest in you as the start of a collaboration that can last for many years, then you have already come a long way. The interaction and the initial conversation are of course crucial for whether it is you, we and the company ultimately aim for. But it also sets the stage for future cooperation, which should be between us as headhunters and you as a candidate. It is about being prepared and knowing the conditions and perspectives. So here are 4 good tips that give you a head start already before the phone rings.

1.   Be visible and relevant both online and offline

It is useful to know and understand the headhunter’s reality in a recruitment process. We are thorough people, but we are also time-conscious. If you want to stand out in the number of qualified candidates, your core competencies must be visible and prominent in both your CV, on your LinkedIn profile and where your qualifications may appear.

According to the experienced headhunter, Jorg Stegemann, the decision to read further in your CV is based on 10 seconds of screening. I can very well subscribe to that. Therefore, consider making a concrete executive summary at the top: MBA, 6 years sales experience at management level, fluency in French. Drop clichés like team-player, dynamic or squid. There are plenty of them. A nice and well-constructed CV and a professional LinkedIn profile do not do it alone. You also need to ensure your visibility and searchability online. For example, write blog posts on LinkedIn on topics in your professional niche. In this way, you highlight the red thread of your professionalism and career, and that makes you visible on our radar. It pushes you forward on Google, and it shows that you are making personal and innovative thoughts about your field. It also makes you visible in the networks – formal as well as informal – as you are part of both the virtual and the real world.

When a headhunter does his research on you, your profile, including your role and your core competencies, must be clear. But we headhunters are not just searching online. We also use our network, sources and business partners in the real world, and it is often when there is a coincidence between you and our network that we become aware of you. In other words, if you are visible in your own networks, your name and your skills are more likely to appear in ours.

2.   Understand the headhunter’s reality

It may be beneficial to reflect on the headhunter’s reality before the call arrives. We are not here to find a job for you. Our primary task is to find the right candidate for the company. Like everyone else, we are part of a business that lives on satisfied customers and new tasks. Put in another way: We are not gambling with the candidates that we send to the company. Headhunters have an image that needs to be cared for, and if we send a wrong candidate, it will sound hollow and reflect bad judgment. But who are we? Headhunter is not an education. We’ve all had a different job before, and it doesn’t have to be in your line of business. If you aspire to the position as CTO, then you should not expect far-reaching answers about very specific tasks. We also recruit for other positions. So to speak, we are generalists in a world of specialists.

3. Be mentally ready for the conversation

It’s always nice to be coveted. When we contact you in connection with a specific position, it is because we have seen how your career has evolved over the years, and what results you have delivered. In short, our call is a confirmation of your efforts, and it is flattering. But it does not mean that you have to throw yourself into the conversation head over heels. Maybe you can’t talk freely when the phone rings, and then it’s okay to call back. It is better to take the conversation calmly than with eyes and ears in the neck. But be sure to call back. Preferably the same day or the day after. When you are ready, we typically ask about your current job situation. Here you can answer that you are not job seeking, passively seeking or actively seeking. Then the terms are set. At the same time, it is important that you have a distinct, clear speech for your career history so that we can quickly get a sense of who you are, and what you stand for. And last but not least: Have answers ready for your personal motivation for significant job shifts during your career. In this way, you demonstrate targeting, control and reflection. You must of course believe in the opportunity when we call you. But don’t imagine that the first call from a headhunter is a job offer. It is the beginning of an – often long – process that is both about uncovering whether you are at all interested in a job change right now, whether you are the right one for the job, and whether the position is right for you. The first call actually is more like sparring. We would like to get to know you. And again: It is also an important starting point for a further – and hopefully – long-term cooperation.

4. Nurse the relation to your headhunter

You never know when you will need a headhunter. If you have a good relationship with the headhunter, then keep in touch – even if you do not end up with the job. A skilled headhunter in your network can be valuable in the long run. Contact your headhunter if you have a candidate in mind who might be interesting to her or him. We also experience recessions where candidates are scarce. If you are helpful here, we will remember you. In that way, we can promote each other’s careers. Therefore, it is important that you like and trust your headhunter. Call and take a jovial and non-binding talk about what is happening in our respective industries. That is how equal partners do. You never know what opportunities await you just around the corner. But maybe we do.


By Hansen Toft A/S

1 reply
  1. Kristofer Van Wagner
    Kristofer Van Wagner says:

    Thank you for sharing that it is important for the headhunter and the potential candidates to have a good relationship for future purposes. I also find it interesting that candidates need to be visible online and offline so that it will attract the headhunter’s attention. I think I will keep this tip in mind.


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