How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter

Posted on: 19/01/2019

How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter

How to ensure you get in front of a headhunter


So, you’ve heard about a fantastic search through a network contact or found the perfect role advertised online but the first hurdle is often getting past the search provider who is handling the assignment.

“If I had a penny for the amount of time that people have told me the story of how they have found it difficult with ‘said head hunter’.”

The head hunter who doesn’t give you a look in, who always goes to their preferred list of people when you have the perfect experience for the role. You know that person, right?

In the past a job-driven market has been partly to blame – it’s given clients optimum choice, so when times are tough they can go for the safe option.

But times have changed! The job/candidate ratio has changed and the companies that succeed in hiring top talent SHOULD be looking at more diverse options when hiring (although some search providers might not get this for some time!).

But, let’s throw out some home truths…Sometimes, you won’t have the right experience for a job and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes, you might think you’re perfect for it, but you’re just not right and sometimes clients can be incredibly picky (which is their prerogative) and there is not a lot you can do about it!

But sometimes, people can’t see the wood for the trees – and this is where you can make a difference.

So, here are our top tips on how to take an innovative approach:

1. Don’t apply, get referred! LinkedIn makes it easy these days to find connections in common and people take more notice of a referral.

2. Get noticed. Become a ‘thought leader’ in your market and you’ll soon gain kudos.

3. Don’t be too keen! No-one likes to be hassled all the time. It’s a little bit like dating, the keener you seem for something, the less people are interested.

4. Find commonality. Given the nature of the need to deliver in roles quickly these days, clients like to hire people that can hit the ground running; so make sure you highlight that you can do this.

5. Be Boolean smart. Make sure your CV has all of the buzzwords, as it may get rejected by technology if not.

6. Think outside of the box. Whilst you might not totally hit the brief, certain sectors have a lot of common themes i.e. business services firms, logistics and construction are all typically contract led, across multiple sites and employ large workforces.

7. Demonstrate commercial impact. If you’re just good at what you do, people will overlook minor things that don’t hit the brief.

8. Go nuclear! Not my preferred route for obvious reasons but sometimes if all else fails and you are getting nowhere with said provider… go directly to a business. Sometimes, people just get it wrong or you don’t connect, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t fit with the end client.

But most importantly, don’t give up!

We’re in the midst of a changing market and those that try hardest and push the boundaries, tend to open up options for themselves.


To discuss further, you can email me on


You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.