A headhunter contacted you – what happens next?

In our last publication, we looked at step-by-step how to optimise your LinkedIn profile and get found by a headhunter. As direct search has become more common across many skill levels, with the right actions almost anyone can nowadays be contacted by a recruitment consultant. However, the contact can be unexpected, especially in situations where the search for a new job is not on the agenda. When considering the attractiveness of a job offer, it is good to be aware of how the process works and how you should handle it.

First contact

A headhunter, or recruitment consultant, usually contacts a potential candidate by phone, or by contacting them on LinkedIn, for example. If the contact is made by phone, it is advisable to find an environment where you can listen to what the recruitment consultant has to offer and what the role entails. If the call comes at a bad time, it is a good idea to arrange another call at a more convenient time. This is better than taking the conversation forward in a situation that may not be conducive to concentration or making a good first impression.

Company and role introduction

On first contact, the recruitment consultant will always give an introduction to the company and the role. The recruitment consultant’s role is to provide enough information to enable the candidate to assess their interest in the role on the basis of the first contact and to decide on their next steps. The introductory material should include an introduction to the company, the key tasks, objectives and key stakeholders of the role, as well as information about the location, the remote working opportunities and the salary range for the role.

Evaluate and analyse

We recommend that you read the role and company description carefully, even if you are not actively looking for a new job. It is a good idea to determine whether your skills and qualifications match those required to succeed in the role. Then, you can look at the role by comparing clear elements such as location, salary level or remote working opportunities. It is also worth considering the challenges, learning and development opportunities and career paths offered by the job. You can also reflect on the role in relation to your current role and consider the motivational factors for change. 

If the salary range is communicated in the first contact, it is always worth reflecting on your own experience and skills against the criteria and responsibilities of the role.

If, after reflection, the role is not of interest, the situation should still be taken as an opportunity to network and make contacts. It is therefore always worth responding to the recruitment consultant and thanking them for contacting you, as it is a good opportunity to use the situation as a chance for future opportunities. You can tell the consultant what role you see yourself in – once a suitable vacancy opens up, the recruitment consultant may contact you again.

Discussions with a recruitment consultant:

If the role seems suitable and interesting, you will usually discuss it further with the recruitment consultant over the phone. At this point, it is useful for the candidate to explain more about their relevant work experience, motivation and strengths. You can highlight your motivation for the role by asking more specific questions.

Candidates interested in the role will be presented to the client company, which will decide on the next steps for each candidate. The recruitment consultant will maintain active communication with candidates about the process and its steps.

Interviews with the client:

The client company decides which of the activated candidates will be invited for further interviews. As the interview approaches, it is a useful exercise to reflect on your own experience and strengths against the criteria of the role sought. What kind of things would the recruiting manager like to hear about me? So, when preparing for interviews, it’s worth looking carefully at the role description and the company. You can be proactive and critical by asking pre-prepared questions, for example about specific objectives or the working environment. 

A two-way selling situation:

Although the recruitment situation for a direct candidate is different from the recruitment process for a job advertisement, recruitment is still a two-way selling situation. The outcome of the recruitment is therefore not only dependent on the candidate’s interest in the role. In a direct search, as in all recruitment, the aim is to find the most suitable person for the role. For this reason, there are always several potential candidates in the recruitment process, which is something to keep in mind throughout the process.

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Mikko Savusalo
mikko.savusalo[at]avila.fi

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