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How to Attract a Headhunter in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you’re actively looking for a job or not, it doesn’t hurt to have a headhunter (or job recruiter) on your side.  But, just like money (or the perfect job), recruiters don’t actually fall from the sky or grow on trees. So how do you find them when you need them?

“By far, the best tool to use is LinkedIn,” says The HT Group Senior Recruiter Michelle Hill. LinkedIn’s own research proves it: Ninety-four percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates and nearly half (48 percent) of recruiters use LinkedIn exclusively for social outreach. But, Hill adds, there are a few secrets to using LinkedIn to get the right kind of attention among recruiters. Here are her top five:

  1. Do your research. Find the top recruiters in your area and/or industry and then dig deeper. Research the recruiters at those firms both on the firm’s website and on other sites like LinkedIn. Find out who specializes in recruiting for your specific niche (your industry, job level, etc.). For instance, The HT Group recruiters specialize in specific areas such as temp staffing, executive-level recruiting or technical recruiting. It’s important to identify which type of recruiter will be the right match for you.
  2. Make a connection. When you’ve identified recruiters you’d like on your side, reach out to them. “It doesn’t hurt to call or send a LinkedIn request. Like most recruiters, I usually return the calls and accept the requests I get. But, in order to be on the headhunter’s radar simply leaving a message or becoming connections on LinkedIn isn’t enough,” Hill says. One of the best ways to stand out on LinkedIn, she adds, is to refer others for open positions. “When someone sends me a note referring a colleague for a position I’ve posted, I will remember them. It can give you a leg-up for when your own ideal job opens up.”
  3. Join the club. For more help to identify and get the attention of recruiters, Hill suggests joining certain LinkedIn groups that are solidly in your niche area. For example, if you specialize in medical device sales look for groups in your state or local area that bring those folks together (like the Texas Medical Device Alliance). “If it’s on LinkedIn and it’s an active group, there are likely recruiters that are part of the group. Participate, be helpful, and you’ll be noticed,” she says. LinkedIn boasts there are 8,000 new groups created weekly (totaling 2.1 million) with 200 conversations happening in those groups within any given minute, so finding a few within your niche shouldn’t be difficult.
  4. Go the traditional route. While Hill believes LinkedIn can be the best tool for researching and reaching out to headhunters, she admits her favorite way of being “wooed” by job candidates is decidedly old school. It’s by mail. “I love getting thoughtful, personal notes in the mail from job seekers,” she says. Whether it’s a simple thank you for chatting at a conference or a gift card and invitation to coffee, Hill adds, it is always remembered and appreciated.
  5. Don’t go overboard. The same mistakes that can lose you a job offer can also turn off headhunters. Resumes that are ten pages long or that include typos are easy write offs, says Hill. Monster compiled a great list of additional ways job candidates can annoy recruiters. At the top? Acting “creepy personal” or overly aggressive, following up too often, or playing way too hard to get. “It’s important to remember that headhunters can be your key to getting in the door for a job interview,” Hill concludes. “You need to impress them.”

Tell us: Have you worked with a headhunter or recruiter before? How did they find you—and was it a match made in job heaven? We’d love to know!


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