How Headhunters Work & How To Be Found By One

Ed Pintwala
November 30, 2023

In terms of how we magically find candidates, it's really quite simple, but it does take discipline, persistence, creativity, and a dash of luck that I like to think comes from minding your reputation and being generous and open-minded along the way.

For anyone recruiting in the current market, make sure you are sourcing from all 4 'markets'.

1. Active Market

  • Post a job and sort through 'active applicants'
  • The key is to have a well-articulated JD, be real & give them insight into the role and company beyond the generic job duties
  • Probably the easiest method, but lots of negatives: reactive, time-consuming, passive - more a 'hope and pray' approach - but when done right sometimes you get lucky with a ⭐

2. The Semi-Active Market

  • Engage + active outreach to candidates likely to listen or consider a career move if the 'right' opportunity presents
  • Also fairly easy - depending on the role - to engage and find talent who are interested in considering new opportunities
  • Depending on the role, and 'supply of candidates' sometimes this is enough effort to find a strong candidate at the right place & time in their career to make a move

  1. The Passive / Silent Market
  • Usually requires more effort to get these candidates' attention, an email, a LinkedIn msg or connect request, a text, or a follow-up call if you can get a phone number. Repeat, without hounding and annoying them :)
  • This is where being a Boolean Search black belt ninja comes into play!
  • May sound silly but with technology, keyword search, filtering, and loads of data and resumes out there, the difference in one keyword, search string, and/or advanced filter can eliminate or include, and greatly affect your outcome and chances for success
  • Often well worth the effort as many of these professionals are super talented, dedicated, and too busy working vs. looking for work.
  • Takes research, list building, referrals, digging, and connecting the dots
  • Requires more effort but > usually yields better results ✅

  1. The Hidden Market
  • Nowadays I would bet this market barely gets touched
  • It's difficult to know the stats, but thousands of people still do not exist on LinkedIn, or Indeed and are not easily found online
  • Only if you have a good network, reputation, and platform that makes these people feel safe, & secure about reaching out to you if/when they may consider a move, you may get lucky to engage them
  • Otherwise, it takes list building of competitors, industry intel, and networking to get through to these candidates
  • The most difficult market to find and engage, but usually the most employable and high-performing 🏅
  • A professional Recruiter will research, target, and engage all 4 of these markets simultaneously, shortlist, assess, and present a very strong list in 8-10 business days. Doing it right takes more time, strategic thinking, focus, & correlation of info than most probably realize :)

How Can I Make Myself Visible & Attractive To Talent Managers

There is no right or wrong approach -, if you’ve been restructured or your facility is closing, you’re immediately going to flip into the #1 Active market candidate pool.

However, for most, being too busy at work vs. looking for work is a good thing. And I’m sure your Employer will love you for it. That said, a great strategy to prevent finding yourself unemployed one day, is to take even a couple of hours each month to:

  • Update your Resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Document projects you’ve worked on, key accomplishments, fact-based examples
  • Create and Follow some LinkedIn Job Alerts 
  • Comment, like, follow what former colleagues or friends are doing in their careers on LinkedIn (this also makes your profile more visible and active to others who may be looking for your skillset)

You never know what may come from that message, connection request, or coffee meet-up.

The real value in what a Recruiter can do comes from being able to help you weigh the pros and cons of these opportunities. Not sugarcoat and mislead, or over-promise and under-deliver. A good recruiter should approach you with empathy, and interest in your situation, and learn what’s important to you in your career search and job. Beyond location, salary, and title.

The real value we can bring is to engage, assess, help navigate the interview process, and offer negotiation tips, use influencing skills, empathy, active listening, all with patience and transparency, to get to a win-win outcome.

So as far as explaining my career to my daughter goes, I don’t expect her to read this, and follow in my footsteps, I realize this is not a traditional career path, but different people find reward and purpose from different parts of their job. 

And I can say that I truly enjoy what I do (95% of the days anyway:)  And I hope to be doing this for a while longer still.  It provides autonomy, variety, and a lot of interaction with hard-working, interesting, and driven people and business leaders, in a sector that is constantly innovating and putting food on the table for families. Not to mention it also allows me flexibility to spend more time with my daughter - so if she recognizes that, it’s a win-win.

Product Of The Week

Cavendish Farms All-Day Breakfast Mini Quick Cook Hash Brown Patties

My kids love these - as do I, and even though they’re fried, perhaps it feels healthier cooking them in the oven or air-fryer ;)

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