Henrik Brabrand, CEO of life science-focused executive search firm Albright Partners A/S, gives his expert insight into how to stand out above the crowd and get noticed by headhunters.
So, you have decided that you may be up for a new challenge. You may not know it yet, but your next career opportunity could be in the hands of an executive search firm. Executive Search Specialists – or Headhunters – as we are often called – specialise in finding the strongest possible options for our clients and recruit for positions that often are not listed on job boards.
But how can you ensure that you draw a headhunter’s attention?
Consider these 5 strategies to get on the headhunter’s radar:
1. Boost your visibility
One of the most effective ways of being seen as a talent is to participate in active dialogues within your industry or field. Speaking at events or conferences, moderating or serving on a panel, having articles published or being quoted in relevant articles will all increase your visibility. Disseminating your corporate insights can inspire people to see you as an authority in your field. As a bonus, attending educational or networking events will also allow you to garner valuable information on current trends and opportunities. Join a relevant organisation in your discipline or industry to create and build strategic partnerships as it can legitimize you and keep you rooted in important industry circles.
There are several strategies that will help you get noticed by an executive search firm, but the key is to raise your visibility and display your value
2. Be recognised for your contributions and achievements
Success is like a magnet, and the ability to make your achievements and contributions visible to others will make you more likely to be approached by a search firm. People who stand out in a positive way are easier to find. Being recognised is also linked to your ability to build a strong personal brand and image. Your ability to effectively lead yourself and communicate the image you want to be associated with by others is truly key. Remember, that a negative reference has the potential to outweigh any positive reference. Essentially, what other people think of you and if they are prone to recommend you will be the difference-maker.
Personal branding is a vital part of a successful career. It can have long-term effects on your career path, your earning potential and your value in the eyes of a headhunter. Ultimately a strong personal brand allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out in the pack.
3. Establish your professional value
Headhunters will only present the most qualified individuals that have specific skills and experience to a potential employer. During a recruitment process, this is a key criterion for whether you may be considered for a role. Sharing your expertise not only helps others in their professional endeavours but is also a way for you to establish your reputation as an expert or specialist. Serving on an advisory board is one way to display your knowledge and industry expertise. Another possibility is taking an adjunct faculty position which not only highlights your commitment to educating future leaders but also allows you to connect and expand your visibility.
4. Strengthen your network
A mistake that people make when they network is that they forget the importance of quality over quantity. While it is beneficial to know many people e.g. in your industry, these connections are meaningless if they are superficial. Your professional relationships should be nurtured consistently and over the long term. Not only does this type of behaviour inspire far more genuine connections but also rewards you with a trusted network which will support you and recommend you with enthusiasm when it matters most. Essentially, networking proactively and effectively with peers and across your industry is a strong lever and will increase your chances of being noticed and of being mentioned as a relevant candidate when a headhunter calls on his or her industry sources when recruiting for a position.
In fact, networking is at the very foundation of all career and business development activities. Effective networking involves defining possible contacts, determining the individual networking purpose, developing an action plan and committing the resources necessary to achieve valuable network relations. The objective here is to ensure a versatile platform of advice and sparring, but also to build strong concentrations of networks in alignment with the goals—career or otherwise—that you have set out to achieve. However, most importantly, you must build your network before you need it. When we are approached by jobseekers for advice on how to build a network, I first tell them it is basically too late. It is a tough message to give but I really want them to understand how important networking is. People who are several years into a job tend to forget about networking beyond their colleagues and close business associates. This will simply not suffice, because tomorrow they may have a new boss and the day after they may be out on the street looking for a new job.
It is also crucial to note that nothing is free. To obtain meaningful and strong networking relations, it is important to offer something back to your networking contact. Always think— something for something and view networking as a social arbitrage, a constant and open exchange of favours and intelligence—because what you give determines what you get back.
5. Embrace the power of social media
The traditional executive search process has been transformed by modern search engines and social networking sites such as LinkedIn, which are now considered to be an important tool by most search firms. Building yourself a compelling social media profile is strongly advised.
Have a clear strategy of where it is appropriate to post your profile, keep all information up-to-date and make sure to keep the professional information and personal information separate. Think of your social media profile as your voice. Share content that is relevant to you and engage thoughtfully with others. Make your articles, industry comments, and/or PR visible online and make it interesting for the reader. While over-exposure is not advisable, a visible presence online will increase your chances of headhunters finding you.
Establishing a social media presence and demonstrating your expertise will attract hiring headhunters. In fact, thought leaders are often perceived as innovative and visionary.
Most headhunters will visit your LinkedIn profile before reaching out to you. Therefore, it is paramount to maintain an updated and detailed profile that describes your professional assets and personality in a unique way
There are several strategies that will help you get noticed by an executive search firm, but the key is to raise your visibility and display your value. Strive to continuously evolve your knowledge and share your expertise. Grow and nurture your network with care. Be aware of industry trends and stay abreast of them. And most importantly, demonstrate your personal competencies throughout to leave a lasting, positive impression on others.
 Jobseekers are people who have recently been made redundant or for different reasons are actively looking for a new job.