Why hire a headhunter

During our parents’ generation, company loyalty was seen as a norm, and job resignation was frowned upon — not anymore. These days, the median number of years workers remain at the same employment hovers at about 4.6 years. While that is a statistic from the US, the phenomenon is happening within the recruitment market in the Philippines as well, which means that changing jobs is the new norm.

Instead of scouring the Internet for that one elusive job vacancy at a company you’ve longed to work for, a smarter plan is to hand the job over to headhunters who can do the job — and do a better job — for you. Ahead, more reasons why you should work with a headhunter in the Philippines.

7 benefits of working with a headhunter for your job search

1. A headhunter can help you find a job

More than that, headhunters are, in a way, working for the companies that hired them to look for suitable talent. As such, your resume will have a clear, direct path to the hiring manager’s inbox. This is especially crucial, considering just how often we don't hear back after applying for jobs online (this excludes the times we received automated replies). Companies that work with headhunters rely on headhunters to find suitable candidates, which means your resume will naturally be reviewed by hiring managers.

2. You spent less time applying for mediocre jobs

When it comes to job search, there is always a chance that you have to wade through a lot of less-than-stellar positions to get to the ones that appeal to you. However, a good headhunter is going to cut through all that noise. This means that you won’t have to apply for every job that seems vaguely up your professional alley.

Related: 3 impactful resume templates for your job search

3. Headhunters probably know the company better than you

There are a lot of things that companies leave out of job descriptions, and only a well-connected headhunter will be privy to such information. For example, they will know things like how well you fit in the team, how your skills sets add to the business objective, where the company wants to go in the coming years, even the personality that works well with the boss.

4. A headhunter can help with salary and benefits negotiations

Most of us don’t do very well when it comes to salary negotiations. While it is true that the more money you get, the merrier you are, you also don’t want to quote a sky-high salary and come across as being a demanding hire.

In the Philippines, where workplace hierarchy is observed, you don’t want to come across as being the upstart even before you get a job. With a headhunter, on the other hand, they might be able to give you a ballpark figure of what you can quote or when a salary level is too high or too low.

5. Headhunters have access to unpublished jobs

Not all job openings make it onto job portals. Sometimes it is about secrecy. A company doesn’t want everybody to know that a position, especially a high-level one, is available. Instead, they want to keep the information on the down-low but still let the right talent know they are hiring.

As such, headhunters do sometimes know jobs that aren’t published anywhere else, so you have the bonus of applying for more positions. They might also recommend positions or companies that you might not have considered in the first place. For example, if you are based in Jakarta, you might not think that there is a similar vacancy in, say, Bandung. This is where a headhunter comes in handy.

Related: 10 important career lessons most people learn too late in life

6. Headhunters are also secret keepers

When you are looking for a new role, you don’t necessarily want your current company to know about it. Sometimes, we want to know what jobs are available in the market, so what’s the harm in reaching out to one company or three? A headhunter, then, is all about confidentiality. You can trust a headhunter not to share your resume online and will only share it with the potential employers that matter.

7. Headhunters are pragmatic

You are not the only person working with the headhunter. They are usually strapped for time and only want to recommend the best fit for various jobs. If they think you are not suitable for a job or a particular company, headhunters will undoubtedly let you know about it.

This is beneficial because not only do you get to narrow the scope of your job search, you do not waste time being pushed to interview with companies you’re not a good fit for in the first place. Sidenote: if a headhunter constantly pushes you to go for interviews you’re not interested in, bail!

Related: How to be more confident at work according to Asia's female leaders

How to find the right headhunter for your job search

Now that you have weighed the pros and cons of working with a headhunter, here's how you can start looking for the right recruitment specialist:

1. Ask a friend

Word-of-mouth works wonders, and your friends and colleagues may be able to give you an idea of the headhunters they have worked with in the past, especially if they are also in the same industry. This is particularly important because not all headhunters were created equal.

While most are about matching talent to job vacancies, some less-than-honest headhunters might be in it for the commission — that is to say, they are less interested in the right talent but the talent who is available right now.

2. Ask other professionals

Then there are people whose jobs, too, are in recruitment. If you have a career coach or a mentor to turn to, they are good people to start when it comes to the right headhunters to approach. HR professionals within your network, too, might be able to put you in touch as they often partner with agencies.

3. Find the right fit

Quality aside, some headhunters prefer to specialize in specific industries, while others prefer to operate at the local, national, regional or international level. For example, just because the headhunter operates in Manila doesn’t mean that he knows the hiring trends in other major cities in the Philippines. Furthermore, be sure to look at the levels that the headhunter places its candidates, such as temporary, full-time, entry-level and director-level.

Related: 6 performance and career progression secrets they don’t teach you at school

5 questions to ask headhunters

After asking a friend, speaking with other professionals, and researching, it is time for a face-to-face meeting with the headhunter. These meetings are a bit like job interviews, but the dynamics are a bit different.

Instead of being assessed for whether you fit a specific company, the headhunter wants to know if you would match the various roles offered by their clients. And a meet up with a headhunter doesn’t have to be a one-way street, either. Take this opportunity to find out if the headhunter is right for you, too. To begin, here are some questions you can ask:

1. How long have you been recruiting?

You want to find out how experienced the headhunter is and if they are known within the industry. If the headhunter is new to the business or if the company they represent hasn’t been around very long, it is possible for your odds to be hindered, as headhunting is a professional that will take a bit of time to reach that a substantial volume of good clients.

2. What is your specialty area?

If it is difficult to discern through the website what the headhunter specializes in, ask them instead. This is extra important because you want to know if their specialty lines up with your area of expertise.

3. Do you have client companies currently looking for someone with my expertise?

If the headhunter reached out to you, then the answer to this question is likely a ‘Yes’. However, if you were the one who reached out first, there is a good chance that no one is looking for your area of expertise, or perhaps there isn’t an available fit just yet. With that said, don’t be too hasty to strike out this headhunter from your contact list. After all, it doesn’t hurt for your name to be part of a more extensive database. When the right opportunity arises, there is still a chance for your name to come up.

4. How many people have you placed with a specific client company?

This number will usually tell you how good a relationship the headhunter has with the company they are recommending. Like a returning customer, if the headhunter is especially capable, the client company will likely keep coming back for more when hiring needs arise. This question will help separate headhunters just throwing resumes at their employers from the real deal out there.

5. What kind of background and skills is your client looking for?

As much as possible, you want to list your backgrounds, skills and achievements in the CV. However, if there is a particular skills set that the client is looking for, this is a great opportunity to find out what it is. Every skills set or achievement you can share is an extra ‘ammunition’ that the headhunter can use to sell your expertise to their clients.

Related: 5 steps to creating your career plan

On a final note

The wonderful thing about working with a headhunter is the fact that you don’t always have to be the one to initiate a conversation. It is not out of the ordinary for headhunters to reach out to you, even if you don’t necessarily have the intention to leave your current employment.

However, that is not to say that you don’t have to do the work either. Part of why headhunters often approach working professionals is because they have put in the work to get themselves ‘out there’.

First, the basics. Start with updating your resume, making sure to include some details about your past projects and accomplishments you made along the way. After that is done, make sure to share it with your network to increase your chances of receiving a referral.

When everything lives on the internet in our digital age, it is essential to give our social media accounts a good makeover. Uploading a good profile picture and adding your employment history is one thing. Still, it would be best to drill deeper and remove any unsavory content that you may have posted or shared previously. If your work focuses on visual offerings like design, art direction or writing, you could also create a website to highlight your portfolio of past projects.

Read more:
9 things recruiters look for in a resume
Bayanihan: Succeeding through active learning and listening
#BecomingTechies: how I became a pioneer cybersecurity strategist in Asia

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