For our parents’ generation, leaving a company used to be difficult. In a time when staying with the same company for years, even decades, on end was the norm, parting ways was a big deal — but not anymore. These days, the median number of years that 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 job hopping is the new norm. Instead of scouring the internet for that one elusive job vacancy at a company you’ve always wanted to work for, a good idea is to hand the job off to headhunters who can do the job — and do a better job — for you.

If you need a few more reasons to hire a headhunter in the Philippines, here is a list of convincing benefits:

1. Finding you a job is literally the headhunter’s job: More than that, headhunters are, in a way, working for the companies that hired them to look for fresh 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 have all sent an email application, received an automated reply, then get radio silence for weeks on end. Companies that work with headhunters already have the desire to fill positions, which means that your CV is going to be reviewed.

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 jobs to get to the really good ones. 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.

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, he or she is going to know things like how well you fit in the team, how your skill 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 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 especially 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, he or she 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 that they are hiring. As such, headhunters do sometimes know jobs that aren’t published anywhere else, so you have the added 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 when a headhunter will really come in handy.

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 are just testing the waters, so what’s the harm in reaching out to a company or three? A headhunter, then, is all about confidentiality. You can trust a headhunter not to share your CV 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. As such, they are usually strapped for time and only want to recommend the best fit for various jobs. If they think that you are not suitable for a job or a particular company, headhunters will certainly let you know about it. This is beneficial because, not only do you get to narrow the scope of your job search, you don’t waste time being pushed to interview with companies you’re not a good fit for in the first place. Sidenote: if a headhunter is constantly pushing you to go for interviews you’re not interested in, bail!

The right headhunter for the job

Now that you have weighed the pros and cons of hiring a headhunter, where exactly do you begin? After all, with so many headhunters in the Philippines all vying for your attention, how do you know which ones work for you?

1. Ask a friend: word-of-mouth works wonders, and your friends and colleagues will be able to give you an idea of the headhunters they’ve 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 agencies.

3. Find the right fit: Quality aside, some headhunters prefer to specialise 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.

Questions to ask headhunters

After asking a friend, speaking with other professionals and doing some desk research, 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 you being assessed for whether you fit a specific company, the headhunter wants to know which of the many clients you fit best. 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 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 critical mass of good clients.

2. What is your specialty area?

As we’ve said before, not all headhunters were created equal. If it is hard to discern via the website what the headhunter specialises in, ask him or her instead. This is extra important, because you want to know if his or her speciality 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 throw this headhunter out. After all, it doesn’t hurt for your name to be part of a larger database. When the right opportunity arises, there is still a chance for your name to come up. This just means that, in the meantime, it is perhaps a good idea to look elsewhere.

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 he or she is 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 to separate headhunters who are 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 very specific skill set that the client is looking for, this is a great opportunity to find out what it is exactly. Every skill set or achievement you can share is an extra ‘ammunition’ that the headhunter can use to sell your expertise to his or her clients.

One final note

One great thing about working with a headhunter is the fact that you don’t always have to be the one to initiate a conversation. In fact, it is not out of the ordinary for headhunters to reach out to you even if you don’t necessarily have the intentions to leave an employment in the first place. However, that is not to say that you don’t have to do the work either. Part of the reason why workers are often approached by headhunters is because they’ve put in the work to get themselves ‘out there’, so to speak.

First, the basics. Start with updating that 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 also share it with your network to increase your chances of receiving a referral.

In our digital age when everything lives on the internet, it is perhaps also a good idea to give our social media accounts a good makeover. Uploading a good profile picture and adding your employment history is one thing, but you need to drill deeper and remove any unsavoury content to begin with. Some candidates even go as far as creating entire websites from scratch to showcase past projects.

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