There are two basic formats for landing a new job. Either you go find a job or it finds you. In the case of the latter, a job might find you by way of a headhunter. You are minding your own business when, out of the blue, you get a phone call from a complete stranger looking to offer you a job.
Online job boards, like Pharma Diversity, still account for most of the initial contacts between recruiters and job seekers. For the record, Pharma Diversity serves the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. They say that headhunting is becoming ever more prominent in some industries where competition for top talent is stiff.
Getting that first headhunter contact can be awkward. How do you handle it? What do you say? How much time will you have to make a decision before the headhunter dismisses you and moves on to the next candidate?
Getting the Call at Work
Being contacted by a headhunter is especially awkward when you are at work. Whether it’s a phone call, text message or email, there is always the risk that someone close by will find out what’s going on. Then you could be labeled disloyal to your current employer even though you did not initiate contact.
If you ever get a headhunter’s call at work, don’t panic. Headhunters know they might be contacting you at work even as they dial the phone. There are polite ways to explain that you cannot talk at the moment but that you’re interested in having the conversation later on.
While you have the recruiter’s attention, get their personal contact information. Then set up a tentative time to talk again. You can contact the recruiter or vice-versa.
Yes, There Will Be Questions
A lot of first-time contacts throw candidates for a loop because recruiters have a lot of questions. There is no way to adequately prepare until you’ve been through it multiple times. That moment you get your first headhunter contact, just relax. Again, there is no need to panic.
Some of the questions you will be able to answer immediately. Others will require some thought on your part. That’s fine. Just explain to the recruiter that you need time to put together answers for those questions. They will not only understand, but also look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Be Honest and Upfront
Recruiters are in the business of matching the best candidates with each job opportunity. Their livelihood depends on getting it right. Therefore, they have no vested interest in trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Show them similar consideration. Be honest and upfront in all your conversations.
For example, do not be afraid to tell a recruiter you don’t think you’re a good fit for the position. They will not be offended. In fact, a good recruiter will thank you for not wasting their time. That may work in your favor later on.
Being contacted by a recruiter can be an uncomfortable experience. It doesn’t have to be. Some recruiters are better than others, setting candidates’ minds at ease from the very first contact. Others are a lot more aggressive. They do not want to waste their time talking to people who show very little promise.
If you have never been contacted by a headhunter, there is no guarantee you ever will be. But you are still free to scour job boards in search of the perfect position you have always dreamed of. And who knows? Spend a little time on a job board and you just may get a call from a headhunter.