It’s a jackpot to have a headhunter call you. Or is it? For those who get approached by a headhunter for the first time, it may be very exciting. The first timers are also usually quite interested to hear about the new possibilities they are presented with. But imagine you need to catch the very best player who receives these offers on a regular basis – suddenly the stakes get higher! This means that you need to brush up your game big time.
Executive search is becoming mainstream in various industries. It indeed makes a lot of sense to look for the best match proactively and in a more targeted way instead of setting a time- and resource-consuming mass recruitment process. For many industries, the season of executive search is just starting. But when it comes to the IT industry in particular, executive search is already the status quo. Attracting the very best IT talent is a challenging task, because these superstars have very high standards when it comes to their employer and their work. The first step to attracting talent is, of course, making sure you have an attractive company culture and that you are communicating it to the world. The second step is skillful headhunting.
The most eligible candidates get bombarded with e-mails and calls from headhunters. Believe it or not, it can get very irritating for them! Figuratively speaking, you might enjoy eating a few strawberries every now and then, but try eating a whole bowl each week! This results in opposition. When you pick up the phone to offer a new opportunity to a top player, in their mind it is a sales person calling and not a Good Samaritan like you. From the candidate’s perspective you might have been the number five of the ongoing month with the same pitch and the same one-sided motives. Let’s face it: nobody wants to have their day interrupted by a mediocre sales pitch.
Still, there are some tactics and thinking patterns that greatly increase your chances of catching a top performer:
1 Savvy sourcing.
There are talents who prefer to stay hidden because they have already received too much of these sales e-mails and calls. This means that you won’t find them just by typing “Java” into your LinkedIn search tab. Their information is out there to be caught, but it’s lurking in the shadows of the deep web. Finding these diamonds takes skill, time and wit.
Another significant thing to consider is that not all the people who are receiving most of the attention are necessarily the best matches for your company. There are numerous unpolished diamonds, so to speak, who are yet to be found. The best headhunters are able to identify these hidden talents with skillful sourcing.
Now that you have sourced the most promising candidates, it’s time to get to know them. You may be in a hurry to contact them, but don’t just pick up a rifle and shoot it all around. Instead take a couple of minutes to go through each person’s information in a mindful manner. Do your work before reaching out to a candidate; learn their history and if possible, their goals and plans for their career. You want to know what the person is about before you call them. Don’t waste their time asking something stupid you could have learned just by briefly reviewing their profile.
Knowing a candidate’s background helps you to present your position in a way that is interesting to them in particular. You also show respect and interest in them by already knowing the facts. You only have a brief moment to talk to this person over the phone – make sure you can use those minutes wisely and can tap into things that are not visible on their profile.
3 Right motives.
Finally, time to pick up the phone! This is where you need to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Let’s imagine someone you’ve never heard of calls you. You don’t even know the reason for their call just yet, but you hear it in their voice in a millisecond: it’s a salesperson. The next thing you know they are already halfway through their pre-written monologue. Spoiler: talents don’t like salespeople! So try not to sound like one.
Why do we catch the caller’s intention so fast? Because it shows in their voice, in their ways of starting the conversation, in everything. And what is this IT? – Their motive. You cannot fake your motive. We as human beings are built to tell the truth and when you are not telling it, being convincing is almost impossible (assuming you’re not a sociopath)!
You need to have your priorities straight. If your only motive is filling a role and getting a big pay check this month, you will only catch a certain amount of the talents – possibly not the one most suitable for your company. In order for you to be convincing you need to have another motive paired with the desire to finding the best match for the position in hand – and that is a true desire to help the candidate you’re contacting. You need to take real interest in their career and want to give them your best advice.
I hope this helps you in your search for the very best talent!