Sales Basics 101

Contacting a Headhunter

Be prepared. Know exactly what you’re going to say.

Interview Hints

Headhunters are a special breed; they are not HR types, they are not hiring managers. They make money by placing people in jobs. Headhunters are about the money, not the relationship. Also, they are about finding people for jobs they are working with, not jobs for people they are working with.

Everyone hopes to be contacted by a headhunter, but what if you want to try to contact a headhunter? How would you go about reversing the dynamics? Cold-calling on a recruiter has been done, and often with success, but you need to be well-prepared, and know exactly what you’re going to say or you will get a very swift verbal brush-off. Here are some pointers on how to approach this call;

Be brief and to the point

Introduce yourself, tell them where you got their name and number from; the type of position you’re seeking, the industry you’re currently in, the company you work for, and how long you’ve been there. Tell them in a single sentence why you are looking to change jobs and that you are open to anything they have to offer.

Recruiters are not career counselors

Do not ask them for advice. Do not sound uncertain about your goals and purpose.

Tell them who you’ve already interviewed with

This is important because if they send your resume to a company who’s already talked to you it makes them look bad. And if that happens just once because of you, they will not work with you.

Understand their loyalties

To understand their motivation, you need to understand how they get paid. You should have been able to find this information when you were researching the headhunters you wanted to contact, but just to be sure, ask them; If they’re ‘retained’ it means the company with the job is paying them to find the person for the position. If they’re on ‘contingency’ it means they don’t have exclusive rights to this position, and they may be more willing to work with you. Be careful- this may also mean that you would be the one paying for their time if they place you. Ask them directly.

Tell them if you can relocate or not

Do not waste anyone’s time by not being very specific with them about where you would be willing to accept a position.

If you’re working with other recruiters

Do not tell them! Recruiting is very competitive and can be very cut-throat. They may not work with you because they don’t want to lose the job order (hence commission) to another recruiter.

Be extremely professional

Do not push for a face to face interview. Most savvy recruiters don’t need to meet you in order to place you

If changing industries;

Help them help you by pointing out to them the ‘bridge skills’ you posses that make sense of the change you’re looking for. For example; if you’re currently in medical equipment sales and now want to move into software; tell them you’re interested in selling software to the medical market.

Treat this like a sales call

Take no more than 10 minutes. Be respectful of their time.

Go to any interview they set up for you

This is important- you need to go whether you want the job or not. Work to get the offer- if a recruiter sees that you’re getting offers, they’ll send you out for higher paying jobs because most recruiters get a percentage of your base salary as their fee, and again- for recruiters it’s all about the money.

Offer to become a resource

Ask about the type of people the recruiter’s looking for in your industry, and ask if you may refer people to them. You want to build your value with the recruiter.

If you get a face to face

You need to wear a dark suit and power tie. No exceptions. You need your résumé in hand on good quality paper, along with your references from past employers. Have copies of your W-2 and any paperwork showing your sales ranking (in dollars or percentages) within your current position.

Recruiters are about the money

They only build relationships with those who will bring them money, so don’t take it personally if they show no interest. Just move on to the next one call.

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