What should C-level managers improve while being recruited by a head hunter?

What should C-level managers improve while being recruited by a head hunter?

One of the renowned PR agencies asked – what should C-level managers change or perhaps even improve during interviews with head hunters? I must admit that I immediately frowned and was not able to control my facial expression, reminiscent of a question mark.

Firstly, I believe that top managers do not have time to read ‘guides’. They want to be up to date in so many areas that they probably won’t take note of so called ‘good advice of a head hunter’. Secondly, their level of self-presentation is refined in detail. They know exactly what to say and how to say it, you can even bet that they tell head hunters what they want to hear. Thirdly, I do not feel like giving good advice to anyone. Therefore, let’s call the following, a collection of observations, because after a deeper reflection on the subject, I came to the conclusion, that there are a few points that are repeated often enough to be considered a tendency.

1. A one man show (one-man orchestra)

Many times, when asked about the direction of development, a candidate answered that in fact they could do practically anything. They worked for ten years in logistics, had to deal with marketing, recruited people, have strong sales competences and a keen interest in finance. Versatility is a big problem in this case. The candidate probably tries to “sell themselves” in this way as a Managing Director or General Manager, however the way they go about it does not encourage a recommendation. They are strong in everything, but in what exactley?

2. Honesty is the best policy

“What was the reason for the change of job” – This question raises a lot of problems with the answer. After all, how can we talk about a conflict with our supervisor or a tense situation in the team that we would rather forget about? Ideally, tell us honestly about the reasons for leaving, of course if they were relevant. The consequences of the mistakes have already been incurred, conclusions drawn. “I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change, for this reason, I dropped everything and walked out”. No, I don’t buy it and I immediately start to dig as to the real reason for leaving. The truth will come out anyway while collecting references. There are no people who are good at everything from their first year of their career. Let’s not be afraid to talk about long journeys, difficult family situations or illnesses. We are all human beings.

3. Relocation is a family matter

Could there be anything worse for a head hunter than guiding a candidate through a multi-stage recruitment process to hear the following just before signing the contract: “I’m sorry, but I have to resign from the offer, because my wife/husband scrapped the idea”. During the first meeting, I inform the candidates about all the details I know about the position, the company, the conditions associated with the change of job. Then I ask them to talk seriously to their families before deciding to continue our negotiations. In order for them to inform their loved ones about the fact that apart from the professional challenge, development and finances, that there is also a relocation to another city. Unfortunately, managers often only mention the ongoing recruitment process at home, without going into detail.

4. Building relationships with the head hunter is important

In one of the Forbes articles I read that one of the most common mistakes made by top managers is the belief that they don’t have to build relationships with head hunters. The author of the text stated: “Some candidates do not respond to head hunter’s phone calls or emails because ‘they do not need it at the moment’. The problem is that headhunters have a long memory and a database of candidates.” I did not like this statement because it sounded like a threat. A candidate does not have to do anything, although the elementary basics of business savoir vivre, say that every message and phone must be answered. I would not demonize, however, that we create a black list of candidates who have not replied to us. Despite this, a thorn was stuck into our hearts by those who withdrew at the end of the recruitment process, accepting the counterpoint of the then employer. These situations are hard to forget. I, despite everything, still forgive if the candidate is able to save face, and not everyone can.

5. What would you change in my CV?

Candidates often believe that head hunters are career coaches. I am not exaggerating to say that I receive a request to “have a look at my CV” and to indicate appropriate changes several times a day. It takes me 30-60 minutes to analyze a CV and prepare and write my remarks. I can only do this at the expense of my private time, which is scare to begin with. In return, should I ask the candidate, which happenes to be Director of Finance to analyze the financial documents of my company and the candidate, which holds the position of Marketing Director to give an opinion on the promotional campaign that I plan to carry out?

I will summarize the above by saying that a head hunter needs good candidates in order to successfully complete the recruitment process. A C-level candidate will find a job independently, using networking for example. Of course, in order to achieve this, you need an interesting vacancy that matches your profile.

You also require a bit of luck.
Nevertheless, it is possible.
Although it can be difficult.
And it can last a really long time.
Well, then… 🙂

Monika Ciesielska
President at IMSA Search Global Partners. An experienced consultant in the recruitment of the management staff, including board members, and a leader of the recruiting team in the IT/Tech area. Enthusiast of digital transformation of HR processes. Podcaster at "Skrzydlaty HR" and "Top Leaders Club".
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