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Success and Leadership

How To Get Headhunted (the Right Way)

Arran Stewart

Typically, business leaders, C-suite, and high-end executives of companies do not look for jobs. This is for a number of reasons, but generally good leaders are identified by other companies and persuaded to take on a new role after months of negotiation. This is typically facilitated by executive search professionals, otherwise known as headhunters.

While it’s not the rule, it’s often thought that if a C-suite member is actively out looking for another role, it’s because they have failed at their current post. Individuals at this level are usually tied in with stock and bonus incentives, so the fact they are out in the market physically seeking can be seen as unusual and is something to keep in mind if you are looking to leave your current role.

Since we are all human, from time to time, we crave a challenge and want to try our hand at a new industry, market, or business. But it is important to remember that the way business leaders, C-suite, and high-end executives of companies go about this is very different to the way regular job seekers go about looking for a new role. Here are the top actions to take to attract the attention of headhunters:


This covers several key areas that are essential when it comes to attracting the attention of headhunters. The biggest part of visibility is networking. Attend as many events as possible in sectors or industries that are of interest to you and that you know your value in. Make sure you share your contact details and background information with as many people as you can. This way, you begin to profile yourself out in the market and clever headhunters will identify you as someone suitable for placement in an assignment they are working on.

There are small, but important tricks—like making sure your details and information are readily available on all of the attendee lists. Headhunters look at this information to research and learn more about who they plan to talk to. Wherever possible, try and have some sort of speaking engagement or other active participation at the event. This allows the room (and any headhunters there) to see you, your background, and your abilities in a snapshot.


This is the most powerful tool you can use when it comes to self-promotion and demonstrating your abilities out in the market. Be very active on LinkedIn—follow the right groups, post literature and articles that are on topic with the areas you are interested in working within, and demonstrate thought leadership. Don’t be afraid to write articles and share them, either on a blog or the posts for LinkedIn. This is a great way of demonstrating knowledge and allowing others to identify who you are.

Remember, headhunters are being paid by your potential future employer to find a good fit and to look at the information in the market to decide whether or not it suggests that the person they are engaging with would add value to the company.

Recruitment Consultant Versus Headhunter:

Your transition to your next role will be a disaster if you aren’t clear about the difference. While recruitment consultants place people into jobs, they do not do executive searches. They will not look into the details of a fit like a headhunter will and will certainly not be operating at the salary levels you expect to see with your experience and seniority.

Build a Relationship:

When a headhunter eventually does approach you, and you have clarified that they are indeed that (and not a recruitment consultant), then you need to focus on building a relationship with them as much as they focus on building one with you. The headhunter needs to get to know you, so they make sure they place you in the right role, at the right company, and deliver for their client. This will require coffees and even meals out and socializing—so that the headhunter can learn more about your achievements, personality, and goals for the future. Fit is everything here and a headhunter’s entire mandate is to find that person who fits their client’s expectations.

Keep Realistic Expectations:

It’s very important to know what you are worth—if you go into the market with unrealistic expectations, you will either be heavily under compensated or you will not find a new opportunity as you will have priced yourself out of the market. By this point in your career, you generally know what to expect, but it is possible to have an instance where you have performed so well that your remuneration in the next role could be significantly higher than anticipated.


You will never truly be a jobseeker again, at least not like you were in the beginning of your career. At this point, you have to play a much longer and far more calculated game that results in opportunity coming to you. It is very important to remain employed while going through this process, so avoid the temptation to leave your current company (or to not fulfill your duties at the level you typically do). Professionalism is essential in every step of your process, even and especially when it comes to failure—how you handle yourself as an executive is what defines you when it comes to your new role.

In your world, despite all the advances in technology and new ways of finding work, the recipe has not changed very much—being headhunted successfully is all still based on networking and solid relationships.

Written by Arran Stewart.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Success and Leadership - How To Get Headhunted (the Right Way)
Arran Stewart
Arran Stewart is the Co-Founder and CVO of blockchain-powered recruitment platform Arran has spent over a decade working to disrupt the recruitment industry with innovative, first-of-its-kind technology. His expertise on hiring, recruitment, technology, and macro job market trends has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Reuters, Wired, Fortune, and Nasdaq, among others.

Arran Stewart is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.