How to get Headhunted

Don’t go looking for the plum legal roles because you simply won’t find them. Instead, they’ll usually come looking for you.

Good employers know that the best senior lawyers are so busy running their practices that they don’t have time to trawl through job ads. They also like keeping strategic hires out of the public eye so the marketplace doesn’t catch on to what they’re doing and where they’re headed.

That’s why, when it comes to bringing in the big guns, they’ll use third party headhunters to track down, sound out and snare the best talent for themselves.

Headhunters don’t use a scattergun approach. Once they’ve been briefed they usually put feelers out via networks, compile a longlist, then meticulously research those candidates to see who’s likely to be a good fit. By the time they approach someone they pretty much know who they are, what they do and what their reputation is like.

So, if you want to be in their sights, there are six things you should be doing.

1. Think profile, profile, profile

You’ll never be headhunted if no one’s ever heard of you. So if you’re not already building a profile for yourself, start now.

Put yourself forward to speak on your areas of expertise wherever possible, especially for industry events or CPD. Check out Bulletpointsfor examples of content. If you’re not comfortable speaking in public, get coaching today.

Write about important issues and hot topics affecting your work and share these – not just via your firm’s newsletters but directly with your contacts on LinkedIn.

To ramp things up, join LinkedIn groups of like-minded people such as Australian Legal Community and start contributing. Consider publishing in industry journals – or better still, form relationships with journalists so that you’re quoted in the business or mainstream press as an expert in your field.

2. Get LinkedIn working for you

What a headhunter will look for, apart from your skills, experience and personality is whether your practice complements their client’s. Make sure your LinkedIn profile provides specific details of the projects you’ve worked on and the value you brought. (Without breaching client confidentiality, of course). Headhunters want to know you have worked on the same kind of matters the client has briefed them about. So don’t be shy about blowing your own horn.

3. Give off subtle signals

Speaking of which, don’t go and change your LinkedIn status to ‘Currently seeking new opportunities’. But you can start giving off some signals that you’re looking to move.

All good headhunters will have software telling them when their contacts make certain changes to their profile. You should consider updating your experience, adding new projects and changing Inmailsettings to notify users that you are open to “career opportunities”.

4. Make yourself contactable

While gatekeeping receptionists can be great at shielding you from overseas telemarketing calls, they can act as a block for headhunters who want to sound you out. So make yourself easy to contact by including your mobile number and personal email address on your LinkedIn profile. If a headhunter struggles to reach you, they may bypass you and run the opportunity by the next person on their list.

And, if a headhunter calls and you can’t speak freely, set a time to chat when you’re out of the office. This also gives you a chance to check out their LinkedIn profile to see whether you want to deal with them.

5. Don’t breach etiquette

Don’t tell anyone in your firm – and I mean anyone – about your plans to move, even once you’ve been approached. If the headhunting process isn’t handled discreetly, you’re likely to jeopardise your current position as well as any new one.

If a headhunter alerts you to an opportunity never approach the employer directly. Not only will your overtures be met with blank stares, you’ll be seen as disloyal. They’re using a headhunter for a reason.

6. But don’t be afraid

If a headhunter does reach out to you, don’t be afraid to milk them for their expertise. It never hurts to know the state of the market and have a trusted source of intelligence, especially around salary review time. Besides, even if the specific opportunity they wanted to talk about isn’t right for you at this time, something may hit their desk in the near future.

Finally, if you’ve noticed that they’ve looked at your LinkedIn profile drop them a line to find out why. Headhunting can be a slow dance of missed calls, profile views and unnoticed messages sitting in your Gmail account. So, if you’re open to a move, make sure you keep your end up too.

And there you have it, 6 steps that will bring you closer to being headhunted.

If you’d like to find out more contact Jason Elias ([email protected])

Jason runs Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs and corporate inhouse teams.

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