In our Download Center you will find useful templates and checklists for a successful application.
Before you do anything, make sure you solidify your personal brand in your own mind. How do you want to be perceived by the headhunter? For instance, you may want to be viewed as an IT security expert with a wealth of experience, passion for new technologies, plus an affinity for leading other people. Have this clear in your mind and ensure that it translates as you proceed with each of the next steps.
Now check that your online profiles, for instance on Xing and LinkedIn, are all up to date and aligned with your personal brand - from your job title, to your skills and experience. Take this opportunity to make sure you have a professional looking photo on your profile, and that you haven’t made any mistakes or spelling errors.
You should also check the privacy settings on your personal social media accounts and ensure that there’s nothing inappropriate to be found. Remember, social media is one of the main tools headhunters use to find out more about potential candidates. Make sure you use it to your advantage.
Grow your online presence in order to show off your expertise. There are myriad ways to do this, from writing blogs to getting involved in industry discussions on forums. Volunteer yourself for interviews with industry publications, offer to speak at events, basically get out there and share your knowledge, making sure you are constantly channeling your inner personal brand.
You can also boost your (online) reputation by drawing attention to the achievements which reflect your expertise, e.g. by adding them to your “Accomplishments” section on Xing or LinkedIn. If you haven’t already, you can also find out about interesting awards for your job title and your team and whether it is worth participating in a competition, for example. These types of accolades can generate great industry press coverage, bringing headhunters one step closer to finding you.
Build some valuable face-to-face relationships, starting with your current and former colleagues. Make sure you have an ongoing professional rapport with them, treat everyone with respect and never burn your bridges – you never know who knows who.
You should also make the effort to develop new business contacts. Go to events and make sure your name, title and company is on the attendee list. Scan this list yourself beforehand, and ask the host to introduce you to potentially useful contacts. Remember to bring up-to-date business cards, take the cards of people you meet, and stay in contact afterwards.
Headhunting is a subtle art, thus it’s important to be able to actually tell when you are being headhunted so you can either carry on with the conversation, or politely cut it short.
You will most likely be contacted by phone or via email, Xing or LinkedIn. Rather than disclosing information about the position, they will try to arrange a meeting or another phone conversation with you to discuss this classified information further.
In short, a headhunter needs to know who you are, what you have to offer and where to find you. The above steps contribute to this. Now it's up to you to build your brand!