Thought
Leadership

How to impress the headhunter: Andrew Kris in conversation with Anthony Harling provide the clues.

March 15, 2021
Borderless Leadership - article

Anthony Harling
Andrew, we’re talking about impressing the headhunter. You’ve met thousands of candidates over the years, I’m sure. I’m interested to know, what makes somebody stand out. What do you notice about the people that you meet? And what makes them special?

Andrew Kris
You’re meeting another person for a conversation when you meet a headhunter. Not an interrogation. So prepare for a conversation. I’m here to get to know you and work with you to help you get the best out of your career. However, my job is to make sure that my client meets the person needed right now for his business. So help me out. If you get in touch with us pro-actively, please do not send a generic, impersonal mail ‘to whom it may concern’, goes straight to the bin. It’s just not polite and shows a careless, unthinking approach. Please be specific, write directly to a consultant who is working in your area of expertise, you will will be more likely to get his or her attention.

Anthony Harling
If I’m a candidate for a role and I’m meeting a headhunter for the first time, how much preparation should I be doing in advance of the meeting?

Andrew Kris
What you should not be doing is rehearsing your resume. You should prepare for a lucid conversation about yourself and the kind of things that interest you, in life and in business, not a rehash of your resume. Come for an open conversation.

Anthony Harling
Is it true there’s no such thing as over-preparation? Can over-preparation be negative?

Andrew Kris
It can be, I want to find out about you who you are as a person. That’s my number one objective; what you’ve done – I can read that in your resume and by all means introduce it. But what I’m interested in is to get to know who you are, what you do, what makes you tick, and what your personal ambitions are. Tell me about your background and what brings you here. While you’re at it, perhaps look up my career history, we may have some things in common that will make for a more stimulating conversation. If you’re coming in to talk about a specific opportunity or a specific client, then of course do the background reading. But you would do that ahead of any business discussion wouldn’t you? Why would this one be any different? If you’re going to invest a couple of hours of your life in having a conversation about a position, then you should do your homework.

Anthony Harling
Absolutely. It’s like any investment. Andrew, what are your pet hates?

Andrew Kris
Pretence – about who you are. So please be yourself. The real you becomes very apparent very quickly. We do know how to get to the real ‘you’. If you are right for the role we are discussing, fantastic. If you’re not, well, don’t waste your life on this, go and do something else. So please be yourself. don’t try to be the person you think we may be looking for.

Anthony Harling
When we engage with headhunters, I sometimes find that there are people who are a little too slick in their preparation. In other words, they’ve got it all pre-packaged. It smacks of low confidence. Whereas somebody who is at ease with who they are is more willing to open up and talk more freely about themselves.

Andrew Kris
A candid, open discussion generates mutual respect. This ‘reciprocity’ is a key factor in relationships and in leadership, isn’t it? And to have a reciprocal relationship, you need to give of yourself, as well as take from others. So openness and a candid approach is absolutely key to the right conversation and gaining the attention of the headhunter. I have found that more experienced, successful executives tend to be more relaxed, more open, more willing and able to have a mutually informative discussion. And of course, a discussion is two-way, right? Very often, you can be so busy telling your story that you actually forget to ask relevant questions. That’s a mistake. Again, that’s not a conversation.

Anthony Harling
It’s really a process of due diligence on both sides, isn’t it?

Andrew Kris
Absolutely. Your job as a candidate is to imagine yourself in the role and picture what the next few years will look like. Try to understand what you’re getting into. Remember, that the headhunter likely has experience of the client and understands the realities of the role, warts and all. And if you are the right person, you should be inquisitive enough to discover that, and show that you are ready to handle the realities of the situation you will be moving into.

Anthony Harling
If I’m meeting you, Andrew, to talk about a job, what are some of the obvious questions that I should be asking?

Andrew Kris
What’s it like to work in this place? Who are the people that you’ve met? Why would I want to work here given what you know of me so far?

Anthony Harling
What about the expectations of the role?

Andrew Kris
What is your client expecting me to do? How am I going to be measured in my first year? These are critical questions that you should get clear answers to in a constructive, open conversion with your headhunter.

Andrew Kris is a founding partner of Borderless.
Anthony Harling is a founder and director of Not Actively Looking

Are you ready for a stimulating conversation and sound advice? Send a message to Andrew Kris: andrew.kris@borderless.net

Send this to a friend