A Quick Refresher on Working with Headhunters

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As financial professionals begin planning their next moves, getting the attention of headhunters, those gatekeepers to top positions, can be a challenge. What to do? Be actively involved in your industry, get recommendations from colleagues, and know how to interact with recruiters.

According to the Financial Times:

- Put your self out there. It's the most important thing you can do, Clive Davis, a director at Robert Half, told the newspaper. Become a "go to" person, by "attending industry events and being a spokesperson for your company," he says.

- Project a positive attitude and look beyond your current job. You can avoid becoming stagnant by seeking out networking activities and opportunities outside your company. In short, take risks and try new things.

- Obtain recommendations. Headhunters can get can an honest assessment of your work from third parties. Are you regarded as a great boss - or worked for one? Headhunters value positive feedback from people you've supervised, and success working for a rock star boss can serve as a path to becoming a top executive.

- Fine Tune Your Approach: Catching the eye of a headhunter is as much about style as it is talent. Carole Stone, author of The Ultimate Guide to Successful Networking, told FT that people seeking a move should "gently drop hints and sow the seeds." Professional and alumni groups represent a great way to network. Be vociferous about your desire to make a move.

- Meet with a headhunter: Clearly articulate your career objectives and the type of work you'd like to do. Use examples to highlight work experience with an eye toward making an impression.

Treat a meeting with a headhunter as you would any networking opportunity, and view the relationship as long-term. You may not be discussing your dream job today, but headhunters can provide contacts and referrals that can lead you to the right job down the road.

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