Make recruiters come to you: Twelve tips to get yourself headhunted

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Sick of searching for your ideal job? Want recruiters to reach out to you instead? Here's what you can do to increase your chances of being headhunted.

1) Remember: It's just as important in the back office

In the past it was much easier to catch a recruiter's eye if you had a high-profile role in the front office and were referred thanks to your strong performance, says David Rolleston, managing director, Melbourne, Charterhouse Partnership. "If you worked behind the scenes on special projects, or in the back office, your name was much harder to find."

The internet has changed all this. Back and middle-office candidates must be just as clued up about headhunting as their revenue-generating colleagues.

2) Google yourself

Before you do anything else, put yourself in the shoes of a headhunter who's trying to find you on the net. "A great way to start is checking your online profile by googling yourself," says Rolleston. If you can't find yourself or the results are patchy, you have some work to do.

3) Build your online profile

Headhunters are increasingly using professional networking sites during their search process, says Frank Fucile, partner, Alex Kaar. "Having up-to-date and meaningful profiles can raise your chances of being headhunted for confidential searches."

4) Show off your achievements

Like your CV, your online profile should not just be a boring list of your job titles and tasks. Make sure you include details about projects and achievements, while avoiding disclosing confidential information, says Brendon Booth, director, pb Human Capital.

5) Use updating as a subtle reminder

It helps to update your profile on professional networking sites fairly regularly because each time you do, your whole network is alerted, says Booth. Just be careful not to state explicitly that you're currently looking for a new position.

6) Open up

Recruiters get frustrated by potential candidates who keep their profiles hidden. "Also make sure that your profile is open to receiving communication, otherwise all that effort will go to waste. Link to as many industry people as you can," adds Booth.

7) Become a groupie

Don't just have an online profile, join online groups and actively comment and start discussions within them, says Rolleston. Huw Thomas, director, Thomas Frost Executive, adds: "If you want to work in leveraged finance and have a transferable skill set, but haven't actually worked in leveraged finance, join LCD leveraged loan group etc."

8) Get more media savvy

Proactively write commentaries in the media on topics where you have a right to call yourself an 'expert'. "You'd be amazed at how often expert comments are sought after," says Booth.

9) Network, even if you hate it

Booth adds: "You know all those networking functions that you thought only the brown-nosers attended and that you were too busy for? And then notice how those brown-nosers seem to get promoted ahead of you? Enough said."

10) Use your alumni allies

Attend your high school and university Alumni meetings. "There are dozens of formal and informal networking groups specifically for banking and finance professionals and there will be one or two key people at each event worth talking to," says Booth.

11) Make it easy for colleagues to find and refer you

"If you have a corporate intranet site that enables you to categorise skills, past careers, and contact details, you might want to make sure yours are up to date and easy to find for your colleagues," recommends one headhunter, who ask not to be named.

12) Register with two or three good recruiters

Being on the books of headhunters will of course greatly increase the chances that they'll come to you when they get a new mandate. "Candidates who remain open to having career discussions, even when not active in the market, are more likely to form healthy relationships with headhunters and hence always be front of mind when opportunities arise," says Fucile

But don't spread yourself too thin. It's advisable to only register with two or three firms and to choose headhunters who are experts in your job function. "Make the time to meet them. At worst, it's a cup of coffee with someone who makes you pay. At best, it's someone who is plugged into the very market you want to access and who can assist on a longer-term basis," says Thomas.

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