Want to be ‘Headhunted’? Here’s How!

Part 2 of 3


Skip Freeman

Professional ‘Headhunter’


Editor’s Note: In Part 1 of this three-part series entitled “Branding Yourself to be ‘Headhunted,'” veteran professional “headhunter” and international best-selling job-hunting book author Skip Freeman dispelled a number of common myths about “headhunters”: That they are not “employment agencies”; That they are not “career counselors”; and That they are not in the business of “finding people jobs.” He also emphasised that virtually ALL “headhunters” concentrate their recruiting efforts in a very specific market niche, e.g., chemical sales, advertising, IT, finance, etc.  That means that, in order to generate any degree of interest from a “headhunter,” a candidate must first be in the “headhunter’s” market niche(s). In Part 2, Freeman tells today’s job seekers—provided they meet certain criteria—how they can get on the “headhunter’s” “radar.”

As a job seeker, having a professional “headhunter” help you prepare your candidacy and then present you to appropriate hiring managers and the companies they represent can provide you with a tremendous advantage over your “competitors,” i.e., other job seekers. But, in order to attract a “headhunter’s” attention, to get on his or her “radar,” you’ll first have to be branded as being  among “the best of the best” in your professional field of endeavour because that’s the group of candidates that is getting the better jobs in today’s extremely challenging job market. You’ll also have to exhibit, as a minimum, FOUR key characteristics. You must be . . . 

  • Findable
  • Desirable
  • Contactable
  • Selectable

 Let’s examine each of these characteristics in detail.

 Be Findable

You’re probably familiar with the adage that goes like this: “It’s not what you know, but who you know” when it comes to getting a job. In today’s Topsy-turvy job market that adage has become, “It’s not what you know or who you know, but rather, who knows you and can you be found!”

In order to be found, then, I strongly advise you to develop and tightly control your professional information at four primary Internet locations:

  • LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com)
  • ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com)
  • Jigsaw (www.jigsaw.com) 
  • Google – Your résumé and Google profiles (www.google.com)


If you are reading this blog it is quite likely that you are already on LinkedIn, by far the most widely used and respected professional networking site on the Internet. While a detailed analysis of the many facets and professional advantages LinkedIn offers you is beyond the scope of this blog, I do invite you to link in with me: http://www.linkedin.com/in/skipfreeman. By linking in with me you can expand your “second-degree” network by over 11,500 and by over two million in your “third-degree” network. Obviously, this will substantially increase your probability of being found!


To learn more about this very useful site, check out my May 14, 2011, blog entitled, “The SECOND Most Used Website by Recruiters and Companies” at this link. In that blog I did a thorough review of ZoomInfo and examined what a job seeker needs to do in order to input, manage and control his or her professional information on the site.


This is another of the top databases on the Web. It is also widely used daily by “headhunters” to find TOP candidates. Are you on Jigsaw?


(Your résumé) The fourth primary site we “headhunters” use to find TOP candidates is Google.  Google’s algorithm is such that PowerPoint presentations are readily indexed and often rise to the top in searches. So, if you put your résumé into a PowerPoint presentation and upload it to the Internet via SlideShare (www.slideshare.com), you can further increase your probability of being found. 

(Google Profiles) Control your overall Internet presence by taking advantage of Google Profiles (http://profiles.google.com). Not only will “headhunters” search for candidates on Google, they also will oftentimes come across your name from a referral or while doing other research. Plus, nearly always, if the “headhunter” has any interest in you as a candidate, the first thing he or she will do is “Google” your name, in order to quickly reveal if anything relevant—or NEGATIVE!—is returned in the search. Make sure your Google profiles are up to date and accurate!

Be Desirable

Assuming that you have in fact been found, the next step in the “headhunter’s” decision process is to determine if you are desirable as a candidate. Generally, that means that you must have branded yourself as someone who is in the TOP 20% of all candidates! (One of the “inside jokes” among “headhunters” is that we are paid by our client companies to help them hire someone in the TOP 20% of ALL candidates and protect them against the rest!)

Essentially, you will be perceived, at least initially, as a potential TOP 20% candidate if you have accomplished the following, with the “proof” being contained, primarily, in your résumé:

  • You must clearly have branded yourself as someone who gets results.
  • You must clearly have branded yourself as someone with the qualities, background and professional skills and experience who will immediately and thoroughly address—and meet!—the specific need(s) of a hiring company.

NOTE: Employers no longer hire “generic” employees and haven’t for a number of years. They hire only people who have clearly and unmistakably branded themselves as someone who can make an immediate and ever-increasing contribution to the organisation!

Be Contactable

Even though I have been in the executive recruiting business for nearly a decade now, and little that I encounter these days really surprises me any longer, I must admit that I continue to be amazed—no, make that astounded!—at how extremely difficult some candidates make it to contact them! For example, sometimes the candidate will have checked the box “Not open to receiving introductions or InMail” on LinkedIn! (Can you believe that?!) Or, perhaps they have changed their email address or cell phone number and haven’t bothered to update that information in important places where they have their professional information posted online. Or—and this is an oft occurring situation!—they never both to check their email or voice mail, or at least they don’t check it on a very frequent basis.

Why is it so crucial to ensure that your contact information is kept absolutely current and accurate? It’s important to keep in mind that, if a “headhunter” actually takes the time to contact you, the career opportunities that he or she wants to discuss with you are the GEMS, those jobs not readily available to the typical job seeker. They truly can be “once-in-a-lifetime” career opportunities! But, if you can’t even be contacted. . . .

Be Selectable

Imagine for a moment that tomorrow you get a call from a “headhunter.” Is he or she calling to offer you a job? Of course not. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. Is the “headhunter” trying to sell you something, or to get a fee from you? Absolutely not! The “headhunter’s” client is the hiring company, not a candidate (an important distinction to keep in mind). If the “headhunter” agrees to present a candidate for a position, his or her professional services cost the candidate absolutely nothing! The hiring company pays the “headhunter’s” fee, if he or she successfully places a candidate with the company.

The primary goal of the “headhunter” during this initial call is to try and determine, as quickly as possible, if you are a candidate that the “headhunter” would like to add to his or her “inner circle,” as someone he or she may want to consider for future, appropriate career opportunities. In other words, the “headhunter” is attempting to determine if you are selectable.

If you are at all interested in availing yourself of the wide variety of professional services and the very valuable assistance that a good “headhunter” can offer you, I strongly advise you to field his or her call with the care and consideration it deserves. It is presupposed that the “headhunter” already has identified you as a TOP candidate or you wouldn’t be getting the call in the first place. Don’t “blow it” by projecting a lazy, lackluster—or worse, rude!—attitude during the call. Consider this call as vitally important to your future career success as a call from a hiring manager could be!

I am quite aware that all the considerations I have outlined in this blog for a candidate to be in a position to be “headhunted” represent a rather steep hill to climb. There is a reason for that. A true “headhunter” earns a fee from a hiring company only after successfully placing a TOP 20% candidate with the company. So, what he or she does to select, then to successfully market, a candidate must be viable, it must work! Otherwise, guess who else would soon be looking for a new job?! That’s the principal reason “headhunters” are so very, very selective when it comes to candidates. On the other hand, if you are indeed a TOP 20% candidate, and if a “headhunter” contacts you and agrees to work with you during your job search, you can reap tremendous rewards and benefits from working with a good “headhunter”!

Are you doing the right things to brand yourself as a prime candidate to be “headhunted”?

Coming up in the final part of this three-part series: BECOMING A PART OF A “HEADHUNTER’S” “INNER CIRCLE”



Skip Freeman, author of the international best-selling job hunting book “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed 400 executive search assignments in just eight years, consistently placing him in the Top 20% of all “headhunters” in the U.S. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, where he later was also an instructor, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

Visit or contact Skip at his book website, http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com