As a headhunter since 2011 and now as owner of my own recruitment firm, DG Recruit, I have had the pleasure of placing hundreds of professionals in roles ranging from senior to executive positions nationally.
Here are a few things recruiters and hiring managers know that job seekers don’t.
1. All basic qualifications having been met, likability trumps all
What this means is that the B and C students have just as good a chance at making it in life than A+ students – and it’s not the most talented and technically-savvy engineer who eventually becomes the CTO; in fact, it’s usually the most politically admired and personally connected candidate that wins and progresses into the C-suite.
Of course, basic qualifications are important to even be considered a feasible candidate, but success is usually dictated more by one’s ability to influence, actively listen, and respond appropriately, their level of social etiquette, and their general level of acceptedness by their peers and superiors.
In order to be more likable, read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. In sales roles like mine, and certainly for any enterprising professional who wants to progress into senior leadership roles, learn how to ask open questions sincerely to drive conversations with anyone. Be genuinely vested in others’ lives, sufferings, wins, and emotional state. By empathizing, remembering personal details, and creating conversation consistently, you’ll win over the hearts of anyone you endeavor to build a relationship with.
2. HR people actually are not that important in the hiring hierarchy
As a headhunter, surprisingly, the HR person is the last person on my list of any importance. As a job-seeker, you should understand that the person who really controls the chessboard is the hiring manager or department head – the actual person in charge of the future hire.
The hiring manager dictates everything! Who to interview, what price to pay them, who to hire, and which headhunters to utilize. As long as the real boss, the hiring manager, likes you, you’re about 90 percent of the way to an offer letter.
No matter what role you’re in, you can find hiring managers on LinkedIn by experimenting with the search fields. You can type the company name in the filter and then type in “manager” or “director” of a certain role, like “java development.” If that doesn’t turn up anything, then delete the keyword. You can narrow the list by geographic range; similarly, you can find more relevant contacts by looking at the right-hand column called “People also viewed” and opening a new tab in your browser.
- Keep track of your activities on every contact through an Excel sheet where you design the columns to display Company name, First Name, Last Name, Role/Title, and Your Actions to take notes of what you’ve done.
- Be careful. If you directly reach out to hiring managers, you risk being caught looking, since your manager may also know whom you’re soliciting. They may have backdoor conversations about you – and if you directly reach out to firms, headhunters will be unable to represent you to those companies for a period of a year.
- That’s why you’re best off contacting recruiters first by utilizing LinkedIn, job boards, and referral sources to find the best recruiters in your space. Once you fully map out which recruiters represent which firms and what the word on the street is, then you know which companies you should utilize recruiters for, and which firms you can get after yourself.
3. You can negotiate and leverage other offers to great effect
Many candidates are so afraid of upsetting prospective employers that they feel bad for disclosing where else they’re interviewing at or how much money they actually want. For many people in high-demand labor markets where the supply of jobs outstrip candidates available, the candidate actually holds a LOT more power than employers do.
Candidates should definitely negotiate and be transparent about exactly which other offers they’re juggling and when deadlines approach. If handled appropriately, this will increase employers’ desire for you, not penalize you for “looking greedy” or “not interested.” It’s simply reflective of the competitive labor landscape in which firms must fight for top talent.
In today’s world, it’s all about the etiquette and manner in which you communicate. If you present an articulate, fact-of-the-matter case as to why your demands are as such, people respect you rather than dislike you. After all, it’s a given right for a worker to demand their just wages.