How to engage with a headhunter: Candidate Edition

Casper Palma

Well, now that most of us have survived and are fully vaccinated, we can focus on the business of your career/vocation. 2020 was hard on many advertising careers. The deluge of candidate inquiries to our Hot Jobs posts on LinkedIn far exceeded any other year in my 32-year career as a headhunter for creative agencies. As a result, I learned so many valuable lessons in the Year of the Pandemic.

If you follow your LinkedIn feed, you’ll read a lot about “recruiter ghosting.” I understand the desperation and frustration of talented folks whose careers are derailed by unforeseen forces. Recruiters don’t want to be “ghosts” (unless it’s Casper the Friendly Ghost). We want to help our clients, do right by candidates and make a little bit of dough.

So what are the best practices in engaging a headhunter? Since you’ve all asked, here’s my opine:

  • Don’t assume we keep up with our LinkedIn message inbox. Use email.
  • Do not text a recruiter. Better to call and leave a voicemail than text. Text is for friends, families & clients.The definition of “client” is “someone who pays you.”
  • Manage your expectations accordingly. Most good recruiters are straight-commission (even those that work on retainer). We’re trying to make a living too. We want to do the right thing (I think everyone does), but our job is to serve our clients.
  • Be memorable and humble (a tough balancing act). The best candidates have a humble swagger.
  • Stick to the two-minute drill. All communication, written and verbal, should not exceed a two-minute format.
  • Get a designer to do an infographic for your resume.
  • Make a 30-second video commercial for yourself.
  • Did I mention be memorable AND humble?
  • Do your homework on the recruiter to whom you are reaching out. Nothing more exasperating than candidates asking basic information available on profiles and websites (“Where are you located?”)
  • Be positive and apolitical. Obviously don’t whine about your predicament.
  • Trust your talent.
  • Be specific, not broad. Say, “I want this kind of job in these kinds of cities for that kind of money.” Not, “I’m open to anything.” Don’t chase a job you don’t want to do just because you need money.

We expect great things in our industry for the rest of ’21 and beyond. We seek top talent looking to make a move. Thanks for reading. Help us help you…thanks.

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