Dealing with headhunt calls

Tips on dealing with headhunt calls

1. You may already have been there. A headhunter calls you while you're at work. You may be excited about the potential of a new job or you may be nervous about others at your company overhearing your conversation. Either way, you need to be prepared to handle the call professionally and courteously.

2. There are a few things you can do to prepare for the headhunter calls that will come to most anyone in the world of law today. Following some basic guidelines will help you respond to the call in a way that creates a long-term relationship with a valuable resource for job searchers whether it's today or some time in the future that you need this resource.


4. ASK THE HEADHUNTER HIS FULL NAME AND HIS ORGANISATIONS NAME AND WEBSITE. If he is not prepared to be up front with you, it is legitimate to question the professionalism and ethics of the person approaching you. This is your career, it is important that you only entrust it to professionals!

5. When a headhunter calls, it's always best to make sure that you are in a location where you can talk without fear of jeopardising your current job. If necessary, ask for a phone number and name and explain that you would like to pursue the discussion but that now is not a good time. Headhunters are used to this and they expect this to happen. Determine a time that is mutually agreeable for you to follow-up with a call to the headhunter or have him call you at a specified time and number.

6. Remember that this is the first impression the headhunter has of you and how you handle the call and respond is important.


Great is the power of habit. It teaches us to bear fatigue and to despise wounds and pain

Marcus Tullius Cicero

8. Whether you are interested in the job or not, it is advisable to learn more about the opportunity. Worse case scenario, you have found out a little more about the market you work in and what your competitors are doing.

9. You may find that it is an appealing idea to you although you had not previously considered changing jobs. Headhunters are trained to be discreet and confidential so discussions you have will be kept between the two of you.

10. Ask about the specifics of the job, location, amount of travel required, reason for the opening, and other questions you may have. Find out how the headhunter received your name and what interested him in your experience and skills.

ARE YOU INTERESTED? If you are possibly interested in the job, let the headhunter know and find out the next steps in the process. Be sure to understand the timeline he is working under.
Be available. Once you’ve agreed to submit your resume for a particular position, make yourself available for interviews. Although it can sometimes be time-consuming, being too difficult to schedule potentially sends a message to a prospective employer that you’re not interested in the position.

Is everyone on board? Be sure to discuss career moves with family members who would be impacted by a change, or whose voices count in your decision-making process. Don’t get to the offer stage before you discuss relocating with your spouse.

Disclosure. If you have submitted your resume to other firms or companies, and by all means, if you are currently interviewing for a different position than the one for which you’ve been contacted, disclose this information up front. No one likes surprises, especially the firm or company that may be about to make you an offer.

Stay in touch. Check in from time to time with legal recruiters to develop a relationship.

11. If you absolutely know that you would not consider the job for any reason, then politely decline the opportunity for further discussion. Do not lead the headhunter on and waste valuable time for either of you. Let him know that you are appreciative and flattered by the call but that this job or timing is not good for you right now. Ask him to keep your contact information available for potential future jobs.

12. Be sure to collect the callers contact information for your future use. You can also use this information to send him a thank-you note for contacting you and remind him to keep you in mind for future opportunities.

13. When a headhunter calls you, your reaction and the way you handle the phone call could make or break a fabulous job offer or career change. Always be considerate, polite and professional to everyone who calls you on the phone, whether it is a business or personal call. When you use courteous phone etiquette it is appreciated by the caller and it shows that you are a true business professional.

In everything truth surpasses the imitation and copy

Marcus Tullius Cicero

14. If you are content in your current job position, then politely end the conversation with the headhunter and let them know that you are not interested a career change at this time. Thank them for their time and consideration. Be sure to keep the phone conversation positive, as you don't want to create a bad impression. You might even ask them for their name and contact information and let them know that if your status should change down the road and you find yourself looking for a new job, you would like to contact them. Or, you may want to have them keep you on their calling list and ask them to contact you in another six months to a year.

15. On the other hand, if you are looking for a different job and are seeking a career change or some industry advice, then you should let the headhunter know that you are very interested in having a nice, informative phone conversation with them. However, you should not take company time to talk with them. Arrange to have them call you back during your lunch hour or after work. Or better yet, get their name and number and call them back at your earliest convenience on your own time.

16. No matter how you handle the call from a headhunter, you should always take it as the ultimate form of flattery. A headhunter is looking for the best candidate to fill a position they have available. They want you because they have researched your career path and you have a good reputation. You should also remember that in many instances the headhunter has been specifically asked to contact you on behalf of a client.

17. Headhunters are not advocating that everyone they call needs to change jobs. What they are advocating is you taking the time to listen to what they have to say. Then, with all relevant information provided to you, you can make an informed decision.

18. Also keep in mind that inevitably, when the shoe is on the other foot and you need to contact the headhunter to let them know it is time for you to change jobs, you will want them to listen. Extend to them the same courtesy and you will get far more calls when the best positions become available in the future. Also keep in mind that some of these opportunities do not make it to the market.

19. If you don't do anything else, just take the call. If you are busy, give the headhunter your mobile phone number or email address so they can contact you at a better time and tell you why they are calling. Even in this day and age when everything is about the proverbial "me", perhaps you may know of someone who does need a little help and encouragement and perhaps the headhunter is calling with the perfect opportunity for that person. It may not directly benefit you but it will indirectly benefit you by making you feel good and by establishing another network contact you can have available in the future.