The Headhunter Advantage
The only time in your professional career that you want to be in the firing line is when a headhunter is taking aim and you’re in his line of sight. Being headhunted is sought after by those wanting to build a long-term career. It’s the equivalent of a corporate Oscar, giving you instant corporate “cred” where it matters most – the office cafeteria.
The fact that you may have been headhunted is somewhat enchanting in the increasingly competitive professional arena. Here, the right type of accomplishment influences, not only your bonus, but your parking spot as well (which, incidentally has become a silent indicator of how high up the ladder you really are). Curious right? Even more curious is the fact that, like most reality TV stars who are famous for being famous, professionals are now no longer being actively “hunted” – they have become the hunters.
Technology is to blame, as it is for almost all things undesirable. Technology has short-circuited hunting season forever. All that is now required of a semi-competent headhunter, is to go online, preface the word “professional” with the words “leading”, “top”, “achieving”, and… voilà… job done! Although I agree that it’s somewhat necessary (if not mandatory in this current economic climate) to use social media sites to get noticed, I believe one should be wary of being over-exposed. I also suggest being careful when citing your current role, experience, and responsibilities as bait in the hopes of getting a hit. Headhunters are looking for some magnetism, not expectation. There is nothing remotely rewarding about a predictable hunt.
So, what is the alternative in this scenario?
I believe the secret is in laying low. Lay low on self-promotion and be high on service. Even though the idea is to get “discovered”, there still needs to be a hunt! The lure is not necessarily in how many videos or blogs you post, but rather in how you are being of service on those platforms. How are you using your talent to influence your industry or immediate environment in a unique way? What is it that you are contributing that makes you worth investing in? If you want to jump the cappuccino-machine queue, you need to have some serious mocha!
Highly-regarded professionals are most often those that go about their business by doing what they love and doing it well. These are the individuals who get asked to participate in task teams that are not necessarily role-aligned. They are included purely because they enjoy their work, they get on well with others, and they deliver – every time.
If you can back up your online presence with offline results – then, you’re headhuntable!
I’m not suggesting that those who have mastered the art of differentiating themselves by contributing to relevant platforms, networking, finding powerful sponsors, and positioning themselves for the next best role won’t get ahead – they will, and they do. There is no right or wrong approach. I am, however, more inclined to recommend someone who has enough emotional intelligence to understand that being wanted is more powerful than being noticed.
Most employers do not know who they want to hire until they meet them. Having a public profile might get you that coveted interview and possibly even a position, but employers are looking for more than the minimum requirements. Often they can’t tell you what “more” looks like until it’s staring them straight in the face. This is where service becomes so vital.
When you are busy sharing your talents with others, when your resourcefulness changes the lives of those around you, and when you commit time to your cause, you’ll sometimes feel that you’re too busy to be enchanting… that is, until you get headhunted and realise that you are!