by Dr. Catherine Armstrong
Headhunting, or employers recruiting third parties to offer jobs to employees of other companies, is common in the commercial sector but it is occasionally part of the recruitment process in the public sector too, especially for those senior positions or hard-to-recruit posts. This article offers some advice on how to cope with such situation when you are headhunted and how to make the best of the opportunities on offer.
1. That awkward phone call!
Many of us now have to work in open-plan offices so one of the main problems you will face as a jobseeker is lack of workplace privacy. It can be incredibly difficult to manage a headhunting call when you have colleagues or your boss within earshot. The best thing to do is be as vague as possible on the telephone but ask him or her to call you back at home later or on your mobile when you are out on your lunch break. Don't engage them in long conversation when others are listening in on it, but try to make it sound as you are getting rid of a sales call instead.
2. Be secretive
Having to be furtive and even lying outright is not in many people's natures. However you must protect yourself by keeping your intentions secretly for as long as possible. Your current employer could make it difficult for you if you have been talking to other employers who may even be from competitors. Some employers now use anti-poaching techniques such as controlling internal communications to prevent other companies stealing their employees. So it is vital to play things carefully. Always try to speak to the headhunter outside your place of work if at all possible.
It is also important not to use office stationary or faxes or photocopiers to apply for jobs or copy CVs and never use your office email account to communicate with other companies.
3. Do not be flattered into a decision you will regret
Yes, it's wonderful to be wanted. The first time you get that headhunting phone call you will probably feel elated and as though you have ‘made it' in your field. However be careful because headhunters play on this. They will use psychological tactics to try to flatter you into accepting an offer that might not be as good as it first seems. So don't let your pleasure at being approached cloud your judgement.
4. Assessing the offer
You have to compare the offer given to your current job but it is also important to remember that if one company has head-hunted you then many more might follow, so do not necessarily take the first offer that comes along. Things to think about, as with any job offer, include salary, distance from home, hours required, working conditions, company reputation and who you will be working with. It is vital not to make a snap decision before you have had time to discuss your options with your partner, family and friends.
5. Bide your time
If you arrived at work that morning with no intention of changing jobs and then suddenly an offer came out of the blue to make you consider your options, try to keep things in perspective. If your current job satisfies you financially and spiritually and offers you a good future, then don't automatically get seduced by other companies. Knowing when it's time for a career change takes a lot of thought and is often something that people come to realise gradually. Making a sudden decision might not be in your best interests so take things slowly and assess all your options. You may discover by investigating what others have to offer that your ideal job is the one you have now!