Getting Prepared for When a Headhunter Calls

Life and work goes on, even in a recessionary environment. The Executive Search industry will pick up months before there is any noticeable, sustained improvement in the economic environment in South Africa. Companies will be appointing search firms to find the executive skills that they will need in order to prepare to meet the rising business demand and stay ahead of the competition.

When you receive a call to discuss your interest in a new career opportunity, be aware that the reason for the call is also to assess your suitability for it.

While the discussion that you have with the Consultant on the telephone is extremely important, your CV will be asked for. This document is your calling card, it defines who you are to an Executive Search Consultant. Set it out clearly and coherently.

If you do not already have a well thought and laid-out CV then read on.

The Do's

  • Do break the information into three categories: Personal Information; Educational Information; and Career History (all of it).
  • Do ensure that you have the chronology of your career from leaving High School to your current role.  If you have gaps in your career then state the dates and the situation. We understand that things happen in people's lives over which they have no control (and if you chose to have a three year sabbatical in a tropical paradise then we are, frankly, quite envious)
  • Do have a brief CV with everything laid out clearly and concisely over three to four pages and then have a second document where you flesh it out with more detail, particularly in your more recent roles
  • In the fuller document do demonstrate the breadth of your experience but be concise, the longer CV should ideally not be more than six pages long
  • Do think about the achievements you have had during your career and provide a concise and meaningful list of bulleted points
  • Do provide an idea of the scale of your staff and financial responsibility in each role
  • Do use Microsoft Word as the document format (if we have to grapple for fifteen minutes with a document that defiantly refuses to open without the intervention of the IT department, it does not make for a good start to our relationship with you)
  • Do leave off a front page with your name on it. We know that everyone does it and yes, it does look nice, but it is unnecessary. If just a few trees are saved every year by us not having to print that one unnecessary page, it will have been worth making you crossly switch to your document (which is in Word isn't it?) and delete the front page.
  • Do use a confidential e-mail address to communicate with us

The Do Not’s

  • Do not have graphics or special effects on your CV. We once received a migraine-inducing CV from an outstanding individual. It had a colourful border which moved and flashed like a takeaway restaurant sign. A good CV could be passed over because of such clutter.
  • Do not leave off the early part of your career, so you moved 10 times between the age of 24 and 30, you are not alone. If information appears to be missing, we get paranoid.
  • Do not use obscure or ancient computer formats. The recipient of your CV is under pressure. When the message 'unknown format' comes up, it is severely frowned upon. Microsoft Word is the way to go.
  • Do not password protect your document and expect us to phone you for the password. Use a confidential e-mail address which you can get on the internet.

Once you are on our confidential database we will be able to match you up with potential opportunities as they arise.

Don't be offended if you are not invited for a face-to-face meeting with us. Keep in mind that as an Executive Search Firm we are client driven. Our ability to assist you is based on the positions that we are appointed to work on. We will not take up your time (and, admittedly, ours) and meet with you unless we have a definite role that we would like to discuss with you. We will make contact with you directly when a position arises that we feel will be suitable and of interest to you and take things from there.

This is the start of a long-term relationship with you.