Why headhunters don’t answer your emails or calls

  • Post published:13/07/2022
  • Reading time:5 mins read

17My story starts like this: Once upon a time when I was a candidate myself. But there is nothing fairy or fabulous about this real-life experience of mine.

The once-upon-a-time phrase often begins fairy tales and fabulous stories set in some unspecified moment in the past.

Except for the story, you are about to read

  • I did not use a CV of many pages. I had the obligatory two-page document without my photo.
  • Of course, I had not typed RESUME on the top of page one, as I knew recruiters are intelligent people who know a resume when they see one.
  • My hobbies were not included because they were irrelevant to the job I wanted.
  • I did not state the reasons for leaving each job that I had chosen to list in the resume.
  • I had not included details of my compensation or what I expected to get in my next job.
  • I didn’t list several names of references because I knew the space was better utilised for listing more of my accomplishments.
  • I had the Career Summary as my first paragraph just below the header with my name and contact details.
  • I used traditional fonts like Calibri and Verdana.
  • There were no text boxes and other fancy features that would jeopardise the beautiful look of my Word document when uploaded to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

So dear reader, as you can see, my resume was a masterpiece. I was ready to roll it out and impress the headhunters.

I should have known better, but I didn’t at the time.

Don’t call us, we’ll call you

Woman-working-online-from-homeIt was back then that I made a promise to myself. I wanted to be a headhunter, I wanted to be different in my approach. I wanted to tell people why there is a lot of “don’t call us, we’ll call you” in the recruitment industry.

Here’s the thing. You need to accept the fact, that headhunters are retained by clients and not candidates. In other words, it’s the clients who pay their fees. Not you.

Any minute the headhunter spends talking to people who are no way near a client’s requirement will just delay the completion of the search assignment.

It steals valuable time away from the client’s project and as a business person yourself, you will appreciate that billing fees are a part of the cycle that makes the business successful.

We need to keep the eye on the ball.

A delay in the process to fill an important position could also easily spill over to the client side.

It could have serious impact on their business, whether being the introduction of new projects, and organisational restructuring, a classy sales campaign to kick start a dull period, a greenfield getting off the ground, or whatever it may be.

Low hanging fruits in recruitment

Low hanging fruitHeadhunters are typically under a lot of time pressure.

But don’t worry; we thrive with that positive stress. We know that all assignments by definition are difficult-to-find positions.

It is the main reason and purpose of our industry.

If all fruits were hanging low and you all had great skills in assessing the well-thought-out dance of candidates… well, you get the picture.

So executive search firms will in general only engage in meetings with candidates if there appears to be a good match between their client’s requirements and the particular candidate profile.

Assessments of qualifications take the form of a structured behaviour-based interview, the use of a unique designed questionnaire that links to the needed technical skills and performance competencies.

Only this way can the headhunter and a candidate have a meaningful meeting that will be helpful to both parties.

Oh well, it’s out of the bag now and the secrets revealed. This can no longer be a fairy tale. 

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.