How to Handle a Headhunt Call

by Abrivia Recruitment

Headhunting is one of the ways recruiters try to access specific people for a job they think they would be suitable for. These particular jobs they are working to fill tend to be at mid to senior level and have hard to acquire skillsets hence the direct approach taken by them. The reason that a head hunter may contact you directly at your desk is that they may have no other direct way of getting in touch with you.  Many people wonder how the head hunter has gotten their name and their direct dial. There are many different ways that this can occur and some examples are:

1) Your profile is on Linkedin so they know where you work and can call reception and be put through.
2) Many companies have senior employee profiles on their website and these may include contact details.
3) The company the head hunter recruits for may know of you and you may be headhunted on their behalf.
4) Someone who knows you may have recommended you as being a potential fit.
5) You may simply be an expert or leader in your field and therefore are very well known.
This list is not exhaustive but can give you a flavour as to why you are getting the call at your desk. Now the question is “how to handle the call when it comes through”. Below are two specific situations you might find yourself in;

Situation (A)
You are at your desk and the phone rings. Your boss is standing behind you discussing an important project to one of your colleagues. You answer the phone and the voice on the other line is a head hunter.

What do you do?
First thing is not to panic. Your boss doesn’t know who is at the other end of the phone (even if you think that at the moment of the call everyone in the office knows and they’re secretly listening). Most head hunters will ask if it is a convenient time for you to speak. If it isn’t, which most times it may not be, quite simply just tell them it’s not a good time and could they (a) call you back again or (b) ask them to email you. In the unlikely event that you get off the line and your boss asks who you were speaking to you have a number of options.

You can pass it off as a colleague of a friend/wife/husband etc. and it was nothing urgent.
It was a wrong number.
You can simply say it was a headhunt call from some recruiter calling you out of the blue which your boss can’t argue with and it makes you sound like you’re in demand.

Situation (B)
The phone rings and nobody is standing around you but it is still difficult to talk openly due to it being a busy or open-plan office. If you are interested in speaking with them and want to give your mobile phone number to the head hunter without arousing suspicion this can still be done.

Tell the head hunter to hold the line, surreptitiously leave your desk and do a bit of crouching tiger, hidden dragon to find a quiet place to speak.
Pretend it is a call from a mechanic or such and say something like; “Thanks for coming back to me, the exhaust has been playing up a bit but it’s not a good time to speak but if I gave you my mobile number could you call me a bit later on. It’s 08X, XX XX XXX”. You’ll need to think on your feet here but it shouldn’t be a massive issue!

Don’t be Angry
Try not to react angrily when getting headhunt calls as you might be cutting off your nose to spite your face. You don’t know what is going to happen in the future and when you may need that recruiter’s service again. At the very least it is worthwhile having a chat with them. At worst the job is not going to be of interest which just reconfirms that you are happier where you are or it could be an excellent opportunity and just the type of thing that would have you considering moving on from your current job.

In Conclusion
Getting headhunt calls can be a boost to the ego but also an inconvenience. The thing to remember is not to panic. The head hunter is simply looking to get your mobile number from you and a convenient time for when you can speak freely.