Borderless Executive Live: The Podcast

Impressing the Headhunter

March 14, 2021 Andrew Kris Season 2 Episode 1
Borderless Executive Live: The Podcast
Impressing the Headhunter
Show Notes Transcript

What's the best way to impress a headhunter? Andrew Kris of Borderless in conversation with Anthony Harling provide some insights for a successful conversation.

Andrew Kris  0:03  
I'm Andrew Kris, a founding partner at Borderless, a firm of 22 consultants operating worldwide to find leaders for companies in the global chemical value chain and life sciences sectors.

Anthony Harling  0:13  
Andrew, we're talking about impressing the headhunter. You've met thousands of candidates over the years, I'm sure. I'm interested to know, what makes somebody stand out. What do you notice about the people that you meet? And what makes them special?

Andrew Kris  0:35 
You're meeting another person for a conversation when you meet a headhunter. Not an interrogation. So preapre for a conversation. I'm here to get to know you and work with you to help you get the best out of your career. However, my job is to make sure that my client meets the person needed right now for his business. Please treat me with respect. By the way, that also means when you write to me, find out whether I'm relevant for you. Anything that comes in as a generic, impersonal mail 'to whom it may concern', goes straight to the bin. It's just not polite and shows a careless, unthinking approach.

Anthony Harling  1:06 
If I'm a candidate for a role and I'm meeting a headhunter for the first time, how much preparation should I be doing in advance of the meeting?

Andrew Kris  1:15 
What you should not be doing is rehearsing your resume. You should prepare for a lucid conversation about yourself and the kind of things that interest you, in life and in business, not a rehash of your resume. Come for an open conversation.

Anthony Harling  1:36 
Is it true there's no such thing as over-preparation? Can over-preparation be negative?

Andrew Kris  1:47 
It can be, I want to find out about you who you are as a person. That's my number one objective; what you've done - I can read that in your resume and by all means introduce it. But what I'm interested in is to get to know who you are, what you do, what makes you tick, and what your personal ambitions are. Tell me about your background and what brings you here. While you're at it, perhaps look up my career history, we may have some things in common that will make for a more stimulating conversation. If you're coming in to talk about a specific opportunity or a specific client, then of course do the background reading. But you would do that ahead of any business discussion wouldn't you? Why would this one be any different? If you're going to invest a couple of hours of your life in having a conversation about a position, then you should do your homework.

Anthony Harling  2:39 
Absolutely. It's like any investment. Andrew, what are your pet hates?

Andrew Kris  2:44 
Pretence - about who you are. So please be yourself. The real you becomes very apparent very quickly. We do know how to get to the real 'you'. If you are right for the role we are discussing, fantastic. If you're not, well, don't waste your life on this, go and do something else. So please be yourself. don't try to be the person you think we may be looking for.

Anthony Harling  3:16 
When we engage with headhunters, I sometimes find that there are people who are a little too slick in their preparation. In other words, they've got it all pre-packaged. It smacks of low confidence. Whereas somebody who is at ease with who they are is more willing to open up and talk more freely about themselves.

Andrew Kris  3:38  
A candid, open discussion generates a similar response in a conversation. This 'reciprocity' is a key factor in relationships and in leadership, isn't it? And to have a reciprocal relationship, you need to give of yourself, as well as take from others. So openness and a candid approach is absolutely key to the right conversation and gaining the respect of the headhunter.I have found that the more experienced, successful executives tend to be more relaxed, more open, more willing and able to have a mutually informative discussion. And of course, a discussion is two-way, right? Very often, you can be so busy telling that you actually forget to ask any questions. That's a mistake. Again, that's not a conversation.

Anthony Harling  4:17  
It's really a process of due diligence on both sides, isn't it?

Andrew Kris  4:21 
Absolutely. Your job as a candidate is to imagine yourself in the role and picture what the next few years will look like. Try to understand what you're getting into. Remember, that the headhunter likely has experience of the client and understands the realities of the role, warts and all. And if you are the right person, you should be able to find that out, know that you should be able to handle the realities of the situation you will be moving into.

Anthony Harling  4:45 
If I'm meeting you, Andrew, to talk about a job, what are some of the obvious questions that I should be asking?

Andrew Kris  4:51 
What's it like to work in this place? Who are the people that you've met? Why would I want to work here given what you know of me so far?

Anthony Harling  5:00 
What about the expectations of the role?

Andrew Kris  5:02 
What is your client expecting me to do? How am I going to be measured in my first year? These are critical questions that you should get clear answers to in a constructive, open conversion with your headhunter.