Strategic Move

Strategic Move from Apex Headhunters

By: Apex Headhunters  20/01/2009
Keywords: Employment Services, Personnel Consultants, Headhunters

How does an executive advance in his or her career? How can one hold a higher job title with a bigger portfolio? How can he or she increase his or her pay? How to multiply job satisfaction? How to look out for opportunities for career advancement? How to tap into the resources of the headhunters to fulfill one's dream?

I receive phone calls from executives everyday and they would say to me that they want to find another job. Many do so because they face problems at that point of time; only a few executives really make a calculated strategic move. And this is what I would like to discuss about -- making a strategic move based on design and calculation of one's career with a long term goal in mind, rather than making several haphazard moves due to problems arising at the time, or whenever a headhunter calls.

First of all, to be included into the headhunting stream you must be above average, or better still, the cream of the crop, in what you are doing. Executive search service involves relatively high costs, therefore, it's natural for employers to expect very good candidates. If you are not, sharpen your skills and improve your performance.

Second, establish a wide network of friends. Join professional associations, clubs and alumni, and remember to keep your personal particulars updated! Headhunters love these directories. Attend seminars and trade exhibitions and leave your name cards behind (Of course, you may receive some junk mails and this is the price you have to pay).

Third, send your resume to some headhunting firms. Let them know on the covering letter what your career criteria are and the timetable to move. They will probably keep it in their database and you will never know one fine day they might give you a call. Update your resume and keep them informed.

Fourth, be a good friend with some headhunters. Give them names when they ask you, and they will serve you well should the roof cave in on you someday. I have saved the face of some executives from knocking doors for jobs when they were in trouble. One senior executive was "demoted" due to company politics. He sought for my rescue and I put him up to be a board member of a Fortune 500 company. He re-established himself once again in the industry and with an even better prestige! He certainly enjoyed that "revenge."

There was another senior executive whose contract was about to expire. He called me to line him up with some interviews just in case his negotiation to renew his contract couldn't go through. It's certainly comforting for any executive to have some reliable sources of help in time of emergency like this so that he or she can go to sleep soundly at night.

Fifth, don't move too frequently. How frequent is frequently? My judgment is three to five years depending on the industry. It really takes about at least that length of time to gain some new skills and to make some contributions to your employer. When you are a young executive you may think it doesn't hurt when you move every one or two years, but when you reach senior level, potential employers will look at your past career history and you may lose out to one who is more stable! When it comes to very competitive selection for the right candidate, every hair of information counts! Remember, if you cannot even plan your career well, how can you plan for businesses that involve millions of dollars?

Sixth, what do you do if you think that your promotion is overdue but your boss is taking advantage of your softness? If you know you are "indispensable" to your boss, arm yourself with a good job offer from a competitor firm, and then approach your boss with your terms. During the process of interviews you get to know your competitor's inside story better and now you can become even more valuable to your boss! This strategy works most of the time except when you miscalculate your "indispensability!" One word of caution: Be frank to the headhunter during the interview about your intention if you're going through him. If he agrees to assist you, that's fine. An experienced headhunter can discern a candidate's motive generally. I have helped some candidates this way, and I have also struck off some names who were not upfront with me.

Here are some precautions for executives:

First, avoid sending in your resignation letter before securing a job offer. You may face pressure at the time just to let go your impulse, but patience will win the game at the end. Some years ago in Tokyo, a candidate called me suddenly and swore that he was going to resign on the spot. I listened to his story, cooled him down, and advised him to make some strategic maneuvers. Fortunately, he followed my counsel and later he oustered his "enemy" and became the head of the department. He thanked me profusely, apologized for his impulsiveness, and we became good friends. I could have profited the situation by placing him, but I saw his future in the company. He later rewarded me with a few search assignments.

Second, the reason for not sending in your resignation early is that when you go for interviews as a jobless candidate, you put yourself at the mercy of the potential employer at the bargaining table. When the potential employer knows your employment predicament they will not give you the best salary. Although this sounds like common sense, but unfortunately I still receive calls from such candidates every now and then!

Third, you may not get a good job right away. The longer you stay unemployed, the harder it is to find employment. Headhunters usually stay clear from unemployed executives because they are not presentable before their clients.

Finally, a call from a headhunter doesn't mean it's good news! Surprised? Although ninety-nine per cent of the time they are good news, but one per cent chance may be your competitor in the same company is trying to get rid of you! Or you may be the tough challenger against your colleague for promotion. Or you may be sitting on the seat that he is eyeing for. Or perhaps your boss is the culprit who thinks that you have outlived your usefulness in the company? One quick way for any one of them to do is to send your name to a headhunter without your knowledge. You may genuinely get a good job offer, but your colleague or your boss will be quietly congratulating himself!

These are some of the practical guidelines from the headhunting perspective. I hope you can use them wisely to make your next strategic move!

Meng Hock Pang
Managing Director
Apex Headhunters
Tel: +65 6100 2739
Email: [email protected]

Keywords: Employment Services, Headhunters, Personnel Consultants