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 How to apply to a headhunter?

Author: Dietmar Eis | PersonalAG® | IPTER member, Bielefeld, Germany

The headhunter is the liaison between the client company and the candidate. He often works for his clients on a long-term basis and knows the decision-makers, the company internals and the corporate and management culture. Therefore, he or she can quickly assess whether the applicant fits the job posting based on the applicant documents sent to him or her.

In over ten years of working as a recruiter, I have had the privilege of reading and evaluating hundreds of resumes. In my opinion, applicants should keep the following in mind:

The application to the headhunter should consist of three components: the letter of motivation, the CV and work references.

a) Cover letter / motivational letter

The cover letter is not mandatory, as the most important information should be listed in the resume. However, it is important for the headhunter to know the applicant’s desired salary or salary range in order to clarify whether these are compatible with the job offer. Furthermore, information about the availability/termination period and the motivation to change, why this company in particular should be considered as a future employer, should not be missing. The applicant should ask himself how close the position is to his ideal. Only if the position offered is identical to the ideal position should he or she apply and invest time and effort in the application process.

b) Resume/CV

The curriculum vitae should imperatively contain: Address, date of birth, photo, marital status, professional experience, education, language skills, computer skills, further education, private commitment and interests. A list of self-evident facts should be avoided. A curriculum vitae should be without gaps. If there are gaps, they should be explained. The most recent work experience or education should be placed at the beginning.

The resume should have page numbering and contact information in the footer.

For the stages in the professional life, the activities performed, the area of responsibility and competencies should be mentioned and furthermore with which results/successes the positions were filled and which measures and, in the case of managers, which management style were used, e.g.

  • Sales manager: Sales increases through introduction of new products, contribution margin increases, number of employees,
  • Purchase manager: price reductions achieved, out of stock decisively reduced, quality improved through supplier audits
  • Production manager: error rate reduced, set-up times shortened, sick days reduced

c) Work references
The job references can once again complement the CV, describe the activities in more detail and describe the personality and work behavior.

The resume should be sent to the headhunter as a Word document or editable PDF. He will not simply forward the documents to his client, but will edit them.

With a meaningful resume, the recruiter will quickly be able to get a qualified overall picture of the candidate and the next step of an in-depth phone call and/or an online interview will definitely follow. After that, the headhunter converts the documents and impressions sent to him into a comparable format and presents the candidate to his client. That’s the goal!

The advantage for the applicants is that it is not an unsolicited application but the client of the headhunter is really looking for competent staff and due to the pre-selection of the experienced headhunter the requirement profiles of the presented candidates are easily comparable for the client so that for the client and the applicant the interviews are crowned with high chances of success.

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