Headhunter Confidential: Top Secrets for Increasing your Opportunities


Being the Chief Business Development Officer for yourself can often be challenging and time consuming.  If done right, it should be a fluid, part-time job that never ends.  Too often it is a start-stop-start-stop role as executives go in and out of assignments and positions.  Though the problem this causes is obvious, the solution isn’t.  We asked the experts at Cerius for some advice on how an executive can maximize their time with business development.

Headhunter Secret: Be Specific About Your Expertise

When the question comes, “do you know someone who…”, which executive will come to top of mind first?  The executive who has had a banner out saying they are the expert in this area or the executive who has said “I can do anything.” We work with thousands of executives.  We understand that many accomplished executives can do just about anything, however from a client perspective, I want the best to solve my problem or step into a role. The focus can be anywhere from a particular area within an industry vertical (taking new products to market within the medical device industry) or an expert within a specific focus regardless of industry (change management for innovative products within service type industries). Just be clear and show a history of company results within that area.

Headhunter Secret: Take Out An Ad

Well, not exactly.  But it should be thought of that way. You are a busy executive and nothing is more exhausting than the thought of being on the networking circuit. Every encounter needs to be memorable.  You never know who the person you met with today will be meeting with tomorrow. The person they are meeting with may be a great introduction for you.  Do they remember enough about you to make the connection that you are an important person they need to know.  With a single meeting, you want them to remember what you do best, especially if you quantify what you do.  It is easier to remember someone who says they have worked with over 100 family owned businesses in the manufacturing industry vs. someone who says they help companies achieve their goals.

Headhunter Secret: Never Stop Networking

I’ll never forget when I found myself in the job market after 15 years and was wanting to work outside my industry. I had made the mistake of not building a broad enough net before I needed it. We all know, yet easily forget, that connecting and building relationships is easier when you are working than when you are looking for work. At Cerius, we are always surprised when someone takes a full time position or is juggling multiple assignments and says they don’t need to network anymore.  Even if you aren’t actively looking, most executives are at the point in their career that it makes sense to consider board positions.  Always have your business card out there!

Headhunter Secret: Online Presence

First thing I do when I meet someone or am going to meet with someone is to “Google” them.  Though you may not have control over everything on the internet about you, you should at least know what is out there. For those things you can control over, make sure they are consistent and reflect your current information.  It is not uncommon for me to meet with an executive who is looking for a CEO role yet I had to read through a list of board and other roles before I got to his CEO experience.  And in the end, I had no idea what types of CEO roles best fit this executive.   The most common reason I hear is not wanting to be pigeonholed. Even if you are looking to rebrand/remake your career – make it clear and be consistent.

Headhunter Secret: Get Outside Perspective

You are probably great at doing this for the companies you have helped. You know an outside fresh perspective is often critical. Even though those inside the company may know everything there is to know about both the company and the industry, that can easily blind their approach and leave them with a very myopic view point.  Getting objective feedback from both your peers as well as your audience is a powerful way to refine your messaging.

Our passion at Cerius is helping companies and executives connect. Since we do this daily, we have seen it all. No two situations are alike and it is never easy knowing what is expected.  Whether you are working with a search firm, headhunter, managing multiple profile sites, scanning the job boards or just getting started, we are happy to provide our expertise and insights to help you maximize your opportunity seeking efforts.

This is part one of a series of articles to share knowledge from the point of view of headhunters, recruiters, executive search and client perspectives. Let us know what questions you have to help make you the expert.

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