One (More) Headhunter “Secret”: “See Me”

An Ifugao warrior with some of his trophies; I...

There are “secrets” in the executive search trade that anyone who hopes to be headhunted (or hire a headhunter to fill an opening) should know.

A set of 10 tips are here; another 7 more are here.

Here’s an 18th tip: what you do in the search process can stick with you for a lifetime.

While the world is incredibly small – Wendy Yanowitch’s saying that “The world is made up of (just) six people and lots of mirrors” is pretty true- what you do in the search process or even what you do outside of the search process can find a home in any record a search firm keeps.

While the big international blue-chip firms (Heidrick & Struggles, Egon Zehnder, Russell Reynolds, SpencerStuart) aren’t likely to keep anything on file that they wouldn’t want to see the light of day, something akin to “SM” – see me – is put in files where a conversation is warranted for a candidate or potentially, a prospective client.

Less sophisticated search firms, I would guess, would be less discrete and put things into writing straight into the file. (We’ve all see from court cases that surface email correspondence the dumb things that people memorialize by putting things in writing.)

That “SM” designation signals that a conversation with the person who flagged the comment is suggested.

It could be minor – perhaps somebody has flaked out on an offer they said they’d accept – or major, as in the candidate is a “nut case” and to be treated with caution. So while I think doing the right thing is, well, the right thing, it continues to also be the smart thing.

Headhunting anyone?


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

An Ifugao warrior with some of his trophies; Identified as Rafael Bulayungan by descendants and in Frank Lawrence Jenista’s The White Apos (1987) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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