As more and more people are using the term loosely these days, try these targeted questions to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
1. Are you retained on this project exclusively?
If you are approached about a job opportunity and before you give away personal information, it’s important to check that the person approaching you is actually retained by the company to approach people on their behalf and not just trying their luck by firing pertinent CVs at the hiring manager.
They should have a detailed job spec and be able to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the company. If they don’t know the answer to a question they should be honest enough to tell you and be able to get the information for you. It is more than likely they will also have a timetable to work to and agreed interview days already booked into the hiring managers diary.
2. What other opportunities can you put me forward for?
Trick question. Presuming you have been targeted in response to the client’s specific requirements, any ethical headhunter would not discuss putting you forward for other opportunities until either you or the client has decided that you do not wish to pursue things further. The only exception to this may be if they are advertising elsewhere on behalf of a client and you apply directly to the advert.
3. Who are your hands off clients?
Executive Search firms typically set in place a hands off agreement for a defined time frame and business area after working with a client. It’s important to know the companies they have such policy’s in place with, within your target market as their hands off policy may limit the scope of the search they can carry out on your behalf.