Guest comment: Don't diss the headhunter

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Think about how you're presenting yourself to headhunters and recruiters before complaining about their lack of response, says Rodolphe Mortreuil of MKMC Ltd.

It's true to say that people sometimes have good reason to be unhappy with the way they are treated by recruitment professionals and failure to respond to emails is one of the big gripes.

However, I would like to show the other side of the coin, through an experience that happened to me over the weekend, when I received the following email:

"Hi,

I understand you are an executive search company but was presumably you are looking for candidates to fit profiles as well.

I have just had a final round with [company One] for an associate client advisor position and have a final round with [company Two] and [company Three] coming up ... I just wanted to see if any of your clients had any current requirements for someone like me who is looking for an associate client advisor level where training is provided etc

Kind Regards

[Name removed]

[Mobile phone number and email address removed]"

That's it.

It may not be the worst email I have received, but it comes close, and this is why:

1) It is much too informal for a piece of business correspondence. How can I take the sender seriously if he/she opens with "Hi" when we don't know each other? Email is not Instant Messaging. I can only decide how a candidate will perform in front of my client on the basis of his attitude and behaviour with me. You have to be as professional and focused with the headhunter as you would be with the firm you are hoping for a contract from.

2) It is not written in proper English. So either the sender doesn't speak English as a native language (in which case that should be mentioned and explained) or he/she doesn't care. That is a question you certainly do not want anyone reading your CV/cover letter to ask him/herself.

3) There is no information whatever in this email concerning what makes the sender a potential candidate. Skills? Education? Experience? Even if you elect not to make your CV available immediately (which, in my opinion, is the right choice), you should at least tell me why I should work with you.

4) The one piece of information that email actually does give me is why I should not work with the sender. He/she already has one offer and is hoping for one to two more in the near future. Yet he wants me to risk my name and reputation to my clients, getting him even more offers, so he can what? Turn them down? Why would I be willing to do that?

Because I do not like the sometimes bad reputation the recruitment industry has - any more than my colleagues out there do - I did send a polite answer to the email. But I am glad I don't receive this sort of message often. I wouldn't want to answer too many of them.

Rodolphe Mortreuil is founder and managing director of McKinsey Mortreuil Clarke (MKMC) Ltd.

Note from the editor: Sorry if you were one of the many people who left a comment which didn't immediately materialise on this post - we've been having a few issues with our comments system...

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