Why you're still not getting headhunted

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It's the time of year when you really ought to be getting calls from headhunters. If you're not, and you want to, you may be doing something badly wrong. Following on from our previous article on how to get yourself headhunted, here's what may be preventing headhunters from chasing you down.

(Equally, if you want to avoid being deluged with headhunter calls, the points listed below act as a guide on where to begin).

1) You're not on anyone's database

If you're only a junior analyst or associate you're unlikely to get headhunted in the first place - most recruiters at this level operate on a pure contingency basis. Some search work does take place for juniors, but the opacity of the market at this level means most recruitment firms will call on people already on their databases.

For example, companies like the Cornell Partnership run graduate recruitment programmes for financial services companies, as well as placing experienced analysts and associates. Anyone who applies for a graduate position through them gets added to their database, and may receive a call later in their career.

If you're not on this kind of database, getting called is less likely.

2) None of your colleagues mentions your name

All headhunters say 80-90% of the people they place come to them through referrals, or talking to people in the market. If your colleagues don't mention your name when headhunters call them up, you're therefore simply not going to get approached.

"People will generally say, 'There are one or two good people on our team, the rest are pretty bad,'" says one PE headhunter. "I then come away with the names of those good people.

"You need to be well networked within your firm, or you're not going to get called," he adds.

3) You moved into your current role from something completely different

Most headhunters focus on particular sectors or geographic regions. Although global search firms will track people as they move internationally, moving into the City from elsewhere means you may not be on the radar of London headhunters yet. Equally, if you've moved from the sellside to the buyside (or vice versa), you may need to raise your profile among headhunters specialising in your area.

4) Your details aren't up to date on Bloomberg or the FSA

As well as chatting to colleagues, headhunters spend their time trawling social networking sites, Bloomberg and the FSA. If your details on any of these aren't up to date, they're less likely to sniff you out.

Even better, every time you move, try and ensure a press release is sent out announcing your arrival - or that your new position somehow leaks to the press.

5) You're hard to get hold of

Some headhunters are perseverant, but many like low hanging fruit. If you rarely answer your phone and never give out your mobile number, your more obtainable colleagues may get all the calls.

6) You're out of the market

Unless you're a big name who left on good terms, it's highly unlikely that headhunters will call you while you're at home tending the garden. This is partly because banks will usually prefer to hire you directly, but it's also because it can be hard to establish the calibre of people who are no longer working.

"It's really difficult to get credible information about people who are out of the market," says one headhunter. "A lot of people in banking tend to be very generous to former colleagues who haven't got a job, and will give you their names and recommend them. However, it's hard to know whether they're just doing it out of sympathy."

7) You're not very good

All the headhunters we spoke to emphasised that if someone is good, they will unearth them. "Good people are always headhunter," said one. "They will always be found."

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