7 (More) Secrets Headhunters Usually Don’t Tell You

Top Secret!

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Like thousands of others, you probably have already read “Ten Secrets Headhunters (Usually) Don’t Tell You” ( here ) which covered the in and outs of working with headhunters. (Readers can go also through the full basics of job-hunting by reading the “Choose Me, Hire Me” series which starts here .)

But while headhunters can be helpful career advisors, few are. It’s not their job, and it’s not what they get paid to do.

Here are seven more tips they probably didn’t share:

1 – Your new job may start even before you do. The gag line about getting only once chance to make a good first impression is true – and for job seekers that first impression gets made based on how you interview.

While you should always be yourself while interviewing (no sense pretending to be a carnivore at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House if you’re really a vegetarian – you might get stuck at someplace you don’t like), how you interview carries an impact into the start of the job, and it’s why it’s important to have done your homework .

Thoughtful candidates get quicker, more favorable new job starts then candidates that are bumpy.

2 – Most things are negotiable depending how you play it. As the saying goes, everything is negotiable, but how negotiable is in part how you handle it. Act like an ass, and (some) people’s backs will stiffen – and you may end up getting less than you wanted.

Negotiate well and things that no one else got may come your way. Being sensible, being willing to look at the other person’s point of view, and being creative all are very helpful in securing things like work aids (computers, iPhones, telecommuting options), title, and compensation.

3 – Being a new hire terror carries baggage. Related to the next item, it’s great to make your mark early but making that mark on the backs of other people won’t get you as far as you’d like. Unless you’re coming in at a high leverage point (think CEOs or other C suite staff) with support, it helps to have people respect and like you.

You don’t have to be loved, but it doesn’t help to be hated and not respected. While a prima donna act may work if you manage up well, no one – absolutely no one – who is a peer or a subordinate to one likes these types of people on their team.

4 – The first 90-180 days (getting traction) are critical. It’s not exactly the Obama presidency (move the country out of an economic disaster, win a war in Afghanistan, fix health care, and solve global warming) but the first 90-180 days is the time to form a base for your work at a new firm.

Reaching out to folks, doing the things that show you’re willing (and able) to roll up your sleeves, and getting to really know the business are all things that people who do well have on their to-do list early.

It’s an interesting balance and do it well and you’ll make a great start in the new job.

5 – Performance – performance – performance . While being the new gal (or guy) can be fun, the political sorts in your new shop may make sure that people notice when you trip or fail. The answer? A mantra of under promise and over deliver. I still remember working with someone who staged a lot of whoop-a-la in their third month about a project they were going to lead retitling 4,000 employees – including pulling people into work teams to “help” with the effort.

While the piece of work died quickly, the memory of the person overpromising and under delivering did not. Short story: tackle things that you have a decent chance of doing, rather than shooting from the hip about things no one has a shot of completing.

Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it – it will set you apart from 80% of the folks with whom you work.

6 – Act short term – think long(er) term. While it’s possible that you could be in your job and new firm forever, the odds are that it’s unlikely. In a recent study, executive search firm Spencer Stuart found that the average CFO job tenure at Fortune 1000 companies has fallen from 4.7 years in 2004 to 4.1 years today, which is consistent with the 4.2 average tenure for Eurofirst 300 CFOs . CIO normal tenure these day stands at four years and five months, according to data collected from 558 heads of IT in a 2008 “State of the CIO ” survey. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , the average job tenure is currently only four years (compared to 15 years in 1980).

Last edited by J. Mike Smith on March 23, 2011 at 8:12 am

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