Ready to jump ship? Read this first

March 27, 2019 Share this article:

Interview with Thomas Heyn, AltoPartners Germany / Jack Russell Consulting Managing Partner and AltoPartners Global Operating Committee Member

You’re good at your job. Exceptional even. But you’re in a rut – feeling underappreciated and in need of a new challenge. You’re considering calling a head hunter. They’re bound to be happy to have you on their books, right? Wrong

Says Dr Thomas Heyn, AltoPartners Global Operating Committee Member and Managing Partner at Jack Russell Consulting / AltoPartners Germany, “Job seekers who approach us have a fundamental misconception about our business model. Essentially, we partner with companies and organisations to be able to provide them with the best advice on their talent management strategies. Our value lies in being able to do a deep dive into our clients’ culture and strategy, and then match them with the right skills at the right price at the right time.”

“And since most executive search professionals tend to specialise in a few niche fields, we know who the main players in each sector are. In the rolodex era it was completely different. Before LinkedIn, a head hunter (although we don’t like the phrase any more than communications people like to be called spin doctors) would rely solely on their network and their contacts but these days technology has given us extremely effective and sophisticated tools to add to our arsenal when it comes to identifying potential candidates. In my experience, job seekers who approach us are seldom willing to invest in making themselves more employable, so it just ends up adding to the admin.”

So, how do prospective job seekers gain the attention of a head hunter?

“Invest in yourself and your employability. Think of your career as a limited liability company in which the shareholders are you, your spouse/ partner and your dependants. What is the lifespan of this company? Does it have a recognisable brand? How adaptable is it? All successful companies invest in R&D to be able to meet changing market conditions. Your career is no different. Have you added new skills to your portfolio in the last decade? If not, why not? What have you done to make your brand more attractive and ensure that it stands out from the rest?

“My advice is to take stock regularly and continuously benchmark yourself against your peers. What organisations do they belong to? Management courses attained? New skills acquired? Articles published? Blogposts? Endorsements?”

“I am always amazed by the number of senior people who approach me for advice but then baulk at making the necessary investment to ensure that their brand remains current.”

Dr Heyn lists four things to consider for those in search of greener pastures:

  1. Is your CV in good shape? This is a job best left to the professionals and yet so many people resist paying talent managers to help them with their CVs. It’s so much more than a list of dates, jobs and key areas of responsibility. It’s a narrative – a story. And like all stories, it’s the skilfully told ones that stand out.

  2. Are your interviewing skills on point? Book an appointment with a career coach - someone who can give you frank and useful feedback about how you interview, from your body language to your verbal tics and your choice of outfit. This is seldom cheap but probably one of the best investment’s you can make.

  3. Critically assess your public profile. What happens when you Google your name? Ensure your LinkedIn profile is current and stands out. Join relevant organisations, share articles, attend conferences, give papers. Put yourself out there.

  4. And finally, upskill. Add new complementary skills and stay current.

“Most job seekers who approach me tend to be professionals facing retrenchment. In addition to asking me to help place them, they will sometimes ask me what they ought to do with their pay-out. I always tell them to find the most expensive Summer School they can afford and get a new qualification, which frequently falls on deaf ears. They nearly always buy the new motor-bike or car instead,” he sighs.

“At the very least, if you are being retrenched, it is worth finding out whether the company will pay for consultation with a professional job coach as part of the severance package. And then engage with a professional CV writer to help you to tell your story effectively. Unless you are actively retired, taking responsibility for your employability rests squarely with you.”

Bottom line: Making yourself more marketable means that you never have to call us - we’ll call you!