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Working with a PR & Comms Headhunter

Being Headhunted for a PR & comms job happens to us all. Sometimes this PR Recruitment approach is welcome, sometimes it’s not. So cultivating a relationship with the (right) recruiter or headhunter is a career-long relationship, but it goes both ways. There might be lulls or moments where you don’t speak for a while. But inboxes, WhatsApps, and phone lines are always open. So What is the best way of working with a PR & Comms Headhunter?

We’re mindful that many of you are being inundated with copy and paste messages from zero sh*ts given recruiters. We are not all the same. So if it’s obvious that the InMail message you’ve received is a one size fits all job. Feel free to roll your eyes and delete. You can generally tell by the quality of the message and its relevance. Who has done their research and who is just chancing it. We’re no strangers to the old BCC ourselves. I loved being called Brett last week. We can tell when a potential client has sent a mass email to 10 recruiters, asking if they have CV’s. These are not our people.

Accepting an inMail

Accepting an InMail from a headhunter isn’t the same as saying you’re looking, or that you’re interested in the role that’s been put in front of you. Imagine you’re at a networking lunch and someone starts chatting to you. The InMail acceptance is you saying hello back. Don’t ignore the person who approached you and walk away to get another cheese sandwich.

So if someone has sent you a nicely worded message, and you can see positive professional stuff on their LinkedIn profile, accept the InMail. Reply briefly even if you’re not actively looking. It will take 30 seconds of your time and will kickstart the relationship. Then be clear about how you want things to go in your reply such as:

  • I’m not looking now but check in at the end of the year with me.
  • I’m only looking for in-house for an FMCG brand. I wouldn’t move to another agency.
  • I’m being promoted next month to account manager, so I only want to hear about AM roles in financial services.
  • I’m starting to put feelers out. Here’s my CV, can we grab a chat?

Be Nice

If you’re not on the market and don’t have time or inclination to spend an hour doing an interview, try to get an exploratory call in with the headhunter. Often they can get top-line info from you (salary, what roles you’d be interested in, etc, what’s important to you, etc.). Then they can then give you some advice on navigating the PR Recruitment market.

You might not be looking now, but often it’s about timing. Then when that dream job comes in that fits your brief (especially when it’s a confidential search or not being advertised), you’ll be happy. They’re just letting you know and booking in time to do a thorough interview.

A good PR & comms headhunter doesn’t work in a transactional way. If you’re in their network it’s not just about the right now. Relationships are cultivated over the years and throughout careers. They’ll always make time for you if you need career advice, intel, market updates, recommendations, introductions, a shoulder to cry on, or a sounding board.

Make that connection

So be part of their community. Be more Gen X. Some of our best relationships are with senior level comms folk and founders who we supported back in the early stages of their careers to the present day. We’ve networked for them and presented opportunities they might not otherwise have had access to. Those candidates have taken us with them, and recommended us as recruiters. This happens when a headhunter or recruiter treats their profession, and the relationships they’ve built, with sensitivity and longevity. Candidates become clients, become candidates, and so it continues…

And lastly, have one or two trusted recruiters who have your back. Check in with them. The experienced ones (like us) know what the market is doing and what it’s paying. We know what people are saying – which agencies and brands are on the up or sliding down. Who is saying all the right things but not delivering? We’re happy to give advice and support you – irrespective of whether you’re interviewing through us or not.

We’re in it for the long Game

Our advice is to choose a PR & comms industry headhunter you vibe with, and makes you feel fully comfortable. Someone who doesn’t come across as salesy, and has strong industry knowledge. Someone who explains their processes and what to expect, and who is confident and honest enough to not just tell you just what you want to hear. You’re so much more than a £ sign.

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