How to attract the attention of headhunters and talent scouts

Let me start by defining what a talent scout or headhunter actually is. To me, they are “a person whose job it is to proactively search for talented candidates using various online media channels who could have the potential to be employed by a business”.

More often than not companies, as well as recruitment agencies, are appointing dedicated talent scouts, headhunters, talent acquisition managers, in order to take a more proactive approach to sourcing talented employees. Their aim is to find the right candidate to support their objectives in a competitive market place and to secure the “best” talent that is out there.

Today’s digital age means we’re inundated with job sites, new ways to connect and network and opportunities for us to create a personal ‘brand’ to help us stand out from the crowd of high calibre candidates – not to mention that we can quickly and easily upload our CV at the click of a button.

All of these factors come together to create a vast pool of candidates, which raises the question…

How can you stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of headhunters and talent scouts?


  1. Highlight your expertise

When first uploading your CV to a job board you are usually given the option to tick your areas of expertise. Tick as many as you can but keep them relevant and be honest. One of a headhunter’s first tasks is to do a skills search using keywords that apply to the position they’re recruiting for. Before you know it, your CV with the relevant and necessary expertise will pop up in their search!


  1. Make your profile punchy

Have a profile, keep it up to date and keep it punchy! For example:

“Marketing Graduate and CIM Qualified. Progressive individual who has experienced promotion several times. Specialist in internal and external communications strategy, brand marketing and product development.  To date, worked in FMCG and packaging sectors in £m turnover businesses.  Tenacious, influential, positive and solutions focussed.”

Make it too wordy with lots of flowery adjectives and you could be in danger of loosing someone’s attention.


  1. Include contact and location

Contact and location details – it may sound obvious but you would be amazed at how many people don’t put their phone number and / or email / skype address on their CV.  Also, location – where are you currently based and where will you entertain working?  It all helps!


  1. Get the content of your CV right

There’s no right or wrong way to present a CV; a lot can come down to personal preference. However, in my experience I find many of my clients will pick out the CV’s that clearly show who they have worked for, what that company does, what role you held and the bullet points of what you did and achieved in each role.

By including these points you’re putting your experience into context and helping a headhunter to decide on your relevancy against the roles they are sourcing for.


  1. List your achievements

But make sure your achievements are accountable! In particular if you’re looking to work in a commercially led business, your achievements will need to be commercially qualified with tangible metrics.

For instance, a HR professional may say: “High levels of absence and low staff retention were being experienced costing the business thousands. Working closely with senior managers I introduced a HR led coaching package to help them manage more proactively and effectively. I also introduced return to work interviews following sickness absence, started monitoring trends and patterns, which hadn’t been done proactively before, and tackled areas of concern with key employees along with reviewing policy and process to embed changes in approach. Resulted in 30% increase in retention. 50% reduction in sickness absence.


  1. Keep it professional

If you’re on LinkedIn, keep your photo professional – if you’re updating your CV, don’t include a photo at all. No talk of being a proud mum/dad to Daisy, Donald and Douglas! Avoid talking about strange hobbies (you would be amazed at the ones I have read over the years…. it’s good comedy value knowing someone is a snake charmer in their spare time but let’s face it, it isn’t relevant to a job search!). Also, and this one is easily forgotten, avoid lots of colour and fancy graphics unless you actually are a graphic designer and you want to show off your skills. Keep it professional!


Have you ever been approached by a headhunter or talent scout? If you have, why not leave your advice on how you managed to stand out of the crowd below? I’d love to hear your advice too!

…and of course, good luck with the job hunt!

About the Author

Emma Plummer

Emma Plummer

Recruitment Partner

Emma blogs for the ACR jobseekers’ blog covering tips on how to stand out, managing the job-hunting process and more.