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Ask the Expert ; The Head Hunter.

Stanley was the Regional Recruitment Manager for a niche executive search firm and has a cumulative 12 years of regional experience in sales & marketing, business development and office management. His repertoire of skills include talent management, recruitment: managing and conducting C-Level executive searches for clients ranging from SMEs, MNCs, public sector, luxury retail and the likes.  Stanley had the privilege of expatriate living in the following countries: Vietnam, Germany, China and Indonesia and has a good understanding and appreciation for their cultures and people.

Stanley has more than 6 years of HR and Talent recruitment experience of which 4 years were deeply embedded in mid to high level recruitment and search activities in Singapore and APAC region. He is involved in HR Consulting projects where he stations at clients’ office as human resource business partner (HRBP) to manage end-to-end recruitment activities including on-boarding, exit interviews and exit procedures. He has good knowledge in employment law and work passes practices.

Out of office, he has a passion for scuba diving, football, jogging and swimming.

Do share with us what it entails to be a headhunter

The role of a headhunter ora recruiter is both straightforward and complex: straightforward that it involves the process of attracting, selecting and appointing suitable candidates for specific jobs for an organization/company. It becomes complex when different clients or organizations have different expectations for specific or niche job roles and the challenge is in finding the right candidate of the right calibre for them. In simple words, a headhunter is akin to being a middle man: connecting the right candidate to an employer and connecting the right employer to a candidate.

What does it mean when a headhunter calls you?

When a headhunter calls, it means that they may have a suitable job match for you; you are a potential candidate and they are calling you to sound out your level of interest in a new opportunity. The onus is to impress the headhunter that you are the right candidate and talent for the role. Gone are those days where education qualifications alone can get you a good job. Headhunters call candidates to sound out their personality and relevance of experience and then decide if the candidate would be a good fit for the organization.

Why did you decide to be a headhunter?

For the money? Joke aside, the sense of fulfilment in connecting and placing the right people to good employers is what keeps me going on in this field. There are fair shares of good and bad candidates, especially in a highly competitive environment here in Singapore. The challenge in finding a good candidate for an organization is one of the perks of being a headhunter and that means those dreary routine and workplace monotony does not exist in our daily lives.  Each new day is a new challenge as we work closely with our clients and companies on their expectations and find suitable candidates who can work well and help achieve the desired results.

What sort of skills must a headhunter have?

Patience is a virtue and being thick-skinned and people-oriented, to connect and meet up with professionals are essential skills for being a headhunter. A common mistake that some consultants from some recruitment agencies often commit: not screening a candidate well enough but they still proceed on to send the profile over to an organization. It would be a waste of time for an organization to review through the CV of a candidate who clearly does not fit the bill. An effective headhunter needs good EQ skills to understand and qualify a candidate before sending the profile to the organization. In simpler words, an effective headhunter can screen through an average of 20 to 30 resumes before shortlisting the pool down to 3-5 candidates for the client.

Share with us the most bizarre request (s) from a candidate and/or customer.

Nothing bizarre but we had a funny request from a customer who was looking for an Outdoor Sales Manager: someone who can hold his liquor well and drink with clients after office hours. That would be a dream job for those who love to drink and enjoy working in the sales line!

Share with us the three most common skills that companies look out for in a prospect?

There is no hard and fast rule on this as various roles and organizations require various skills. The most common skills that companies look out for are surprisingly non-IQ related and they are personality, leadership capability and interpersonal skills. As I mentioned earlier, education qualifications are important but they are not the only deciding factors. To be honest, 7 of out every 10 Singaporeans are degree holders and a good 3 out of 10 are MBA graduates.  It is a competitive society out there and for every role that requires a degree holder, you can be sure other degree holders are competing with you for the same position.

Companies are smart and different organizations have different cultures:they sound out a candidate on his or her level experience in e.g. leading a team or level of regional exposure.

To be sought after by a headhunter, what would you say is the most important skill and/or quality for a candidate to have?

EQ plays an important part. I had candidates with multiple degrees or MBAs yet they fail an interview with my client when they said the wrong thing or came across as overconfident or aloof. Companies are interested to know your level of interest and knowledge in their business so learn to structure your questions on the company’s business strategies and company vision; not ask about how much you would be paid per month if you work there. Job hopping is also a big no-no regardless of your education background.

As a headhunter do you have any pet-peeves?

Dime a dozen.Latecomers or no-shows for an interview session without informing anybody? Checked. Candidates who turned up for an interview but was sloppily dressed or unshaven? Checked.  Candidates who keep asking about salary, working hours and benefits but never about the role? Checked.

How do headhunters exactly “hunt”?

We conduct our executive searches through job portals or other media platforms. We wouldcontact suitable candidates, set up a meeting with them toscreen them thoroughly on their credentials, their experience and personality before deciding if they are indeed suitable for the role.

What are some of the common resume mistakes of candidates?

There is no such thing that “one size fits all” when it comes to preparing your resume. The general rule or rather, rules are simple:

  • Keep it within 2 pages if your work experience is less than 5 years or within 4 to 5 pages if your job experience is more than 10 years. Hiring and HR Managers do lead busy schedules and the last thing they want is to spend an hour reading your entire life story. Keep it short in summary or point form: good enough to “entice” someone to read it and “suspense” enough that they want to meet you for an interview appointment to know you better.
  • Failure to conduct a spell check or wrong dates in their work history. These are common mistakes that some candidates do commit. Always conduct a spell check before submitting your resume out.
  • Grammar or vocabulary mistakes: if you have a flair for words, use them. If not, stick to using simple words that focus on your strengths and achievements. I had candidates who used fanciful words in their resumes: only for the wrong occasion.

How can candidates and companies alike use LinkedIn to gain visibility and attract each other?

For both, a regular update on your profile and a neat, clear-cut and professional image of yourself and/or your company will go a long way.

What is the biggest faux pas made by candidates that they should essentially avoid at all costs?

During an interview, most hiring managers would ask the candidate if they have any question. The fastest way to kill off your chances in an interview is to set your first question over monetary benefits or remuneration package. I had candidates who had the necessary credentials but failed an interview when their first question was all about monetary or staff benefits available to them.

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