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How to get headhunted

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Did you hear about that kid who fell out of university and landed straight into an amazing job because a recruiter spotted them?

We spoke to Maddy Scragg from Instant Impact (a graduate recruitment agency) to find out exactly what you need to do to be that annoying graduate.

Optimise your CV for search engines

Recruiters search for CVs like you search for a dinner recipe, so keywords are key. Check your CV for relevant words that someone’s likely to search for. As an example, prospective editors should include keywords like “student newspaper” and “editing”.

Create accounts with graduate recruitment websites

When starting their headhunting, recruiters will first use their company’s in-house database of job hunters. This database is made up of all the people who have set up an account with them, so be one of those people!

You should also have a LinkedIn account, as recruiters often search for candidates through the site. Use your profile to outline your experience and key skills, but make sure it looks good and is regularly updated.

Ensure your story makes sense

If you’re looking for a particular career, your CV needs to have your back. Expressing an interest in editorial work without ever having been involved with your student newspaper will confuse a recruiter. They’ll wonder why you haven’t demonstrated any long-term interest in that role.

Send out top-quality CVs

Naturally, the content needs to be great, but Maddy really emphasised the importance of attention to detail. She mentioned that a CV with correct grammar and spelling is important regardless of the job you’re applying for. It’s also vital that the document is clearly laid out, with every piece of information serving a purpose. The person reading your CV should want to know more, so make it inviting.

You need to tailor your CV to the job you’re sending it off for. “People applying for editorial roles often put one line about their experience with the student paper right at the bottom” said Maddy. Make your most important and relevant experience stand out.

Top recruiter tip: always specify dates and results, or recruiters will think the worst. They’ll assume an unquantified placement was only a day, and an unspecified degree result is a third.

Get some wider experience

Maddy said that when searching through CVs she often looks for terms like RAG (Raising and Giving), and highly rates those who have done part-time work, volunteering and independent travel. I asked her more about independent travel, as people are often reticent to put it on their CV. She explained its benefits from a recruiter’s perspective: “it demonstrates independence, self-awareness and organisational skills.”

Sort out your social media presence

Maddy pointed out that she’s all-too-often been completely put off an otherwise excellent candidate by a social media channel of theirs featuring inappropriate content. So here it is, kids: “I always check people’s social media accounts before I contact them.” Consider yourselves warned.

Do you know how to get headhunted? Tell us how below!

Photo: Ashley Campbell / Flickr

I’m an Editorial Manager with an English Literature degree from Warwick University. I love writing about travel, careers, and vegan baking. For more info and to get in contact about freelance writing opportunities, visit
Samantha HoppsHow to get headhunted

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