Working with a Headhunter

If you are a superstar at work, and have now decided to move to a deeper ocean, working with the right headhunter, decides the success of your career transition. 
If you are not represented by a headhunter who has your interest in mind, you run the risk of diving out of the frying pan and straight into the fire.

If you are a superstar, you would have been fished out by a research team prior to the actual call from the headhunter. If you have been behind the shields, then you could source and select the headhunter you want to work with. 
Choose a headhunter who knows your industry well and has worked in that space for long. The headhunter should be a trusted career advisor who is able to assess your capabilities and also advise the various opportunities or career path that meets your aspiration. 

Always be professional and honest with your headhunter and expect the same from your headhunter. However, please remember that the headhunter is not obligated to divulge his or her client, or be responsible to look out for you. Most candidates mistake headhunters for a job agent and expect the headhunter to work for them. The truth is headhunters are paid by the client and they are obligated to serve the client first. However, some specialized headhunters will market your resume, if they truly believe you have the skills and expertise the market needs.
When there is a suitable vacancy, your headhunter will share the dossier of the job, the industry, maybe the ranking of his or her client in the competition and the location of the job if you are offered.
You should ask the headhunter, pertinent questions you want answered such as how did the vacancy come about, who would the incumbent be reporting to, the key skills the organization is looking for, if this is an individual contributor or will be supported by a team, etc. If the position became vacant due to a resignation, you could ask the reason for the resignation.

The headhunter may know the reason, if the client had shared with them. If you are keen to be considered, your headhunter will request for a copy of your resume. Be wary if your headhunter rushes you for your resume, without spending time talking to you about the opportunity.

It is important that you meet your headhunter for an interview, before your resume is submitted to the client. In the interview, your headhunter will discuss your experience and achievements, your wants and needs, amongst others, and map you to the role in hand. You know if you are working with an experienced headhunter when he or she asks you the right questions, and have no qualms to share with you, areas and skills you lack experience in and advise you on the next steps forward. If you have built a good relationship with your headhunter, they will share advice on career, compensation and other areas related to your career transition.

Your headhunter will provide you with information on the interview panel and their respective role in the interview. After each interview, make sure that you promptly call your headhunter to provide feedback, and ask for feedback from the client. When an offer is made, get the help of the headhunter to facilitate until a firm offer is received, signed and returned.

Remember, the headhunter is hired by his client, and given the mandate to put forward the best candidates for selection. While established headhunters would usually update you on the status, do not keep calling the headhunter for jobs as then, you will fall into the active candidates category and become less attractive to employers.

Finally, do not tarnish your reputation if you are out there just to get an offer, to get a salary increase from your current employer. This short-sighted approach will be detrimental to your own future.