Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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How to be Headhunted...


Let me start this post by saying that I am very happy in my current position and am not actively seeking a new career move.  

But then, that is exactly the position I was in when I was recruited for my current role.

But first, some background.

In a CIO's toolkit, the ability to be self-aware of one's principles, strengths, and weakness is foundational to success. I have taken practically every professional assessment known to leadership consultants (except for the surveys in the back of Cosmopolitan), and I have a pretty good understanding of how I'm wired.

I have a problem with the mundane, the ordinary, and the thought of coming in to work everyday just to keep things operating at the lowest possible cost makes me shiver.  The world needs managers. There are a lot of people gifted in the art of management.  They don't need me in the position because they wouldn't be happy with the results. 

I do have gifted managers on my team and rely on them heavily, but I know I excel at building an exceptional team and steering the ship into the future.

As such, I have always looked for significant challenges in my positions - starting a new software development company, putting the team together to support a brand new medical school based on a distributed delivery model, shepherding the turnaround of a large IT department, or having the opportunity to do IT in a way that people thought impossible.  I've had a good ride.

I've also been quite vocal in my Social Media activities about the wonderful things my teams have done, as well as share the lessons I've learned over the years.  I have a unique moniker, and as such, one can learn much about my professional life by entering my name into a search engine.

I'm easy to find.

Enter the headhunter...

In my last role, since it was so easy to find me, that I led IT at a large college,  and my skills and experience were somewhat of an open book, I would receive calls and emails from recruiters on a regular basis.

I recognize that recruiters are just doing their job when they approach, and as such, I would typically send them a polite 'no thank you' reply... and I would go on with my happy life.

My challenge is when I received a call from a recruiter who obviously took the time to research my background before the call, and presented me with an opportunity that checked off all the boxes in what I wanted out of a career.

It wasn't a quick process, mainly because I was happy where I was, and needed to be sure that the organization really understood the scope and challenge of what they were asking this new CIO position to do.  After going through a rigorous process of interviews and exercises, we came to an agreement and I started my current role. 

That was over seven years ago, so obviously the fit was good.

But I have shared all of this to make the following points.  If you are looking to advance your career through the services of a recruiting firm, you have to remember the following:

  • Recruiting firms work for their clients, not the candidates.  It is not about finding you a job, but finding the best client to fill the position.  I'm surprised that some 'long in the tooth' CIOs still have this misconception.
  • Being 'visible' on social media (beBee, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging) can truly help recruiters short list you as a candidate. The dry, fact filled resume on Workopolis is necessary, but doesn't provide a recruiter with a sense of who you really are.
  • Good recruiters do their homework.  As a potential candidate, it is obvious that you are dealing with a 'newbie' when you are presented with positions that have no connection with your skills or current role. I was convinced to go to the next step because there was a great match.

So, if you are looking to change your career, I would suggest that you do the obvious - send your resume to leading search firms, but better yet, that you ensure that your beBee and LinkedIn profiles are up to date and your social media presence reflects who you really are.

If you are a recruiter reading this... I am happy where I am, but that doesn't mean I won't have a discussion about an exceptional opportunity.


Image: Used under Creative Commons License

Please note that a version of this post was previously published on LinkedIn.

About the Author:

I’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee ( , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream 

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Phil Friedman

5 years ago #25

John, I've never before been called defensive -- offensive more than once, but...

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #24

Never said you don't John. We all do, obviously. But we all have to recognize that carries with it digital versions of the Zika virus. That is, the potential for causing microencephaly of the mind.

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #23

Yes, exactly Phil! This is what I meant when I said they play the numbers game -- they pick up the key words in a hurry and figure they will blast / shotgun a candidate out to see what hits. Just as bad as the horrible and ineffective human resources applicant tracking systems (ATS) out there.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #22

Wayne, the problem with the recruitment industry today is the overall low level of ability and ethics found among its soldiers (or better yet "pawns"). For these many thousands of drifters waste the time and mental and emotional energies of legitimate, earnest -- and often desperate -- job seekers. Witness the literally dozens of times I've been contacted about engineering jobs, from structural bridge work to electrical EE required, because my profile shows several years background in engineering management. Calls from people who don't have a clue about the difference between industrial engineering and nuclear engineering, let alone what an engineering manager is.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #21

You have to admit Phil, that it did make sense in a twisted bizarre way, if you take the pejorative view of the word 'socialist'...

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #20

Interesting auto-correct selection, eh?

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #19

socialNET, not socialist. Out, out, damnable autocorrector. !!!

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #18

No, Ken, because the vast majority of recruiters these days (because of what John Vaughan calls the "socialist") are simply out of work candidates marking time until they can find a "real" job. The movers and shakers in the recruitment industry play them as numbers, interchangeable, replaceable. And if only 1% hit, the Internet firm that "employs" them (as independent contractors) makes a bundle annually. Cheers!

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #17

You caught me on that one, Ken. Absolutely not!

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #16

Yes, Wayne, but would you let your daughter marry one of them? 😂

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #15

#12 #13 Here is something to think about: If experiences with recruiters are negative, consider what "branding messages" you are sending out via social media, including LinkedIn and beBee as well as others. I usually advise people to create a "personal brand" that is consistent with what you want to do or where you want to go next. Headhunters will find you - both good and bad -- but you attracted them, right? And they can be an asset or a liability. But in most if not all cases - they work for -- the money they get for placing you or finding for the company. This is why recruiters must have huge networks - they play the numbers game, spending the least amount of time to hammer in place a candidate for a company position. They don't get paid if the candidate is not placed. Does not matter whether or not they are good or bad employees, they function to get people hired. Then - on to the next commodity..... Don't get me wrong, I have many friends who are recruiters . . . .

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #14

Yes it can be possible!

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #13

I'll pass on the durian. I read your post and you can't fool me.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #12

Fair point, Kev. I guess a wise man asks where his coffee's 'bean'. Now can I offer you a nice ripe durian?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #11

There you go again Phil giving everyone a peek behind the green curtain. What I've refrained from saying (because I always try and be diplomatic at first) is that to a recruiter, you are a product to be traded, or to put it more bluntly, a piece of meat. Like any sales encounter, you are treated quite well if you have the potential to help make a deal happen. For real friendship, there are far better ways.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #10

. All of which may be, indeed, is absolutely true. But does not speak to my point. Which is that recruiters, including the "best" ones, are not your friends, whether you are an applicant or an employer. Independent (I hesitate to use the term "out-house") recruiters are intermediaries whose objective is to collect a fee. If you are a hot employee prospect, whom they are headhunting, their objective is to sell you on a job move. If you are an employer looking for an employee, their objective is to sell you on a hire. If a headhunter found you a good job, he or she is a hero in your eyes. If a headhunter found you a great employee, again he or she is a hero in your eyes. But let's not confuse sales prowess with friendship, care, or concern -- unless you can point to a recruiter who advised you not to take a job offer with an employer whom they represented, because they knew the situation would be a bad fit, or knew the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Cheers!

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #9

I'm not surprised that you haven't found your recruiting princess yet Ken. That's why if I was looking for a new position, they wouldn't be my go-to method as a job seeker. Sumatran coffee would be fine, as long as it didn't pass through a Civet cat first...

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #8

I've yet to have a good experience with recruiters, Kev. I've given up looking for a good apple in someone else's barrel of bruised apples, when I can pick one myself fresh off the tree. And why should I kiss any frogs anyway, when I know where to find the princess? Guess we'll have to differ on this subject. Now how about a nice cup of coffee?

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #7

Thanks Phil... see my response to Ken below (#9) Like too many fields, there is no barrier to entry to call oneself a recruiter. I could call myself a recruiter, a consultant, a writer, a photographer, a manager, a president (of a company, but looking at the race going on now, I'm not sure there is a bar there either). Finding a good recruiter is possible, but don't expect them all to be professionals. It reminds me of that fairy tale maxim... "You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a Prince".

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #6

Unlike dirt mechanics, there doesn't appear to be any barrier to entry (with regards to certifications or education) to call oneself a recruiter. As such, you will get a hodgepodge of experiences in working with these folks. Most of the calls I get are from the new kids, who look at my title and ask if I would consider a job across the country for half the salary. The recruiting firm that extracted me out of my last position were at the top end of the professional scale. Don't judge all recruiters by a bad experience.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #5

Kevin Pashuk - kudos for telling it like it is. Well, pretty much, anyway. You say, "Recruiting firms work for their clients, not the candidates. It is not about finding you a job, but finding the best client to fill the position." in reality, however, they don't. They work for themselves. I know of very few (zero to be exact) charitable, non-profit recruiting firms or practitioners. Outside of government employment offices. It's been a really lot of years since I worked for Acme Employment (progenitor of Robert Half) but I remember being told that a recruiter's greatest asset was a strong candidate who could be "reactivated" every couple to three years. And I knew at the time recruiters who made fat incomes placing the same candidates over and over again, after intervals that disguised the game. In my book, recruitment is an area full of misrepresentation and too many (not all) ethically-challenged, cynical users.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #4

Had some pretty bad experiences with recruiters, over the years, Kev, on both sides of the fence, looking to hire and looking to jump ship. Won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the Bataks of North Sumatra used to be 'headhunters' before the missionaries came along. 💀

don kerr

5 years ago #3

"Recruiting firms work for their clients, not the candidates." Very, very important and not well understood. I spend a year or so working as a headhunter (didn't much care for it BTW) and this was one of the toughest things to communicate to candidates. The toughest thing though was trying to convince prospective clients that a retainer fee arrangement was the best way to go. Didn't get a lot of that in the ad biz! Good advice here Kevin Pashuk and I'll forward you a few of those Cosmo surveys. Might surprise you what you learn!

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #2

No one knows / no way to tell, since they browse in private mode.

Wayne Yoshida

5 years ago #1

Excellent career management reminders from Kevin Pashuk

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