The most common complaint among job seekers is not hearing back from companies or recruiters when they send out their resume or make calls. So what can you do to stand out from the rest of the pack when it comes to working with a headhunter?
According to this article in Forbes, Headhunting the Headhunter, you should develop relationships with a headhunters who specialize in your field, use your network to find them, increase your industry visibility, and maintain positive relationships by being nice when bothered and recommending others for positions that might not be a fit for you.
Find a recruiter who specializes in your industry. Ask your industry colleagues who they've worked with in the past. Take a look at industry job boards, mainstream job sites, or simply Google search to find a specialty firm. It's important to note, not all firms use job boards to recruit. I haven't posted a PR job online on an external job board for years.
Get an introduction. Have a friend or colleague who works with the headhunter make an email introduction. Recruiter's tend to follow up with referrals more often than a generic email. If someone refers someone to me, I always feel obligated to follow up even if I don't have a position right now.
Increase your online visibility and social media savvy. Make sure you have a LinkedIN and Facebook profile and use it to reach out. If you contact me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. directly and interact with me online, you have my attention.
Don't treat the headhunter like a pest
Maintaining a relationship with a headhunter even in good times is a smart idea. If you get a call and you aren't in the position to make a move or you're receiving a lot of calls from headhunters who don't seem to have a clue, there's a right way and a wrong way to decline the conversation. Accept the call and explain your situation and if you don't want to be contacted at work, leave your cell phone number and personal email address. You most likely won't be at the same job for the rest of your working career and it's better to be remembered as professional than a jerk (we keep detailed notes).