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Tips from a headhunter: "You need to tell a story of excellence and solid career growth"

March 25, 2019
Mandy Edmund,
COO and Co-Founder of SWING Search & Talent

Mandy Edmund, COO and Co-Founder of SWING Search & Talent, explains what makes high potential talent stand out, and how SWING finds them.

Precision and polish – it’s Mandy Edmund’s simple advice for getting noticed and landing that next big job. Of course, there are plenty of factors outside of your control when it comes to standing out in a digital marketplace where everyone is screaming for attention. But ultimately, recruiters like her are looking for people who have drive and ambition, and who can communicate it too.

Edmund is COO and Co-Founder of SWING Search & Talent, a recruiting agency that partners with high-growth technology startups backed by some of the world’s most prominent VC investors. Their focus is first-time Directors up to VP-level leadership roles across marketing, sales, growth, product and customer success.

She explains what makes high potential talent stand out, and how SWING finds them.

Hey Mandy, so what are the best ways to stand out and get noticed by recruiters and employers?

Knowing what you want. So, being able to clearly communicate what you’re looking for in your next move, what your strengths are and, most importantly, your story. You need to tell a story of excellence and solid career growth in person, in your resume and on LinkedIn. No matter what job you have, make sure your references are golden, so make sure you leave the right way – it’s a small world.

So you need to be precise in what you’re looking for and polished in your execution, which means dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s. And be normal! We try to coach people that, whoever you are, be more of it. It’s creepy when you try to be someone else, and it always comes out in the third stage interview.

SWING specialises in finding high potential talent. What sets these people apart?

The majority of our clients are startups, so as such, some of the qualities and experience that these startups and their boards are looking for are what we call “startup DNA.” This means someone who has joined a startup at a critical growth phase that led it to an acquisition or going public. Someone who has worked on small lean teams and understands the meaning of being scrappy because they accomplished a lot with little resources. Someone who is dynamic, nimble and is a generalist, meaning they can wear many hats, jump into different roles if needed, and not afraid to be hands on. They know how to strike that balance between getting the work done and having a strategic vision.

So it can pay off to take a risk early in your career and move to a smaller company to make a bigger impact?

For sure. It’s not necessarily bad to join a startup that fails. It’s normal. You just need to tell your story for every move you make: who hired you, who backed you, and what were your accomplishments during your time there. We are looking for people who joined companies as they were growing, and who helped build them out. What makes people high potential is the point at which they joined the company and its subsequent period of growth.

Any advice for people on the lookout to get that next great job?

One of the trends I see is that people are bad at pitching themselves because they only change jobs every three or four years. It’s not something people practice. I teach people to be raw and real and have good storytelling. At the end of the day, technology may help you be more visible, but you have to understand what people are looking for and deliver.