Four Things To Know When Working With A HeadHunter

As someone who has been on both sides (job seeker and executive recruiter) I can tell you, working with a search firm can be a daunting task for the uninitiated. “I liken it to working with an attorney or a doctor. You don't use or need a recruiter (or an attorney) every day, but by the time you need one, it is often because you're in a situation that you can't get out of on your own and need professional help. You may have general or vague idea what they do, but don't know exactly who to use or why one is better than another.

You may not even know how to find one and then how to get them to pay attention to you.” So today, I’m going to offer you a quick glimpse behind the "Great and powerful Oz's" curtain so you can understand four key points in working with a recruiter. .....

1.) Good recruiters are specialists  


The majority of recruiters (or at least the really good ones you want) focus or specialize on a particular industry or job function. If you need brain surgery do you go to your internist? Of course not. When it comes to recruiters one size does not fit all. Seek those that consistently and exclusively work in your industry or recruit people at your same level or position. Ask them what their focus is. More often than not, if they can't help you, they can point you to a colleague or contact in the recruiting world who does focus on your area.

2.) Be specific on what you do, what you want and where you want to do it.

Recruiters are not outplacement professionals or career counselors. (although we can offer guidance because we know the market and what works) We are matchmakers, connectors and dealmakers. We are trying to connect the dots between you and our clients. Help us do that by making things simple and direct and know what you want. Think like a journalism student and use the five W's - (Who, What, When, Where, Why) to give the recruiter a snapshot of who you are, what you do, whenyou want to land, where you want to be and why you are making a transition.) Some of the worst things a candidate can do is to be "open to anything", "willing to go anywhere" or "be willing to learn something quickly." Being the multi-talented go getter who can play all positions sounds great...but in reality, clients want tried and true and proven. Most think in a linear fashion.  If my client wants a CFO and you say, "Well I'm a COO, but I can do that." Great, I'm sure you can...but meanwhile I have 3 people who ARE CFO's and who ARE doing that. It is like the athlete who wants to be an actor. You might be able to act, but people are going to hire you because of how well you play ball. Know who you are and what you want. It is your job to communicate that to the recruiter.

3.)Email THEN phone call. - DO NOT, let me repeat, DO NOT call without having sent your resume and information first. 


Be respectful of their time and provide the information and resume ahead of time. Front load your information and give the recruiter a quick snapshot of who you are. Don't make a recruiter dig for it through flowery narrative in a letter or clever phrasing.  Suggest a follow up time. This way you can maximize your time when you do speak with each other, and if the recruiter is not right for you, he or she can respond accordingly and steer you in the right direction. And please do NOT send it to them as a blast with 15 hiring managers and recruiters emails in the cc line. You want a recruiter to treat you as a special individual, then don't shotgun yourself to the entire market and expect special treatment. 

4.) It is a matter of timing. Sometimes a no simply means, "Not now."   


I know that when you are ready to make a move or needing to find a new position, time seems to stand still...but remember that your timing does not constitute an emergency or priority on the recruiter’s behalf. Top of mind presence is key for when an opportunity does come up. It can be a case of where the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Stay in touch in regular intervals, but don't stalk them and call several times a week...(or several times a day as I've had some do) Keep it to every 4 weeks or so. Just because there is not a fit today does not mean that there won't be an opportunity two weeks or two months from now. 

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