Headhunters. Are They The Ticket To A New Job?
Wouldn’t it just be so easy to call up a headhunter, otherwise known as a recruiter or executive search consultant, and give him or her your resume and say, “find me a job.” Well, generally it doesn’t work that way. First, let me tell you about the two types of recruiting firms. The first type works on retained searches. These are generally openings at the senior level ($150k+). These agencies get an up-front fee to find senior level people for an organization (CEOs, CFOs, Senior VPs, etc.). These firms have exclusivity over the search, meaning no other firm is also actively looking to fill this particular position. The most common type of recruiting agency works on a contingency basis. In this type of search, the agency only gets paid if their candidate actually gets the job. Multiple agencies may be working to fill the same position and contingent agencies tend to specialize in different industries.
So is working with a recruiter the way to go? Well, it depends. I would never discourage anyone from working with a recruiter, but you should know the dynamics of this relationship. The recruiter’s firm earns a fee from the employer. That means that the recruiter is working for the employer and not you. The recruiter is looking to fill an employer’s opening---they are not there to find you a job. Some job seekers confuse this. You will only be presented to an employer if you meet the specifications that the employer has put out for the search. Just because you think you are a fit or really want to work with a particular employer does not mean that the recruiter will present you in their slate of candidates. Yes, I said candidates. Most employers will want to see more than one candidate from a recruiter, so you resume, if it is presented, will likely be among several.
So what is my suggestion then? Use headhunters as part of your job search toolkit, but don’t rely solely on them. Do all the other things suggested for a job search—such as networking. It is important that you control your job search and do not put it solely in the hands of others.