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What You Need to Know About Headhunters

Since I talked last time about temporary employment agencies, I’d like to round out the conversation this time by discussing their close relative: the recruiting agency, or as they are better known – headhunters.

Let me state right up front that a good headhunter can indeed find a good job for you faster than you probably can yourself.  That is, if you have the exact qualifications that employers for whom they work are looking for.  Notice that I said “employers for whom they work.”

That’s right, although you may think the headhunter is working for you, in reality their loyalty is to the companies who have openings for which they are trying to fill.  Headhunters make their money from fees employers pay them for finding qualified candidates.  They are filling the employers need for a candidate, not your need for a job.  A subtle difference perhaps, but always remember that a headhunter’s most important relationship is with the employer, not you.

If you are the best and most qualified candidate for a particular opening they have a contract to fill, you will get the interview.  If another candidate is more qualified, they will get the interview.  Remember – the headhunter is first and foremost looking after the best interests of the employer.  Of course, if you are the most qualified candidate they have, then your interests and the employer’s interests are the same and everyone can win.

As a hiring manager, I have occasionally used headhunters over the years, but only for very hard to find skill sets.  Why?  Because headhunters are expensive to use.  The typical fee is 30% of the successful candidate’s first year salary.  That’s a hefty charge and is one of the reasons that less than three percent of all job openings are filled by headhunters.  But they can be more than worth their fee for high demand skills that are difficult to find.  If you possess one of these high demand skill sets, working with a headhunter can make you job search much easier.  Plus, a good headhunter can often help negotiate a larger starting salary and in that respect they are working for both your interest and their interest.

My bottom line here is that if you can find a good headhunter that is willing to take you on, by all means use them.  Just keep the following potential drawbacks in mind.

•    The headhunter is not your career consultant.  They job is meet the short-term needs of client companies.  This means that they only want to work with experienced candidates, preferably ones with high demand skills.
•    Headhunters usually have multiple candidates for the same job.  They will select the one they feel is most attractive to the employer and you may not know how – or if – you are being presented to the client.
•    Less experienced headhunters many distribute your resume in a broadcast manner without telling you.  This runs the risk of your current employer learning that you’re looking for a new job.
•    As I’ve said, headhunters represent only a very small percentage of jobs for which you may be qualified, so if you rely solely on them you will seriously limit your opportunities.

However, if you have the right experience and qualifications, a headhunter can do you a lot of good.  Just remember where their loyalties lie and don’t use them as your sole source for finding jobs.

Since I talked last time about temporary employment agencies, I’d like to round out the conversation this time by discussing their close relative: the recruiting agency, or as they are better known – headhunters.

 

Let me state right up front that a good headhunter can indeed find a good job for you faster than you probably can yourself.  That is, if you have the exact qualifications that employers for whom they work are looking for.  Notice that I said “employers for whom they work.” 

 

That’s right, although you may think the headhunter is working for you, in reality their loyalty is to the companies who have openings for which they are trying to fill.  Headhunters make their money from fees employers pay them for finding qualified candidates.  They are filling the employers need for a candidate, not your need for a job.  A subtle difference perhaps, but always remember that a headhunter’s most important relationship is with the employer, not you. 

 

If you are the best and most qualified candidate for a particular opening they have a contract to fill, you will get the interview.  If another candidate is more qualified, they will get the interview.  Remember – the headhunter is first and foremost looking after the best interests of the employer.  Of course, if you are the most qualified candidate they have, then your interests and the employer’s interests are the same and everyone can win.

 

As a hiring manager, I have occasionally used headhunters over the years, but only for very hard to find skill sets.  Why?  Because headhunters are expensive to use.  The typical fee is 30% of the successful candidate’s first year salary.  That’s a hefty charge and is one of the reasons that less than three percent of all job openings are filled by headhunters.  But they can be more than worth their fee for high demand skills that are difficult to find.  If you possess one of these high demand skill sets, working with a headhunter can make you job search much easier.  Plus, a good headhunter can often help negotiate a larger starting salary and in that respect they are working for both your interest and their interest. 

 

My bottom line here is that if you can find a good headhunter that is willing to take you on, by all means use them.  Just keep the following potential drawbacks in mind.

 

·         The headhunter is not your career consultant.  They job is meet the short-term needs of client companies.  This means that they only want to work with experienced candidates, preferably ones with high demand skills.

·         Headhunters usually have multiple candidates for the same job.  They will select the one they feel is most attractive to the employer and you may not know how – or if – you are being presented to the client.

·         Less experienced headhunters many distribute your resume in a broadcast manner without telling you.  This runs the risk of your current employer learning that you’re looking for a new job.

·         As I’ve said, headhunters represent only a very small percentage of jobs for which you may be qualified, so if you rely solely on them you will seriously limit your opportunities.

 

However, if you have the right experience and qualifications, a headhunter can do you a lot of good.  Just remember where their loyalties lie and don’t use them as your sole source for finding jobs.

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