Myths – Headhunters get jobs for candidates

28 August 2007 at 7:34AM Leave a comment

Every few weeks I get a letter like this from a close or distant acquaintance:

I am not getting much traction in my job search. I’m wondering if it might be in my best interest to hook up with a good recruiter in the metro area who could help move things along. I’d be interested in your thoughts and if you have any recommendations.

The first time this happened to me, I was an IT Services headhunter, and the plea came from an attractive female thermal engineer. My “Rescue the Damsel in Distress” gene kicked in, and I burned some irretrievable hours trying to help. All I learned is that thermal engineering is a narrow discipline. Nobody would pay me for one.

Almost a year ago, Carl Chapman dealt with this topic in an excellent post that every job seeker should read: Recruiting Myths – Recruiters get jobs for candidates.

Today we deal with a long enduring misconception on the part of the job seeker, that recruiters are in business to get candidates jobs.


[Emphasis mine]

Carl’s article refers to 3rd party recruiters, a.k.a. headhunters, just like I was. Every candidate should read the whole article. The money ‘graph is this one:

What does this mean for the job seeker? Well, it means that you are no longer the client… you are now the product. The recruiter isn’t being paid by you, he is being paid by the company. The recruiter doesn’t earn money for finding you a job, he earns money for filling an open position with his client company. (boldface in original)

The other money quote isn’t in there, because Carl is too polite. It was Robert A. Heinlein who put this message in an acronym in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress“: TANSTAAFL (Milton Friedman said it too): There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

With that in mind, I’ll answer my friend’s question:

  1. Yes. It is in your interest to hook up with a 3rd party recruiter a.k.a. headhunter. For best results, work with one who knows your industry and specialty.
  2. You must realize that the headhunter won’t be working for you. S/he is working for the client. Set your expectations accordingly. Carl suggests remembering that “recruiters are working against your best interest, at times, because they are creating competition for you.”
  3. Sorry to say, I don’t know a headhunter that specializes in your field and industry. I’m sure they are out there, but I’ve not had a chance to use them. You might find one through your personal network.
  4. As Carl says, “This is a time when your mutual interests are perfectly aligned, so make sure to take advantage of that fact.” But don’t be the farm on the first call you make.

My snippets can’t do justice to Carl’s work. Check out the whole article.


Entry filed under: The Art of Recruiting, Tips. Tags: , , , .

How Not to Get a Job: Bad Cover Letter/Bad Presence Guy: How to Not Hire Someone Via Craigslist

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My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.


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