What about headhunters?  


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Joined: 10 years ago
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December 15, 2020 8:33 pm  

Hello Everyone!

This month I wanted to speak from some personal experience.

I am part of a facebook group for professional recruiters, and it encompasses all types of recruiters: Internal, third party recruiters ( TPR) and anyone else that works on acquiring talent for companies. Myself, I have been a TPR, and now I am an internal corporate recruiter at my day job.

What prompted this months blog is an incident that happened recently in the group. - Somehow, a random job seeker joined the page, and apparently his expectation was that he would get help landing a position somewhere.

I had no idea the guy even existed, until a post appeared that basically said “ I am leaving the group, I have been here for a few months, and have received zero help finding a job” Well then.. let's cover a few things.. one, as always, pay attention to the purpose of the FB groups you this instance,  the group is for recruiters to talk about recruiter stuff, not function as a job board.

Two, all job seekers need to know what recruiters do, and how they work. First, let's look at the type of recruiters you can encounter out there:

1) Internal: These people are employees of the companies you want to talk to.. they screen resumes, and sometimes actively solicit people to join their company. They are a function of the HR department.
2) Third Party, or TPR: These folks are the independent recruiters, also known as headhunters...they can either work alone, or are part of a search firm that specializes in specific job titles, or specific industries, or they could be generalists, working on anything and everything, but still having specific requirements and roles to fill.

Some coaches who talk about this subject think it's important to delineate between “retained” and contingency” search firms but that doesn't mean anything to you, that is only a descriptor of how they get paid.. both types of firms interact with you the job seeker the exact same way, regardless.

Also, understand, we at the Five O'Clock Club teach that there are four methods to get interviews.. they are replying to ads, networking, direct contact, and search firms.

Of all these, search firms give you your LOWEST chance of success landing a position.

This is for several reasons, and this is why they frustrate you:
1) Recruiters are looking for specific resumes to fill specific roles – if that's not you, your phone won't ring. Doesn't matter who you are.
2) Even if you find a headhunter who works in your industry, if your resume doesn't explain what you do clearly and concisely, your phone won't ring.. they spend less time looking at resumes than their corporate counterparts do.
3) Recruiters don't get paid to care about you. Any mistake you make, any errors in how you present yourself, and it's NEXT and they move on.
4) Your success with a headhunter depends on timing.. lightning has to strike as far as him having an opportunity that is for you, when you need one.
5) If you send them a resume and they can't use you, or can't make heads or tails about what you do, they won't call you and say so.

So, to wrap up this month, these are the reasons headhunters will disappoint you, so don't rely on them too much. Next month I will talk about the right way to approach and work with and manage your expectations regarding headhunters, and also their corporate counterparts.

Until next time, I wish you all the best

Coach Tom

Dick Woodward
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 282
December 16, 2020 2:38 pm  

An interesting article on dealing with recruiters can be found at

(fell disclosure -  I am a co-author).


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December 16, 2020 10:04 pm  

Thank you Dick.  I have read this article before but it is worth re-reading.

Dave Jensen
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Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 945
December 26, 2020 6:37 pm  

THANKS for pointing out our golden oldie, Dick. I hope you and our other readers are enjoying the year end holidays and that 2021 will be better for all of us,


Dave Jensen

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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Posts: 643
December 28, 2020 8:51 am  

Excellent post by Coach Tom.

I'll add a few comments - but let me disclose the majority of my jobs/companies, all being permanent FTE roles, have been via recruiters, for all but 2 of those jobs,  they called me first (the generally found my profile on LinkedIn). The others, I applied..via the recruiter.   

On point 3:  I have seen point of confusion here on the forum over the years on this, but this is the fact. They are not paid to care about you, or nuture, or mentor you. Allow me to expand: they don't need to do anything for you at all, what so ever!  This seems to be unclear.  IF and ONLY IF they want to, they can, and if one finds a recruiter that is willing to do above an beyond to give you some mentoring advice and feedback, then be grateful to that recruiter.  Listen to them. You decide if you value their advice or not. If you don't, then fine, toss the information and move on.   

On point 4: Timing. This is my career experience, when a recruiter has called me, AND I have take a decision to proceed with the opportunity they have presenting to me, I call it an "alignment of the stars".  Or a bit of Luck.  Now Luck, as it is been quoted, is when opportunity meets preparation, and in those cases, on MY side, I was prepared with the experience I was carrying that then allowed for consideration and competitiveness for the opportunity that was in front of me.  In other words, that preparation is not passive, but active in terms of career, experience, competency, competitive-edge building.   And most importantly, I was in a state of "readiness" or I was open to exploring a new role. Most times I was "passive" in terms of not really looking for a job but I had "readiness" and that's a really good spot to be as a job-seeker. 

So when that recruiter called,  well, stars aligned, lightening struck and well rock and roll.   That's not to say all opportunities panned out, not at all, but, some do, as in my case and yours too.  

There is one more point to consider not mentioned anywhere here in the posts but indirectly hinted to using the term "networking".   

A!  They have a job to do. They have a family, they have their stresses, as do you. Treat them with respect, try build a relationship - and I bet you find something quite rewarding, beyond talking about a job. Not all will be interested in a relationship but some will be, that's normal.  Don't abuse it if you find it.

Anyways, we look to 2021 - be safe, and be it a year for you of transition or new job, or exploration, may the year bring all you're looking for.