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What to Consider When Using a Headhunter During a Job Search

Headhunters are great to have as among your friends and acquaintances in growing your job network. Make sure you have two or more headhunters in your regular work contacts. And consider building great relationships with them. Make them aware if you’re on the look out for a job in the market. They’re usually among the best sources of latest information (not posted on job ads) on what’s been taking place in the labor market, particularly the jobs available that call for certain particulars on background, depth and breadth of experience – even in a down market. But keep in mind the following (which this author culled from his own experiences doing headhunting with a small firm, immediately after college):

1) HEADHUNTERS WORK FOR THE INTERESTS OF THEIR CLIENTS. Their clients are the ones who pay them their fees to keep their businesses going and growing. As such, they’re always on the look out for applicants to successfully place candidates for their clients. The faster they’re able to complete these assignments, the better. This is another gauge for clients to keep on giving headhunters succeeding assignments (preferably on an exclusive arrangement). As such, you may subsequently be treated like a commodity on which their best hopes (based on their expertise and experience) are rested (or wagered) so they can do their next billing.

2) WHEN TO MEET WITH A HEADHUNTER. The best period to meet and know headhunters is when you’re still employed, and doing very good in your job. As such, your resume looks better to prospective employers when you’re currently employed. This also gets you, as a job hunter, to be in an advantageous position to negotiate for a better package. Ask any headhunter about this observation, and they’ll usually say “it depends.” However, the best match for a job and a candidate happens usually with someone who’s still employed. Competitors among players in the same industry who use headhunters usually have the ideal or the near-ideal candidate they have in mind who are currently employed by their competitors – or else they could have easily done the recruitment themselves.

3) SOME HEADHUNTERS SPECIALIZE BY INDUSTRY, OR BY LOCATION. The job hunter has to approach headhunters who may be specializing in industry/ies where the job hunter is targeting to get into. But in case you’ve known a certain headhunter, it’s best to approach this headhunter to introduce your credentials and background to him / her. The headhunter may give you referrals to their other contacts in their business.

4) HEADHUNTERS’ ETHICAL PRACTICES. Headhunters don’t “headhunt,” or poach prospective candidates from their own clients (or where they have previously made a successful placement), for this creates a lasting poor impression on clients. If you are aware that your current employer makes use of certain headhunters, it’s very helpful to make the approach, meet and know the headhunter in case you decide you’re in the market. The headhunter may then be able to consider you as a prospective candidate – as you are the one who approached (and not the other way around).

5) SOME ACCOUNTS ARE ON A BEST-EFFORTS BASIS. This means a “job requirement” in a client-company has been waiting for referrals from several headhunting groups, or even from the own recruitment being done by the client-company. As such, there may be several headhunters working to make a successful placement of a candidate. Ask the headhunter you’re talking with about this, so you, as a job hunter won’t be disappointed when recruitment and placement completes so fast (or so slow, depending on certain situations).

6) SOME HEADHUNTING GROUPS HAVE SPECIALIZED PERSONNEL. Some of them have a lean number of people working for them. Depending on the structure of their organization, some have people who do both marketing (of the headhunting services to clients), and the search services (“hunting” for prospective candidates). Some headhunting groups usually have their marketing people getting in touch with you as among their prospective candidates for a search assignment. But they won’t know much about the job details. If you agreed to come over for an initial interview (which some headhunting groups still do), you’ll be asked to talk with a recruitment specialist who will then conduct the interview. Your next step is gather more about the job, if this happens – so that you can decide if you will pursue the opportunity or not.

7) THE BEST HEADHUNTERS ARE USUALLY AMONG THE BEST MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS IN THEIR FIELDS. They provide the best search specialty advise, the best matching services (between a job vacancy and a candidate) in terms of their capabilities in showing two or more candidates for a shortlist within reasonable period of time. However, not every one among headhunters is able to do this. Some of them may just still be learning the ropes of this type of consulting business.

8) COMPLETION OF PROJECT. The headhunting process may take a minimum of 4 weeks of processing before completion. Expect to spend time waiting before a job is offered to you, if you get the opportunity to be interviewed and shortlisted (i.e. among the top candidates, usually not more than 4 candidates) for a job.

9) SEEK HELP FROM HEADHUNTERS FOR YOUR NEXT MANAGERIAL JOB. Headhunters have to be worth their fees so that their client-companies would be most willing to pay them big professional fees. Usually, client-companies will just be willing to pay such amounts for higher level recruitment, of which the headhunter is best suited to handle.

10) BACKGROUND OF HEADHUNTERS. Some headhunters and clients belong to the same “old boys network,” those who have the same (social) backgrounds. Members or insiders play “chummy-chummy” with each other, just like in other exclusive groupings. Figure out how to penetrate their circle. This will be a key for you in getting access to high-level job opportunities usually available to those who are in-the-know.

And don’t get surprised if you’ll be asked to show up for interviews with several clients, even if you’re not that keen to get into a new job now. The headhunter may be seeing you as possessing great potentials to get placed (i.e. offered a job). Headhunters run a business, remember.

I write mostly about changes, and issues revolving around moving-on themes. You may read more about them, mostly written in a personal but daring viewpoint, in these links. http://www.jeromebaladad.com/ – http://takingleadnow.blogspot.com/