One of the most common questions I receive from job seekers is, “What is a headhunter and should I use one?” I hope I can break it down for you here and demystify this profession.
When you’re job searching, you’ll hear a number of terms to describe people who will help you to look for work. One is recruiter. One is headhunter. Others are placement agency or placement firm. You may even hear someone described as an internal recruiter versus an external recruiter. Are you confused yet?
An internal recruiter is one that works for the company you’re apply to work for. They may source (find) candidates for the hiring manager (the future boss). Very often, they do the first official company screening call. They’re also the ones that help to shepherd you through the interview process. At the end of the search, they’re also often the person you’ll be negotiating a job offer with.
But, there are times when the company wants to (or needs to) enlist a little extra help with their search for great candidates. When this happens, they’ll hire external recruiters. External recruiters are sometimes called headhunters. You’ll find that external recruiters either work for a recruiting firm or staffing agency – or they may be independent.
A few well known staffing agencies are Robert Half and Korn Ferry. There are many more national agencies, and local agencies that you can pick from.
There are a few times when recruiters seem to be the most helpful: in senior level executive searches, for contract work, and for technology jobs.
If you choose to work with an external recruiter, there are a few things you need to know. First, they should be free for you to use. The company pays the recruiter for their services. This is great news, but remember – the recruiter works for the company. They may seem nice, but every call with them is an interview.
Another thing is, most recruiters will force you to disclose either your salary history or your future salary requirements. If you’re looking for a contract role, this is an hourly number. Be prepared with how you want to answer the question.
Recruiters say they’ll help you negotiate. The more you get paid, the more they get paid. This is true, but – there’s more. Think of how a realtor works to sell a house. If the house sells for $10,000 more or less, the realtor’s commission is only marginally impacted. The same thing applies to recruiters. Their number one goal is to form a match between a company and a job seeker. The exact amount of money is less important.
Headhunters can be a valuable resource to your job search. But, don’t make them your only resource. Keep looking on your own. And, keep checking in with the recruiters if you don’t hear back. If you don’t stay in touch, they’ll assume you found a job.
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Applying for a job seems like a fair process. You apply online, and if you’re a good fit for the job, the company will give you a call. You’ll go in person for an interview and show your expertise. Then, the company will carefully decide who the most qualified person is.
When you don’t land the job, despite being extremely qualified, it can leave you wondering what you’re doing wrong. “Why didn’t the company hire me? What could I have done differently?”
The issue is, not everything is really as it seems in the world of hiring. There are a number of things the recruiter won’t (and often can’t) reveal to you when you’re interviewing for a job.
The hiring manager has a preselected candidate. Sometimes this person is internal, and sometimes they come from the outside. It’s not uncommon for the hiring manager to have someone picked out before you get there. But, the company continues with your interview. This is often because they need to meet their internal process requirements around hiring.
The position has been put on hold. I have seen this more times than I care to count. A company is midway through the hiring process. They have already started interviewing candidates. Then, something happens to put the brakes on the entire thing. Perhaps, they have run out of funding, and a hiring freeze has gone into effect. Or, it’s possible that the hiring manager has moved to another department, or has left the company completely. The big boss doesn’t want to move forward until a new hiring manager is in place, so they can make the final call.
The company is reworking the role. If a role is new, it’s possible that after the hiring manager conducted a few interviews, they realized that their expectations were a little off. Perhaps they want to find someone with a slightly different skillset. Or, they may have realized that the talent they’ve interviewed is a bit outside of their price range. Whatever the reason, they’ve pulled the job posting down and are going through the process to come up with a new, refined role.
The organization moves slowly. This one is always a big surprise. Perhaps you had a great interview and were told you would hear something within a week. Then, nothing happened. You assumed the job was completely lost until a few months later, someone from the company calls for a follow up interview.
Your best chance of landing a job is to practice and prepare. But, if you don’t receive a job offer, don’t assume it is 100% your fault. The company has a number of things going on behind the scenes that will impact whether or not you’re hired. Unfortunately, they will rarely disclose these issues to you.
Rather than focusing on failures, use them as practice to prepare for the next big interview!
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.
Episode 156 is live! This week, we talk with Christine Laird in Oklahoma City, OK. Christine is the Manager of Talent and Business Growth at the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Previously, she was a Senior Recruiter for Kelly Services where she was consistently recognized as a top performer both regionally and nationally.
On today’s episode, Christine shares:
The pros and cons of working with an external placement agency
How to effectively work with an external recruiter
How to handle salary challenges during the negotiation process
How to follow up with the recruiter, even if we don’t get a job
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send me your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
I hope your 2018 is off to an excellent start! I hope you had a great holiday season and are making progress on your New Year’s resolutions.
This is my New Year’s resolution! I wrote to you last November to say I’m expanding my career services. This email is a follow up to that message, to provide more information.
First, you should know that I am continuing to focus on career coaching. If you are an individual job seeker, nothing will change for you. I look forward to continuing to support you through your job search in 2018 the same as in 2017.
If you are a hiring manager, I am now available to help with your corporate recruiting and placement. And, if your organization is going through a restructuring and you would like help with your impacted employees, I now offer outplacement services. I will also continue to offer public speaking and classroom teaching.
A number of folks have asked WHY I have decided to expand my services. The answer is this. For some time, I have been providing corporate outplacement services to organizations that have gone through layoffs. I’ve met with a number of large groups and have worked with individuals at some of the organizations you’ve heard about on the news. But, before now, I haven’t publicized this information. Similarly, for the last four years, hiring managers have leaned on me for help when they need to find great candidates. In other words, these are services I have been providing, but had not officially announced.
If I can help your organization, please don’t hesitate to email me, or to call me at 901-878-9758. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also learn more about my corporate outplacement services and corporate recruiting services on my website (where you will also find downloadable PDFs about each).
Again, if you are an individual job seeker, nothing will change. I look forward to helping you to achieve your goals in 2018 through career coaching!
My current list of career services includes:
Individual career coaching
Corporate outplacement services
Corporate recruiting services
Corporate public speaking
Thank you for all your support! And, thank you for pushing me to expand my service offering. I couldn’t have done this without you.
Have you ever received a call from a headhunter or recruiter out of the blue? Sometimes, they’ll call your work phone and leave a voicemail you weren’t expecting. They’re recruiting for a new position. It’s one you haven’t heard about, but they want to speak to you. You don’t even know how they got your name, or your phone number. The recruiter says, “I have a new position I’m trying to fill. I wanted to reach out to see if you know anyone who might be interested.”
It’s always a strange call to receive because it’s such a surprise. If you’re like many people, you may start to run through the list of your friends ‘might be interested.’ But, here’s the thing. When the headhunter asks if you know someone who might be interested, they’re really asking if you might be interested. It’s a polite way of asking if you would want to be interviewed for the job. They only want to know if you have a friend if you aren’t interested.
Once you realize the real question, you’ll probably try to decide which response you want to give. You may initially want to say you aren’t interested. You aren’t looking for a job right now. Things are just fine at work. Or, if you are looking, you may want to say no because you don’t have enough information. You haven’t seen a job description. You don’t know how much the job pays or where it’s located. You don’t know much about the company.
But, when you aren’t looking for a job can often be the perfect time to find one. It means that things at your current job are probably going pretty well. And, if that’s the case, you’ll have more leverage if you do land a job offer. You won’t feel pressured to take something that’s not the right fit if you have a job that’s going just fine.
Still not sure if the job is for you? The best way to find out is to have the interview. When the recruiter asks if you know anyone, let them know that you would like to learn more. You would be interested to speak with the hiring manager. Then, before you interview, ask for the job description and research the company. During the interview, ask questions to learn more.
Very often, job seekers tell me that they don’t want to waste the company’s time. If the job didn’t end up being the right fit, they would feel guilty. But, why? The company will interview many candidates who won’t end up being the right fit. But, they wouldn’t know who to hire if they didn’t interview them. How is going to an interview any different? And, how will you know whether or not a job is for you if you don’t learn more?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is this: “Always take the first interview.” You really never know where it might lead you.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.