Oldies are goldies: I have written the first version of this post in May 2011 and it is one of the most viral ones, being published in print and online by careerbuilder, msn careers, businessinsider, several print media as well as – without my approval – on many obscure sites. Here is a revised version on how to use a headhunter in the most efficient way for your career:
Many job-seekers are reluctant to use a professional recruiter. I consider this a mistake as a good headhunter has inside information and knows of jobs that will never be advertised and inside information you can never achieve from the outside.
Here are 8 tips on how to use a headhunter – written by a headhunter:
- Prefer a specialist to a generalist: If you work in banking, find a headhunter who deals with banking people all day long as s/he will have a solid understanding of what you are talking about, what the client is looking for and how to councel you best.
- Be careful: Do not give out confidential information about you or your employer on the phone without having met the headhunter or knowing who their customer is. There are some black sheep out there that are collecting resumes without an assignment. Find furthermore out how your headhunter works: if s/he sends out resumes without asking you or if they send “candidate flashes”, I would personally change the headhunter.
- Be rare: Do not work with more than 3 headhunters. We try not to present a candidate who has already been sent by our competitor. You, on the other hand, will make a desperate impression if this happens.
- Be prepared: I see candidates being late for the interview, badly dressed or with an outdated resume to the interview and then tell me “You know, this is only because you are the recruiter. I would never do that for the real interview”… Prepare your interview well, google us beforehand, meet us on eye-level and you will impress us and motivate us to do all for you.
- Be honest: Do not lie to us as we will probably discover the truth through questioning or ref checks. I immediately stop the interview and blacklist the candidate when s/he is lying to me (usually when it is about the reasons for leaving or the last salary). We can talk about anything and if there are bumpy parts in your career, we will sort out how to explain them to our customer. But we must know.
- Like us or leave us: Sympathy is an easy thing: If you do not like us, this will probably be the same vice versa. I rarely placed candidates I did not like. We are networker, sales people and if we like you, we will have a more convincing pitch. If you do not trust or like your recruiter, meet a competitor and ask the first one to delete you from his records.
- Use us: A good headhunter will give you feedback on your presentation, your resume and will brief you thoroughly on the client including the people you will meet there. We know what the biggest challenges will be, what it takes to succeed in this given company and why the job is vacant. We have met your potential boss long before you do. Maybe we have even met former employees and know the weak parts of this organization. Ask for this information if your headhunter does not give it.
- Keep in touch: Even successful headhunters place only 10% of the candidates they meet. Maybe you will not get the job you applied for – but you should do everything to make sure you get the next one that comes along. The biggest lie headhunters tell every day is “I will call you next Monday”. 9.5 out of 10 times they do not. If we do not call you, be strong and remind us in a gentle yet persistent way every other week of you: call us, send a message via LinkedIn, another time write an email.
Conclusion: A good headhunter with good values and business ethics can be far more efficient in your job search than you. His or her job is to find one for you. Do not forget that we have the same goal: if you get the job, we get the money. Use us wisely and we can be a catalyst for your career.