Working with Executive Recruiters or "Headhunters"

By Pat Meehan

Executive recruiters, often known as “Headhunters,” are independent contractors. They are hired by companies to search for talented candidates that possess the skills and experience required to fill job vacancies for key positions within the companies that hire them. With manufacturing and other industry jobs on the rise, you may get a call from a headhunter soon.

A good recruiter can be your best friend when making a career move. Recruiters are also a part of the unadvertised job market. Although they do run ads on internet job boards and in newspapers, headhunters are very proactive in seeking and finding talent. Because they are proactive, they are accountable people and therefore, you will want to work with them as part of your self-marketing program.

How can you tell if a recruiter is a good one or a bad one?
There are many books that have tried to make this distinction. However, it is a very easy one to make. As a person who has chosen accountability as a way of life, your keen sense of self-awareness should enable you to quickly identify relationship-oriented people. You will easily be able to distinguish between recruiters who are relationship building ones from those who are not. As a self-aware person, you can rely on your gut instinct to work with recruiters that you have identified as proactive and relationship oriented. Good recruiters are excellent relationship building people and they can help you immensely.

When you work with a recruiter, you should be very cooperative in providing information about yourself. Recruiters work very hard to match your talents, experience, and personal goals to the requirements and specifications of their client companies’ job vacancies. Recruiters work on straight commission and they only win financially when they match both the employer and the employee together. It is very important for you to cooperate with your recruiter by providing all of the information that he/she needs in the areas of your current and desired salary, relocation spots that you are open to, family issues that may present concerns in a job change, and any other pertinent information that may come into play in a career move.

Recruiters are the only exception in which you must openly share your current salary as well as your salary expectations for your next career move. A recruiter can’t and won’t present you to his/her client company without this information. Therefore, be cooperative and extremely truthful as they will try to help you get to where you want to go based on the information you provide them.

The term ‘executive recruiter’ can be misleading, as the term might imply that they only work with top executives. To the contrary, recruiters/headhunters actually seek all levels of employment, from first line supervision to top management. Working with a recruiter is a great networking opportunity and like everything else in life, it requires a high level of relationship building and networking capability on your part.

Building a good relationship with a recruiter may be a very valuable experience, not only in your current job search, but it may become a lifelong relationship that produces a continuum of benefits for you in your “Career of a Lifetime.”

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