Headhunters (the vernacular term) should be part of your job search, but don't make the mistake of only relying on them. On average, recruiters only fill about 10% of all jobs. The following is some basic information that should be useful in understanding the recruiter's role.
Multiple Business Models
There are two basic categories of recruiters: retained and contingency. •Retained search firms work exclusively, and the client pays them a guaranteed fee for their services. •Contingency recruiters are only paid if they find a candidate that is hired by the client. Some contingency recruiters may work exclusively, but it's not unusual for clients to work with multiple recruiters for the same job. That's why you may get several calls for an opportunity.
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Recruiters are in the business of knowing where to look for qualified candidates, regardless of whether those candidates are actively seeking new jobs. •Candidate sources range from referrals to mining databases to cold calling someone in the same job at a different company. Professional social networks have become an increasingly popular sourcing tool. If the recruiter doesn't tell how they found you, ask. •Ways in which recruiters will reach out to candidates include their business phone, email, and social networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
How You Find Them
The same tools headhunters use to find you can be used to find them. And when you compile your headhunter list, take some time to do basic research. Keep in mind search firms generally specialize by category(ies) as well as by job level and/or salary level. Be strategic about your outreach and expectations.
•Research the individual recruiter's name and/or their company name. Take a look at their bios and client list if it's published on their site. Look for them on LinkedIn. Any legitimate recruiter should have ample information easily available online.
•Not all recruiters will agree to see you if they aren't working on a search that matches your background. If they won't meet you, try to at least get a phone appointment for a few minutes or, at minimum, e-mail your resume for inclusion in their database.
What Recruiters Do/Don't Do
•Don't expect a recruiter to write or rewrite your resume. Most are willing to make suggestions or point you in the direction of resume writers or information resources on resume writing. •Headhunters will sometimes offer you career advice or job search tips. However, if you're looking for help in figuring out what you want to do next, try a career counselor and expect to pay for their time. Some recruiting firms do offer counseling services, but again at a price.
Beware of Promises The growing unemployment rate has spawned a category of unscrupulous "so-called" recruiters. They take a fee from the candidate, promise resume help, career guidance, and a job. Major newspapers have run articles on job seekers that have written checks to these firms but haven't gotten results. I recently heard from a reader who made this mistake. It's a rough job market; it's hard for even the most well-connected to help their colleagues, friends or relatives get a job. Be suspicious of a stranger promising to do the same!