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Job Search and Headhunters (aka Recruiters)

Posted on the 08 February 2013 by Asuccessfulcareer

The subject of using headhunters (aka recruiters) in a job search comes up from time to time. I guess some jobseekers view it as a possible magic bullet in the job search. I have written at least one post in the past about this subject. However, recently a couple of clients have asked me questions about using headhunters in a job search, so I decided it was time to revisit this topic.

Recruiters Don’t Find You a Job

I sometimes mistakenly assume that everyone these days knows recruiters don’t go out and find jobs for you. Evidently, there are still people who don’t know that, just as there are people who think Twitter is what birds do. So let’s explode that myth from the start. You can’t march up to a recruiter (figuratively speaking) and say, “I need you to find me a great job…and soon.” Well, you could, but it’s probably a quick way to get yourself shown the door (again, figuratively speaking, unless you actually had the nerve to try that approach in person!).

Think about it. If you were a recruiter, would you appreciate having people come at you from all directions, each one thinking he or she is the answer to your prayer or expecting you to pull a rabbit (job) out of a hat for him or her? Recruiters need to find hot candidates for specific search assignments (retained search) or open positions they know about (contingency recruiters). They don’t keep a steady pipeline of possible jobs in all functional areas or for all possible employers just so they can say, “Hey, Joe needs a new job as a Director of Marketing, and here’s one that’s right up his alley!”

Watch Out for Possibly Unscrupulous Recruiters

Yes, there are some. Regardless of that, you need to keep at least one thing in mind if you’re considering working with a recruiter. If a recruiter contacts you about an opening and you agree to have him/her contact the employer to present you, what happens if you then receive a call from that employer who says they found your resume online? In a recent column by Ask the Headhunter’s Nick Corcodillos, someone wrote in with that exact problem. Was that recruiter unscrupulous? Not necessarily. However, as Corcodillos points out, something like that puts you in a no-win situation.

Following are a few points made in Corcodillos’ response to the inquirer (summarized to save space). See #4 on the list.

  1. Recruiters and companies can both find your resume online. It’s next to impossible to tell who found you first or where.
  2. Companies don’t want to risk a “fee fight” or a lawsuit if they hire you without paying a recruiter who claims to represent you.
  3. Recruiters can submit your resume to possible employers even without your knowledge and specific permission.
  4. The best way to avoid these problems is to stop posting your resume online…anywhere.

As I’ve said before, I read Ask the Headhunter frequently and always find it interesting. He knows a lot about the subject of employment, particularly recruiting and recruiters. That doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) will agree with everything he says. However, what he says in this case is worth considering.


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