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Understand how headhunters work

Surveys consistently show that personal contact is the No. 1 way that people are landing jobs. A recent Right Management report said 41 percent of 59,133 newly hired workers got their jobs through people they knew or met while searching.

That far exceeded other sources — 25 percent through Internet job boards, 11 percent through search firms or employment agencies, 8 percent through directly approaching employers, 4 percent through social media sites such as LinkedIn, 2 percent responding to an ad and 10 percent through an undefined "other" way.

I get a lot of questions about headhunters, so I'm focusing today on the search firm or agency category.

Headhunters — executive search professionals — are misunderstood by many job hunters who think they can simply call up a headhunter who will advocate for them.

But headhunters work for employers, not job seekers.

Headhunters are not employment agencies. Employment agencies may spread a job hunter's resume around to different employers.

But headhunters work on retainer or contingency fee arrangements with employers. They're hired to provide well-qualified candidates to fill specific job openings.

Professionals or executives can market themselves to headhunters, but headhunters won't market them in turn — until they are asked to help fill a position for which they are top-drawer candidates.

The surprise for many job hunters is that "the time to work with a headhunter is before you need one."

And, sadly for some, headhunters aren't in business to find work for unemployed job hunters.

In fact, their placements often come from currently employed people, though strong, unemployed candidates certainly may be presented.

Job hunters also should know that "recruiters" who call them after finding their resumes online may not be headhunters and may not have specific jobs to fill.

Professionals and executives should learn who the reputable headhunters are in their fields and make themselves known to them for possible future referrals.

Understand how headhunters work 08/29/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2011 9:34pm]
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