In today’s challenging job market many job seekers wonder about the effectiveness of working with third party recruiters, or headhunters. If you have a focused job search and are working with a headhunter who concentrates in your field they can often offer the advantage you need.

Utilizing a headhunter can be extremely effective for candidates in many industries.

Job hunters who take the time to understand the role of third party recruiters, and develop a strategy to best handle the relationship will get the most from working with these professionals. For example: make sure your resume is up to date, complete, and free of errors before providing it to a headhunter.

What are recruiters and how do they work?

“What most people don’t realize is that there are two different types of recruiters/headhunters out there. Recruiters work on either a retained or a contingency basis” explains The Undercover Recruiter blog. Undercover Recruiter defines contingency search, which is how the vast majority of recruiters work, as “…a service performed by a recruitment company for free until the day a candidate represented by them takes a position with their client. Recruiters working on this basis often have to compete with the client’s internal HR department… direct applicants and typically one or more other recruitment companies.”

Don’t forget that a recruiter does not work for you. Headhunters work for their clients who have a job position open; their primary responsibility is to their customer. They earn a fee—usually in the range 15% to 30% of a candidate’s annual base salary—only after the candidate has worked for their client for 90 days.

There are many advantages to using recruiters.

Some firms use headhunters exclusively and do not to use their human resources department to recruit, nor do they advertise their job postings online. If you rule out working with headhunters you will never find out about the opportunities these companies offer.

Recruiters often have inside information on the inner workings of companies, the thought processes of hiring managers, the must-haves versus the nice-to-haves on a job description, and other vital information that a job seeker could never discover on their own.

One of the reasons headhunters are so successful is that when they present a candidate to a client, they develop strategies that are designed to emphasize a candidate’s most attractive traits while carefully answering preemptively as many potential negatives as possible.

Respect the headhunter’s relationships.

Don’t ever contact a recruiter’s client directly at any time. It will be seen as unprofessional and will complicate the process.

Some final tips:

— Always be totally honest with headhunters and don’t exaggerate your work history, background, qualifications, etc.

— Always be respectful of the recruiter’s time; like other extremely busy professionals they must prioritize what they work on as well as when and how much time they spend communicating with people.

— Always tell a headhunter about any interviews, pending interviews, or job offers you have had in the last six months.

— Always let a recruiter know when you are not interested in a firm or an opportunity; more than just wasting a headhunter’s time, you can damage their relationship with their client.

Refer talented colleagues and friends to the recruiters you work with and show them that you appreciate them and the professional work they do.

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