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5 Tips for Working With Headhunters and Recruiters to Get Hired

Topics: Career Advice
working with headhunters

It’s a job seeker’s market right now. Unemployment is under 4 percent, and employers are so desperate for qualified workers, 66 percent are willing to train likely candidates. But that doesn’t mean that finding quality jobs is easy.

Working with headhunters and recruiters can help — if you know what you’re doing. But, the process can be confusing. How do you know if you’re working with the right people? What can you do to get connected with the best positions?

There are a few things you should know that could help you land a job:

1. There’s a difference Between recruiters and headhunters

While people often use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference. Recruiters work for specific companies, or occasionally agencies, to fill open roles. Headhunters, on the other hand, often work on contingency, getting paid when they place candidates.

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At The Muse, former recruiter Richard Moy explains:

Often, [headhunters] work on behalf of outside agencies that have been outsourced to companies looking to fill particular roles. The open positions sent to a headhunting company tend to be urgent, and organizations that rely on headhunters are sometimes at their wits end, leading them to say, “We need some extra help to get someone into this job!” And typically, the agency doesn’t get paid until the gig’s been filled.

This leads to considerable urgency to fill the role, he says — and that urgency can “trickle down” to you. There are also a number of things headhunters won’t tell you that might affect your chances of getting hired, so it’s important to do your own research about the roles they present to you.

2. Need Help With Career Direction? Consider a career coach

“A recruiter will help you avoid the wrong job, but a career coach will help you find the right job,” Bill Gardner of Noetic Outcomes Consulting, LLC., told Forbes. “A recruiter has a vested interest in putting butts in seats, while a career coach has an interest in understanding you enough to help you find a job that fits like a glove. Once you gain clarity, you could approach a recruiter with the exact specs you desire and they might be able to help.”

3. Be Prepared to Say No … a Lot

Headhunters can be aggressive. So if when you’re working with headhunters, you should be prepared to say no, possibly more than once.

At Forbes, Vicki Salemi explains:

…several years ago, I briefly worked with a headhunter. After researching the company and position he sent me further, I decided to withdraw my candidacy prior to interviewing. The headhunter was adamant about me interviewing and did not want to take no for an answer. I didn’t want to exert the time or energy – or that of the company – toward interviewing for a position I wasn’t interested in. I insisted I wasn’t going to interview and the recruiter finally let up, but it took more “no’s” than I thought were necessary.

4. Ask for a referral

Headhunters don’t always come to you. If you’re looking for extra help in your job search, you want to find one who works with people in your niche of the job market.

One way to zero in on these folks is to look to your professional network. A lot of people have used headhunters at some point in their career. Reach out to contacts in your industry to ask for a reference for someone who works with candidates in your field. This can help you connect with the right individuals.

5. Don’t double-submit

Working with more than one recruiter or headhunter to help you find employment is fairly common, but it can lead to problems — for instance, being submitted multiple times for the same job.

You could very well end up disqualified as a result. This happens for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it confuses the process for everyone involved — employers, recruiters/headhunters, and you.

In order to avoid this, be sure to stay on top of all aspects of the application process. Know which organizations you’re applying to and be organized about keeping track throughout the process. It would be heartbreaking to be disqualified for a job that could be a great fit just because you were double-submitted.

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