By John Sattler
Executive Recruiters, also known as Headhunters or 3rd Party Recruiters, sometimes get a bad rap. I regularly hear rumblings about them not returning calls and not responding to resumes. But they should be given a break. The problem is not what recruiters are or are not doing; the problem is a surprisingly prevalent misunderstanding of what it is they do. Once you are clear on this, your frustration level should greatly diminish.
What headhunters do is is recruit people for their client companies. Period. That is what they get paid for. As an example, let’s say a company needs a CFO, and they choose to hire a recruiter to do the search. The recruiter then searches out (sources) qualified CFO’s and presents a select few to their client company. The client company then interviews these few, hires one, then pays the recruiter. This is the abridged version, but I’m sure you get the point.
And that point is extremely important: recruiters do not work for candidates, they work for their client companies. Hence, to think the average recruiter is going perform a job search for you is wishful thinking at best. Actually, it is delusional thinking. I am not saying it is never done, but you would need to be the Steve Jobs of your industry in order to compel a recruiter to do this. Still, the only reasons they would are a.) if they think the chances of placing you are extremely high or b.) to get the attention of a prospective client. Again, it is rarely done, and even less so today than in the past.
Take this to the bank: If you are what a recruiter needs, when they need you, where they need you, you will get a call if they happen to find you or know of you. Other than to ask for a referral, recruiters have no reason to speak with candidates who are less than 90% qualified for what they need. Why? Because companies pay recruiters to find people with specific qualifications and experience. Otherwise, why would they pay a recruiter?
So now you may be wondering, how do I make myself appear on a recruiter’s radar screen? Here are a few suggestions:
>>> Send your resume to a recruiter who specializes in your industry & skills with a short note. If it is a solid resume they will keep it in a priority file to call you when they have a relevant search. Don’t stalk them. Trust me, they will call you if they need you. It is in their best interest to do so.
>>> If you are responding to an ad a recruiter has placed, don’t send your resume unless you are at least 90% qualified for the job. You are just wasting their time if you do so.
>>> If you see an ad or hear through your network of a recruiter recruiting on a job for which you’re 90%+ qualified, send your resume. State the job title in the subject line and write a short note in the body of the email, including the best times to reach you. You don’t need a cover letter. If you don’t hear back within 2 days, try calling. If you leave a voice message make it short, state clearly why you are calling, that you are not wasting their time, and that you are very qualified for the stated job because…
The bottom line is you should consider executive recruiters / 3rd party recruiters / headhunters as only a tiny fraction of your job search strategy. Take heed of the above information and their behavior will make a lot more sense to you.
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