Working With External Recruiters

Working With External Recruiters

A reader recently asked us to address the topic of whether job seekers should proactively reach out to headhunters. The answer is yes! Headhunters, as some recruiters are called, can be a source of job leads and connections in your job search and should not be ignored.

First it helps to understand the key players:

  • Internal Recruiter: Works for a specific company helping fill current job openings and grooming a pool of potential talent for future job openings. Internal recruiters are usually paid a salary by the company they work for.
  • External Recruiter: Helps fill openings at many companies. Often associated with a specialty (such as IT or medical) and an agency.  External recruiters are often paid based on the number of placements they make. Their constant goal is to match people with jobs and get hires made. It impacts their bottom line.
  • “Headhunter”: A nickname for an external recruiter who focuses on executive talent or highly skilled positions. In a stronger job market, some headhunters focused on “passive candidates” meaning people who were already employed but might be convinced to switch to a new job and company. These days headhunters and recruiters develop a pool of talent, some employed, some unemployed, and seek to match those in their pool with job openings and companies they work with.

Job seekers should proactively reach out to all of these key players. Any one of them may have an opening for which you are a match, or may hear of something that is right for you. All of them tend to have a lot of connections, especially in the industry or company they support.

As a former recruiter myself, here are some pointers for making the most of the relationship:

  • Show respect for the recruiter’s time.  Recruiters are juggling many open positions, hiring managers and job seekers. Keep all communication focused and concise.
  • Make it easy for recruiters to reach you by featuring email and phone number on all materials.  Some recruiters prefer to call. Be responsive to their calls and return messages quickly.
  • Look for ways to help recruiters.  If approached about a job that is not right for you, suggest someone for whom it might be a match.
  • Treat every encounter with a recruiter like a job interview.  When a recruiter recommends you for a position, his or her reputation is on the line so recruiters are constantly measuring you.
  • Don’t expect a recruiter to act as your career counselor or job search coach.  Some recruiters may offer helpful advice, but do not lead by asking for it.
  • Take all input from recruiters seriously, especially if they are trying to match you to a specific job.  They know the organization and hiring manager, so any advice the give is likely to be important.
  • Never vent with a recruiter about the frustrations of your job search.  Remain positive and professional at all times.
  • If a recruiter does not follow up with you, contact the recruiter.  Send a concise email or leave a professional voice mail message requesting an update.

Your relationship with recruiters or “headhunters” is like any other networking relationship. It should be a two-way, mutually beneficial connection. Treat recruiters respectfully, pay it forward where you can, be sure they know your value so they can connect you when they hear of a job that might be right.

Next week, more important things to know about recruiters including how to find them, and how they are paid.


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