Using recruiters and headhunters in your job search is a major time-saver and a smart strategy to employ in a competitive hiring environment. Savvy job seekers like you incorporate recruiters and headhunters into your approach because you know how important diversifying your job search is.

Using Recruiters and Headhunters

As a job seeker, it is important to understand the different types of recruiters and headhunters. With so many recruiters and headhunters out there, you might not know how they work. You also need to know their motivations and follow certain recruiter tips for job seekers.

Corporate/Internal Recruiters

Internal recruiters and headhunters work as gatekeepers to identify qualified candidates for their employer. Internal recruiters and headhunters often receive a large volume of resumes from job board postings, so they often use phone screens to eliminate candidates.

An internal recruiter’s success depends on many factors including ensuring requirements are well-defined for their job openings. Unfortunately, many internal recruiters and headhunters communicate poorly with hiring managers, leading to confusion for the job seeker.

Contingency and Retained Recruiters

Contingency and retained firms are vendors of hiring companies and incentives are used for driving the placement of as many qualified candidates as possible. Contingency and retained recruiters work for third party organizations (aka Employment Agencies) that source top qualified candidates.

Contingency firms are only paid after they place a successful candidate, and they charge a fee based on a percentage of your starting salary. Retained firms, by contrast, receive at least some of their fee upfront and often focus on higher level positions such as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

Recruiter Tips for Job Seekers

If you’re using recruiters to find a job, be wary of pitfalls.

  • A common complaint among recruiters, both agency and internal, is that candidates follow-up too frequently or aggressively. So, it’s best to ask upfront how often you should call him or her to check on the status of a position or to check in to see if there are new openings.
  • View your approach from a long-term perspective (3-6 month time-frame). This means you recognize the recruiter may not have something for you right away. Continue planting seeds of trust; he or she is more likely to think of you when evaluating future job openings.
  • If a recruiter describes a great position that is not a fit for you, offer a referral. Most recruiters appreciate a solid referral and will look for ways to reciprocate.
  • Another helpful tip for using recruiters and headhunters is to keep your resume updated. That way, you’re ready if a great opportunity suddenly becomes available. We can help, there! Submit your Resume for a free review.

Searching for Recruiters and Headhunters

Membership organizations such as the Illinois Search & Staffing Association have a database of recruiting companies that you can search by specialty (i.e. accounting, legal, etc.) and industry. Conduct research in your area or geographic location to find a couple good matches.

Also, here’s a list of Employment Agencies (by industry) as well as a list of Local Employment Agencies (by metropolitan area) to jump-start your search.

View the full list of Job Seeker Resources >>