Many candidates employ the services of a recruiter, or headhunter, to assist them in finding new opportunities while job hunting. Using a recruiter can give you an edge, but as with many things in life, the outcome will be more advantageous with some research and planning. There are many types of recruiters, from freelance and contingency (paid upon candidate placement) to retained and in-house. One thing they all have in common, though? They work for their client.
Know recruiters do call. The sheer volume of available candidates impacts a recruiter’s ability to contact every person. Since most recruiters get paid upon placement, if your resume is a 90% match to one of their current openings, they will reach out to you. Trust me! The key is that your resume must rise above hundreds, if not thousands, of others. I only choose resumes that are professional in style and content and provide the info I need in about 10 seconds—and if I’m using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), your resume must get past that keyword hurdle first. There is a lot riding on your resume when you work with a recruiter, so it’s important to get this right.
Keep your talent on lockdown. If your resume is posted far and wide on the Internet – meaning that I can track it down in a few minutes – my clients will not accept it. In fact, my contract has a clause that states I am not allowed to present resumes that are easily accessible on the Internet. Why would a company pay me for something that they can do themselves? When you decide to use a headhunter, remove your resume from the Internet. It may sound counterintuitive, but it will help you in the long run. Companies pay for exclusivity!
Select the best (for you). Limit the number of recruiters that you work with—if your resume is submitted to the same company by multiple recruiters, you may be disqualified. You should employ a strategy of using three recruiters (one local, one national, and one international) and reach out to them once a month via email. The key to using recruiters effectively is to start when you are employed and build ongoing relationships over the course of your career. Research recruiters and search firms that specialize in your industry, and reach out to them via social media. I have relationships with candidates that I have known for many, many years, and when they are back on the job market, they call me.
Get a referral. The single best way to reach a recruiter is to be referred by one of their candidates. If you know someone who was just placed in a new job via a headhunter, be sure to ask them for a recommendation to that recruiter.
Working with a recruiter can prove a major asset to your career. You must come in prepared, though—make sure your online career brand is consistent and professional, have current references, and be honest with the recruiter regarding other opportunities you may have. Make your recruiter’s job as easy as possible, and they can help you nail down one of your own.