After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, July 11, 2011

So Bob, can you get me a job?

    Many people do not know exactly what a headhunter does.  There are times when I am one of them, especially after a long day of phone conversations when I no longer know which end of the phone receiver is up. A brief explanation is, "headhunter" is a commonly used term to describe an executive search professional.  See how much easier it is to say "headhunter?"
A headhunter is paid by an employer to recruit candidates for a specific position that the employer needs filled.      
    There are several categories of headhunters:
    My firm, Ward & Associates, is a retained executive search firm.  This means that we are paid in advance to act as a company's sole recruiter for a given position.  A retained firm generally establishes all contacts relating to a position and consequently is the only point of entry into that position.  A retained firm is often selected to fill middle to upper level management positions.
    A different type of search firm is a contingency-based firm.  A contingency-based firm receives no upfront fee, so has no exclusive rights to an assignment or responsibility to fill an assignment.  An employer may engage one or more contingency-based firms to fill positions where a broad reach of candidates is considered desirable or multiple identical openings are available.
    Temporary placement firms can help a candidate find temporary work while seeking a full-time opportunity.

A common misperception is that a headhunter hunts for a job for a candidate who needs one. 
    This misperception can result in unrealistic expectations (and the subsequent disappointment) of friends and family members who are in the job market.  While I am always happy to provide help, I work on only a limited number of assignments at a given time.  So my assistance may be in the form of one or more phone calls to contacts within my network.
    There are several important things everyone should know about headhunters:

  1. Candidates should NEVER pay someone to find them a job. A headhunter is ALWAYS paid by the employer.
  2. Many search firms specialize in an industry such as finance, medicine, or information technology.  Before hiring or contacting a search firm, do your research and make sure the firm is knowledgeable in your field.
  3. Reputation is important.  Employers and job-seekers utilizing a search firm must be sure that the firm will maintain their privacy.  It is advisable to know that a firm is reputable before entrusting that firm with confidential or personal information.
  4. Headhunters are not miracle workers.  Job searches and assignments take time, depending on the economy, the marketplace, and other factors. 
  5. Always be nice to headhunters. In very few instances over the course of my career, my overture has been received with a less-than-polite response. (CLICK!!!) It never hurts to leave a positive impression with a headhunter. You may need him someday.

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