Headhunters often have access to jobs that are not advertised elsewhere and can speed up the hiring process between an employer and potential candidate.
“As a career management coach, it is always surprising to me that even senior level job seekers often don’t know that ‘headhunters’ work for the companies, not the candidates,” says Bettina Seidman of SEIDBET Associates.
“Clients sometimes say: ‘I’ll just contact a headhunter who will get me a job.’ Headhunters aren’t career counselors…they’re motivated by earning the commission.”
To find out how to increase your chances of landing a job through a headhunter, we spoke with several executive recruiters and career coaches to get the low-down on the errors job seekers make.
Holding back information can make you look sneaky.
“Job seekers sometimes fail to tell their recruiter when their company, position, or compensation preferences change. Second, job seekers hurt themselves by not telling recruiters about personal obligations and other things that might interfere with their job searches,” says Katy Keogh, of the staffing firm Winter, Wyman.
“Bring these things up at the last minute, and they can be a deal-breaker. Why? Changing the game at the last second with a hiring company makes you look sneaky or complicated for no reason at all.”
Providing a vague description of your accomplishments makes it harder for a headhunter to place you.
“Leave out the jargon,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart. “Show specific and measurable results.”
“Don’t make me as the listener/recruiter/prospective employer have to translate what you’re saying into how it will benefit me or fill my needs. Talk to me in terms of my needs and what you will do for me.”
Don’t assume that a headhunter will do all the work for you.
Jennifer Lenkowsky, a managing partner of The Corporate Ladder, sees it all the time. “The biggest misconception a job seeker makes is that they assume because a headhunter agrees to meet them, that headhunter will find them a job,” she says.
“And then, they (job seekers) tend to put all of their eggs in a headhunter’s basket. Unfortunately if the companies that we work with don’t pick up on your resume, it’s out of our hands.”
“A headhunter’s job is to find the right candidate for the client (company) who hired the recruitment services – not to find a job to every single job seeker who contacts the recruiting firm,” adds Laurent Guerrier, CEO of the staffing firm, Luxe Avenue.
“Whether you’re using a headhunter or applying directly through a company’s website, gear your resume towards the position,” says Lenkowsky.
“There is nothing wrong with having different versions of your resume as long as everything you list is truthful. If you are applying for a position that requires event planning experience, then be sure to include all information that’s relatable.”
“A job summary should consist of 4-5 sentences on what you can bring to the table,” adds Terri Lee Ryan, a career coach.
“Don’t apply for jobs that you want or think you can get (when you know you can’t) … rather apply for jobs that you are qualified for,” says Lenkowsky.
“For example, I was recently recruiting for a position as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. The salary was listed at $150-200K and asked for candidates will similar experience to apply. Many of the responses were from people who just graduated, had never been an assistant, or were overqualified but unemployed. This is just wasting the job seekers time as well as the headhunter/hiring manager’s time,” she says.
“Recruiters don’t work for you, we work for the employer. When we submit a candidate we are putting our reputations on the line. We are risk adverse, so make our lives as easy as possible so that we don’t consider you to be a risk in any way, shape or form,” says Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.
Remember to monitor your online presence on networking sites such as Facebook and by simply Googling your name. Another way to keep track of what shows up about you online is to create a Google Alert for your first and last name.