By Chuck Reutlinger, Associate Director

“All you need to do is find a good headhunter who will find you a job.”

I’ve regularly heard young alumni, new grads and some students cite this piece of advice that they have usually received from peers, friends and family members. While there certainly are employment services out there that play a role in job seekers’ successes, there is a lot of confusion and unwarranted expectations about just what these various services really do.

They won’t be your agent. They don’t work for you!
Basically, headhunters, staffing agencies, consultants – whatever they may call themselves – generally make money by finding, screening and referring potential employees for specific jobs that the employer needs help filling right away.  If they are successful, employers give them new assignments and they spend their time working on these and trying to get new assignments from new and old employer clients. Been there, done that!

They may seem encouraging, but…..
To meet an assignment quickly (which means a quicker fee), they need to have an inventory of candidates ready to present.  Hence they’ll encourage you to submit resumes, and they might even have a quick conversation with you to determine salary needs, geographic restrictions, etc. What they seldom do, however, is launch a wide ranging search on behalf of a specific job seeker. They can’t by law accept fees from you to undertake such efforts, and why would they? Once you get a job, you’ll be off the market!  By serving employers well, they build solid relationships and ensure return business.

They seldom handle entry-level job assignments.
In this cost conscious economy, why would an employer pay them healthy fees to find entry-level candidates when they have so many free or certainly less expensive sources, notably fairs and listing resources at campuses near and far (e.g. OrangeLink), social network posting sites like LinkedIn, and college-specific sites like these?

So when are they valuable? You might score if……

  • You are available to work immediately.
  • You have a skill and experience set that is in short supply, probably in technology, healthcare, some areas of business, some foreign languages, etc.
  • You are more than an entry-level student or new grad; the more experienced you are, the rarer you may be, and the more likely an employer is to pay an outside agency to find you.
  • You have identified those who serve specific industries or career fields (headhunters usually emerge from specific settings and use their knowledge to bring value back to employers in the same settings.)

Researching headhunters et al.

Use Indeed, Simply Hired and other “aggregators” to find position listings from these external agencies and then visit the web sites of these organizations to find more opportunities.

Check out the Online Recruiters Directory and RON, the Recruiters Online Directory to find who serves your field or industry.

Happy hunting!

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