On the job hunt? Here’s how a relationship with an external recruiter can help.
The most common ways to start a job search are through referrals (i.e., asking people you know if their employers are hiring) and by searching through job postings. These methods are helpful, but not comprehensive. There is an additional option that can boost your prospects – using a third-party search professional (also known as a recruiter, headhunter or staffing professional). To maximize your options for finding your next professional role, using a recruiter or staffing firm is a must. Here are some tips for working with third-party search professionals.
Understand how recruiters get paid. The revenue model for most staffing or recruiting firms is that the corporate client pays the recruiter a fee to help identify and hire additional staff. Some companies use external recruiters until they build their own internal recruiting team. Others use a third party for difficult-to-fill roles, specialty positions, during a peak hiring period or for a confidential search. In general, the recruiting fees are typically treated as a necessary business expense and should have no bearing on the salary for the actual job. In other words, most recruiters are not taking a cut of their placed candidate’s salary in exchange for their work.
A job opening managed by an external recruiter should pay the same as a role directly sourced from the company. As a matter of fact, most recruiters are happy to see their candidates get offers at the maximum amount because it can translate into higher commissions. The potential downside of this equation is seen in how recruiters spend their time. Since businesses pay the fee, not individual job seekers, successful recruiting professionals spend very little (or no) time with job seekers who are not ideal for the clients the recruiters represent.
Some search professionals specialize in certain areas, others may fill a variety of roles, but all have client requirements they must meet to make a placement. If your background does not line up with their client’s needs, they are not likely to be a good resource for you.
Know your niche. It is essential to find firms or recruiters who actively place people in your profession or industry. One way to locate the right headhunters is to ask for referrals from peers in your industry who have changed roles in the past year. You can look for which staffing firms are posting jobs that are ideal for you. Online searches on LinkedIn, Google, Yelp and Glassdoor can also give you options. The key is to find professionals who work with companies that would be interested in your background. Remember the recruiter is hired to find an ideal candidate from the company’s perspective. If you have no relevant or easily recognized transferable skills for a targeted profession, a third-party recruiter may be helpful to bridge the gap.
Build a relationship. Once you have identified a search firm or individual who seems in the right niche for you, be an active participant in the process. Successful headhunters have powerful networks and know a tremendous amount about their clients and the hiring process. After all, this is what they do all day long. It is ideal to build a relationship before you need to make an immediate move. Skilled search professionals often can work through their contact list (confidentially) to generate interest in your background if they think you are going to represent them well. In a high employment economy (like we have now for many professions), they may be able to line up an interview or two for you before the companies even post the role. No one recruiter or staffing firm will have every job lead that is out there. There is no harm in having relationships with a couple of trusted search professionals – but be careful if you are managing a confidential search. Working with multiple sources, especially if they are less experienced, may get back to your current manager.
A partnership with a trusted search professional can give your job hunt an extra boost. Ongoing, clear communication regarding your goals and activity is the best way to maximize your relationship. Skilled recruiters are discerning, and if you have an excellent background, they can open doors and expand career prospects that may not be accessible otherwise.