The Recruitment Underground Blog

Career Skills, Training and Transitions

So Are You Kind of Like…A Headhunter?

Posted by jamesseetoo on June 16, 2009

Okay, so the answer to that one is yes…and no.  Let’s take a look at what a Recruiter actually does for a company whether inside a corporation or outside.

I think the term “Headhunter” is a little pejorative in that in any profession there are levels of professionalism and I like to think I’m at least a Billy Mays rather than a Vince for Shamwow.  Admittedly not necessarily the best comparison but Billy has his own show and and Vince has fights with hookers in his hotel room so you get the point.

For me, a headhunter is someone who is just shoveling resumes at a position hoping something will stick.  This person doesn’t take the time to get to know you, understand what you’re looking for and is trying to shoehorn you into something that might not be good for you and your family. Not pleasant and not someone who will probably be able to help you even if need a job.  In short, when this person presents someone for a job, the lack of credibility he/she has will often reflect on the candidate.

A long time ago way before I got into the recruiting game I worked for Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises and later The Howard Morhaim Literary Agency and one of the things I learned along the way was that in publishing literary agencies act as a screen for editors who would otherwise be swamped by unsolicited manuscripts.

By representing a writer, the agent lends credibility to the writer. In a lot of ways, the situations is very similar to an HR person or a Hiring Manager getting hundreds of resumes most of which won’t be qualified and the ones that are qualified are generally lost in the shuffle.

The Recruiter are there to SCREEN IN the applicable resumes and generally if that Recruiter has a good relationship with the Hiring Manager, those resumes passed forward will be seen.  I don’t like to use the term “Screen Out” because a really good recruiter remembers people for other jobs to develop pipeline for the future. Naturally it takes a while for that relationship to develop but once it does, managers rely on their recruiters for great candidates.

So what does that mean for you, especially if you have a job and Recruiters are calling you and bothering you while you’re trying to keep your job by actually doing it?

Well, for one thing, a Recruiter is essentially like the doorman at a hot Las Vegas club – someone with the power to say NO.  So naturally if you have no interest in getting in to that club you can ignore the doorman but then there comes a time when you want to get in and it seems impossible.  But if you go early and develop a relationship with that doorman you have a much better chance of getting in when you want to impress your friends.

Naturally if you have really good looking friends that helps you get in the door – which is a lot like having a connection inside a company.

Can you say “Employee Referral Program”?

So even if you’re not looking, it’s great to develop a network of Recruiters and you can do that by listening to what they have to say and if they get to know you they might eventually be able to help you.  I recruited one person for three years (he always turned me down) before being able to bring him to my former company as a Vice President and he’s thriving in that position.

And if you are looking, be willing to help Recruiters out by networking with them on other positions.  Believe me, a good Recruiter will appreciate it and be more than willing to help you out in any way he/she can.  It’s all about having a great relationship.

So yes, there are Headhunters and Recruiters and of course people operate at different levels and you’re not going to want to be associated with everyone but if you’re able to build rapport with Recruiters, you will increase your chances of finding a new job when you need one exponentially or you might even stumble across something better than what you have.

Now I have to say that the Shamwow seems to be a pretty good product but would you buy a used car from Vince?

Remember, your skills are your job security.


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