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Job Seeker Advice
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Recruiters and Headhunters

After trying for a while to find a job on your own, you might be considering working with a recruiter or a headhunter. These are people who make a living from finding employees for employers. Before you do that, here’s some things to consider.

1) Most recruiters specialize in specific industries. If it is not obvious on their website or other materials, ask them what fields in which they most often place their clients. Some have contracts with and will only work with specific companies. Some will work
in a variety of industries.

2) If you find a recruiter you think might be a good fit for you, require them to talk to you in person before you enter into a contractual relationship with them. They need to learn about you – your wants, needs and requirements for your next job, and they can’t get that from just looking at your resume. You need to learn about them to find out how they work. Ask about their track record in placing people in your field – how many people have they placed, what is the average number of years of experience of the people they have placed, what is the average length of time it took to place someone, do they place locally or do they place nationally, as well?

3) Base your fee upon their performance. Don’t pay a fee up front to have them work for you. However, it is perfectly fine to agree to a fee based on the number of interviews you get from them or a percentage of the salary of the job you accept.

4) If you decide working with a headhunter is something you want to do, make it just one part of your job search strategy. It is important to keep up your job hunting on your own with other things such as attending job clubs and posting your resume on social networking sites. Good old-fashioned research into companies who have the type of work in which you are interested will go a long way, too.

5) Work with the recruiter to set up a communication schedule, either through email or by phone calls, to keep in contact on a regular basis. Ideally, this should be no longer than at two week intervals. This will help you to get a feel for how much effort they are putting into finding your next job, and allow you to give them an update on where you are in your efforts.

6) Some recruiters will collect resumes "in case something comes up." Clarify up front if they will be actively seeking job opportunities for you or if they will be keeping your resume on file for a period of time "in case something comes up." A recruiter who markets your resume is vested in finding a job for you because they don’t get paid unless you get placed. A person who collects resumes is not likely to be all that motivated to find something for you.

7) Set a time limit. If you haven’t gotten at least an interview in three to four months, it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship with them. If a year has passed and you still haven’t been placed, chances are good you won’t be placed anywhere through them.

Got a success story about working with a recruiter or a head hunter? Let me know. Got a not so good story, let me know about that, too.

Becky Cole is a consultant for non-profit organizations specializing in capacity building for both individuals and corporations throughout the Twin Cities.  She has an Education Specialist Degree from Indiana University. Becky Cole can be reached at: bcole@employmentnewsmn.com