I’ve had my fair share of job hunting escapades and know the frustration that goes along with the search. You know what your skills are, but if you are not effectively communicating those skills through a resume, you could find yourself out of luck and out of a potentially good job.
For a brief period in my life, I worked as a headhunter. Not in the aboriginal sense — mostly I found jobs for professional people. I specialized in placing candidates in manufacturing jobs and surprisingly, I was quite good at it, having made several placements in an unusually short period of time. I learned a lot during the little time I worked at this profession on an all-commission basis. One thing this experience taught me was that it could actually be quite useful and worthwhile to work with a professional to locate that right job for you.
If you’re a professional or if you’ve got management experience and find a need to change your job, it may be in your best interest to contact a professional placement agency to send them your past job information. Most agencies charge the clients (i.e. the hiring company) any fees that are associated in the placement. You, as a candidate, have the opportunity to discuss your qualifications and experience with an actual person, who can then assist you in creating a resume that is up to par with your actual abilities.
In the past, people would typically find jobs through classified ads, through word-of-mouth or via referrals. However, with time, we now find ourselves using the internet for our job searches. For certain industries, it’s pretty much inevitable that resumes are fielded by recruiters and headhunters. Nevertheless, we can still take a look at how headhunters may add value to our job hunt, thereby making us more keenly aware of ways to leverage their expertise to our benefit.
Tips on Using a Job Placement Agent (or Headhunter)
#1 Check if a headhunter can actually help you.
You may want to find out if a dedicated headhunter is someone who can help support your job search. With the proliferation of independent job sites that are available online, doing your own research through these sites may be enough to help you secure a job. In general, headhunters work to place professional, managerial and skilled positions and may be useful for those seeking upper level positions. There are those agents who represent a job placement agency that may or may not work on contingency, and there are those who work full time as a dedicated representative for a particular company. You may want to find out if your job search will benefit from a professional who works on your behalf.
#2 Leverage the job recruiter’s experience and network to get yourself the best placement.
In general, these recruiters (as they are quite commonly called) will help you communicate more effectively with your potential employers in areas such as salary, benefits, and relocation assistance. Because professional placement agents have dealt with many companies and candidates, they often know how to barter a better deal than you could on your own. They can be your mouthpiece who speaks on your behalf, and advisor who can also coach you on how to deal with employees and interviewers from hiring companies.
#3 Be aware of those recruiters who charge applicants a fee.
As mentioned, most job placement professionals who will only charge the hiring company a fee, but there are others who seek payment from job candidates. I’ve known job seekers who have paid thousands to get a good cover letter and resume together with help from a third party. Is it worth it? You’ll have to determine if you’re comfortable with doing things on your own vs using free services online that can help you polish your interview skills and resume, or help you find a job match. Know what you’re paying for! My rule of thumb is this: if you have skills that are in high demand (or live in an area with strong employment opportunities), then you may have less need for additional support in your job search.
#4 Save time and energy with your job search.
If you’ve signed up with an agency, then another convenience is that you no longer have to hit the pavement looking for a prime opportunity. The headhunter will present it to you. If you’re interested, they will submit your information to their client companies and if any company finds you a good match, the process will move forward. Surprisingly, some recruiters end up wasting your time and energy anyway, say if they become way too overzealous about wanting to place you somewhere, even if you’re not a good fit. They may be overly motivated by profit and may push for your placement regardless of the job requirements and your skill set. If so, then you’d obviously be wasting your time. Secondly, they may decide to “shop you around” just to see if they get a “hit”. Some companies may not even have openings but may be willing to meet with you, just to get your information on file for their future use.
#5 Make yourself stand out: get yourself past first base with your job hunt.
Many companies don’t even hire directly anymore but rather rely on the expertise of a good headhunter. They may have a good working relationship with an agency and the only way you’ll get through the door of the company is through the placement agency. While you may not have to do as much legwork looking for a job as you would on your own, you’ll still need to impress the placement agent — not just through a well put together resume, but also through a favorable screening interview. Consider headhunters as a “dry run” for getting yourself noticed for certain job placements. Headhunters receive a ton of resumes every day so it’s important that you stand out in some way. After all, they’ll need to notice you first before they can decide if they’d like to work with you going forward. Ah, the competition!
#6 Keep your expectations in check.
Just because you have a recruiter on your side doesn’t necessarily mean that they can move mountains for you. Some of these agents may tend to overpromise on both sides (to both the employer and candidate). They could try to entice you with an exaggerated picture of the company, or they could sell you as the perfect candidate for a job you may not have the right experience for. Watch out for those professionals who make something sound too good to be true. I personally value those who are honest enough to tell it like it is.
#7 Consider the quality of the placement agency you’re working with and keep in touch!
If you’re starting to get the itch for a new job, consider researching good placement agencies. Not all of them are highly reputable so make sure you check them out carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and stay on top of things as much as possible. Remember that your recruiter is a bridge to a potential employer, and you’ll want to start your job on the right foot. Be especially careful if you are using multiple agencies, since you don’t want your resume and information to be submitted to the same employer multiple times. Redundant submissions can lead to confusion and conflict over placement fees, which can discourage a company from wanting to hire you at all.
Finally, make sure you always keep your contact information updated because you never know when opportunity will come knocking!
Created March 13, 2008. Updated April 18, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.