How to deal with headhunter
July 19, 2005 1:41 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with headhunters?

I work in fairly specialized industry where most of us know or know about eachother all over the world. (we are talking about a dozen companies total in the world)

Anyways... I have been working at one of the company for 9 years or so... Recently I have been getting calls from a headhunter who specialized in this industry. She has called me about once a month for last few month telling me about the opportunities at other companies, asking me to send her resume and samples. I haven't sent her anything yet, but appreciative of her letting me know about the opennings. The problem is I sometimes find out those opennings through word of mouth or ads. I understand the headhunter receives commission from the company who hires me. What is ethical way to handle this. because i also know many companies don't want to give out commissions and deal directly with me.

Should I just contact the companies directly? Would I get blackballed by this headhunter in the future? Can the headhunter sue me? (since she called earlier... even though there are ads on the net)

second question is ... can i use second headhunter at the same time? (there really are only these two headhunters for this industry) How shoud i handle this with out creating bad blood with me.??
posted by curiousleo to Human Relations (5 answers total)
You're under no obligation to the headhunter for positions you learn about on your own. If she's a reasonable person, she understands the small pond you're all swimming in and is not going to exact retribution for perceived slights.

If you legitimately find out about a position through her, you should work with her. The fee isn't coming out of your pocket, so give her a lot of latitude in your definition of "through her."

On the other hand, working with two headhunters for the same position is very bad form. Working with two headhunters for two different positions, or even just working with them on spec (no specific position, they keep their eyes open for you), is fine.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:59 AM on July 19, 2005

Headhunters can be a great help in your career. However, sometimes their ethics leave much to be desired. They are, at their core, still sales people. A notch above a car sales person, but sales nonetheless. If you think you can trust this one then it might pay to see what opportunities are available. Let the headhunter know that if you provide a resume that it is to be used for that sole opportunity and not to be shared with other companies without your specific permission. These people have a lot of knowledge about the industries they serve so even if you don't go looking for another job they can provide you with good information about competitive salaries, benefits and working conditions.
posted by caddis at 5:28 AM on July 19, 2005

There's nothing wrong with going with a second headhunter. The only time I'd make an exception to that rule is if the headhunter is exceptional. I've had exactly one that made so much of an impression on me that I'd turn away other headhunters. Sadly she's no longer in that line of work.

In general head hunters are just trying to earn a commission and will try and send you on as many interviews as possible (spending your time, if not money) rather than really listening to what your goals and aspirations are.
posted by substrate at 5:34 AM on July 19, 2005

Whatever you do, don't take a lead from one headhunter and then contact the company yourself. That headhunter will know when you are placed and will seek his commission from the company. This will make you look pretty bad to your new employer. Similarly, never switch headhunters on a single job. They will fight over the commission with your new employer, also making you look bad. If the first headhunter is really that bad, let him or her make the introduction to the company and then handle things on your own from that point on. Also, if there are only two headhunters I wouldn't burn your bridges. You may need that other headhunter later. Whoever places you will likely be quite reluctant to pull you out and place you somewhere else. That can be the kiss of death for a headhunter's relationship with an employer.
posted by caddis at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2005

If you think you're interested in working with this headhunter in the future I'd suggest being up front with her when she brings up an opportunity you are already aware of. The question then is what's the benifit to you of working with her anyway? Which is a question you should feel free to ask her. Someone who is a professional won't have an issue with "what's in it for me?" as a question. If she can't/won't explain the payoff for you then you probably don't want to work with her anyway.
posted by phearlez at 11:03 AM on July 19, 2005

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