Hiring a headhunter to hunt for me?
August 15, 2007 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Headhunter filter: I know that companies can hire headhunters to fill available positions. I'd like to do the opposite: Can I hire someone to find a job for me?
posted by anastasiav to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, this is something headhunters might do - I spent some time corresponding with one some years ago, when I was trying to find a job (and to his credit, he did try to find me a job).

Bear in mind, though, that if your skill set is outside of the normal corporate skills (management, administrative, accounting, IT, etc.), the headhunter will have a difficult time finding something for you, and will have little incentive to dig very deep for you. These people specialize in 'matchmaking', in the sense that they have an employer seeking to fill a position, and a candidate they think will be a good fit for the position.

I had a better time through a temp agency, actually. You might wind up with a bunch of short-term, boring-as-sin jobs initially, but you build up a network of potential contacts mighty fast. And if they like you, they keep you in mind.

Good luck!
posted by LN at 8:50 AM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes. Depending on the industry, you can probably find a placement agency that will match you with appropriate full time jobs. I've worked with several people who got their job that way. I believe the employer pays the agency a referral fee and maybe a cut of the new hire's salary.

Also, if you're not interested in full time work, then you might try a temp agency.
posted by Jeff Howard at 8:53 AM on August 15, 2007

You can do the opposite, but what I've found that works is simply to contact all the headhunters in your field in places where you'd consider moving, talk to them on the phone and dazzle them with your skills. Let them know you'll talk to any parties within your particular parameters. The job offers will eventually then come to you, and it's all paid for by the hiring company. Companies pay headhunters to find people; it's great for the reputation of the headhunter if they have 'ready' people for the company (at least for interviews) at a moment's notice. I've got about 10 headhunters working for me; I've had two jobs from these contacts and about twenty interviews and offers. I'm picky, but I'm willing to make a move for the right money and terms. I've never had to pay a cent.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:42 AM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

It depends on the country in which you're seeking a job. In Canada, no one can charge you a fee to find a job. This may be the case in other countries, although I don't think it's the case in the USA.
posted by acoutu at 9:45 AM on August 15, 2007

I have found that the headhunters call me every time I update my resume on Monster.com whether I am actively looking or not.

If I am actively looking, I respond to them when they call/e-mail and let them know that I am looking, even if I'm not interested in the position they have at the moment. Many, if not all, of them will then take you on and try to fit you to open reqs they have...no fee.

I update my Monster.com resume once every few months, and the resulting contacts from headhunters never seem to stop.
posted by briank at 9:55 AM on August 15, 2007

Headhunters (they hate that term) typically get paid by the hiring company. As a guide, they will tack on a fee of about 20% of the first year's salary with some proviso that the new hire has to be there for X days in order for them to get paid.

Depending on the sorts of skills you have and the positions you're aiming for, this could work out for and I'd be shocked (and would run away) if you are asked to pay anything. You're "inventory" for the headhunter. I don't see a downside to exploring it, but best to get some referrals since the barriers to entry for would be headhunters is low and not regulated.

I've been on the "buying end" using headhunters to fill technical and executive positions. Sometimes it works well, other times it's meh. YMMV. I've also been on the "selling end" and frankly, that was less satisfying because the recruiters I worked with just had a very narrow POV--I ended up with my current job, which was exactly what I wanted to do, after being told by two recruiters that that type of position would be "unattainable." So my final advice is take any career guidance you receive from headhunters with a giant spoonful of salt.
posted by donovan at 10:21 AM on August 15, 2007

Yes. There are all sorts of job placement agencies. Head Hunters to this also.
posted by chunking express at 10:23 AM on August 15, 2007

I agree with briank. Jut putting my resume on Monster.com a year ago has resulted in lots of calls. I inform the ones that are from someone I am insterested in using as a headhunter at some point that I am not looking for a job right now due to circumstances, but I will keep their information and update them as things change... and also tell them to keep me up-to-date as they identify appropriate opportunities.

I used a head-hunter in this way about 12 years ago. I didn't pay, the searching company paid the fee. But that headhunter set up interviews with several target companies and helped counsel me on my resume and job-hunting skills.

A good recruiter is like a good real estate agent. They know the buyer is paying the bills, but they can also focus on the seller (or job hunter) as a client. They can only get the money from the buyer when you sell your goods or services, so even if someone else is paying the bill in the end, they need you too.
posted by Doohickie at 10:42 AM on August 15, 2007

Yes, a roommate did this when he was graduating from his master's in computer science. He went on tons of interviews, all through the headhunter.

One thing, though, is that he felt that the headhunter was pressuring him to take offered jobs to an inappropriate extent. Obviously the headhunter just wanted him to get hired and move on, but when my friend felt like the place wasn't a good fit, the headhunter got a bit obnoxious. So, make sure you're prepared to say no twice - once to the company, once to the headhunter. If you hate saying no, it's double the trouble.
posted by crinklebat at 2:24 PM on August 15, 2007

The vast majority of headhunters are happy to get unsolicited resumes, and will gladly take on candidates that way if it makes sense. A few who concentrate on very high level placements have no need of unsolicited resumes because everyone who is qualified for their vacancies is already on their database.

Just be aware that good headhunters are very oriented towards the specific vacancies the firm is working to fill, and can't do much for people who aren't a fit for the current opportunities other than put them on file and call them when a fit comes in. This is true of all retained search firms (those whom an employer pays up front) and of most good contingency search firms (those whom an employer pays if and only if it hires a candidate the firm introduced). A cold shoulder from such a headhunter might simply be honesty, rather than rudeness or lack of interest.

Be very wary about services who ask the candidate to pay. No really successful headhunter works this way. While there are some honest, if mediocre, headhunters working on this basis, many of those who seek to get paid by the candidate are actively, or effectively, scam artists. (The actual con artists just take your money for nothing, while the "effective" scam artists actually will mass-mail your resume to a valid list of employers or engage an offshore calling center to cold-call HR offices for you, but do so knowing very well that your chance of securing a job is very low.)
posted by MattD at 3:19 PM on August 15, 2007

My experience (even when looking for full time work) has been good with Temp agencies. Many companies are now using temp agencies to find out if they want to bring someone on before the fill out all the paper work. Gives them a trial period to decide whether to keep you .r not. I got my last full time job just that way as well as my current job now.
posted by unsurmountable at 4:31 PM on August 15, 2007

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