6 Tips for Working with a Headhunter

two business people about to shake hand

Headhunters can be a great resource to shore up your job search. However, you need to approach this avenue a little differently than with the HR department of a firm. Here are some tips from our side of the table to help you navigate your search.

1. Find the right one: Do your research and make sure you’re sending your resume to a firm that makes placements in your target area. If you’re not sure, give them a call – most firms will be happy to answer general questions.

2. Treat them with respect and expect the same in return: Be cognizant of the time and energy your agent (because that’s really what they are) have put into find you a position. On the other side of the coin, be wary of firms that don’t respect your time or needs, or are unduly aggressive. If they don’t respect you, move on.

3. Be clear about what you want: Headhunters get paid to fill specific roles and for that, they need specific people. The sooner both parties are clear about their respective needs, the more efficient the whole process becomes.

4. If you get called for an interview, go: Even if it isn’t your dream job, it’s still an opportunity to make connections and learn about your options. Job descriptions are notoriously different from the actual role, and an interview is a great way to gain clarity, so don’t let the fear of an imperfect fit stop you. At worst you’ve wasted an hour or so of your time, but at best you’ve discovered a potential opportunity or even a new direction.

5. Take their advice: If your recruiter wants you to update your resume or work on some interview questions, trust them. They’ve been around the block and have learned what works and what doesn’t in their niche.

6. Remember who you’re talking to: Your interests (growing your career) may not align with that of a headhunter (making a placement and earning commission). The moment you get that sense of unease that makes you wonder if you’re getting the short end of the deal, address it. If your recruiter can’t reassure you that your goals will be met, discontinue the relationship.