Let’s talk turkey for a minute about what to expect from headhunters, and how to establish some common sense ground rules. Here are seven issues you’ll want to discuss before you set any relationship in stone:
- Compatibility — Make sure you feel comfortable with the style, personality, intensity level, and integrity of the headhunter. As in any other business relationship, you want the other person to understand your needs and act accordingly.
- Confidentiality — Make sure your resume isn’t going to get plastered all over town without your knowledge. An inept (or anxious) recruiter can overexpose your candidacy; or worse, reveal your intention to change jobs to your own company.
- Good Judgment — Make sure you’re being sent to interviews that match your background and interests with the needs of the recruiter’s client company. The most common complaint from both candidates and employers is that recruiters “throw candidates against the wall to see what sticks.”
- Honesty — Make sure there’s either a bona fide job opening or an upgrade possibility where you’re being sent to interview. Otherwise, you’ll be spending your valuable time on one wild goose chase after another.
- Tempo — Make sure to let the recruiter know at what pace you want to proceed in your search for a new position. If you’re not ready to make a change until a later date, or simply want to explore the market, don’t let the recruiter waste your time by sending you on an interview.
- Arm-twisting — Don’t be pressured into accepting a position or a compensation package simply to please the recruiter.
- Exclusivity — It’s fine to work with a recruiter on an exclusive basis, as long as you feel comfortable with the arrangement, and the recruiter has earned the right of sole representation. On the other hand, you might not want to limit your options. Despite what you may be told, no recruiter has the exclusive “ownership” of your candidacy.
By the same token, you must be fair with headhunters. For example, if you’re pursuing a job search on your own or through another party, keep the headhunter aware of your activity, so you don’t cross paths. A recruiter’s time and reputation are his most valuable commodities; he or she deserves better than to be manipulated or left in the lurch.
Recruiters can’t work miracles by waving a magic wand over your resume; all they can do is match your background with a suitable opening, and help guide you through the job changing process efficiently and competitively. While it’s true that headhunters have their limitations and can’t be all things to all people…
It makes good sense to build a solid relationship with a competent headhunter.