Career

Executive Recruiter vs Headhunter

Someone much more famous once said, “HELP! I need somebody.” Hopefully, this will provide some insights to John, Paul, and anyone else considering a job change.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

According to AARP, nearly 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age (65) every single day in the U-S. If that fact isn’t staggering enough, consider this: this trend is expected to continue for at least another decade. Why should this trivial statistic be of concern to you?

Well, with that staggering steady flow of retirees, you will likely find an abundance of job opportunities available in the very short tenure. Yet with this pending talent shortage, you undoubtedly be facing some significant competition from others also looking for new positions as well. So, if you interested in having an advantage over other jobseekers, keep reading.

Where Do You Turn?

If you’ve been in your industry for even a short amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly been contacted by a headhunter or recruiter. The good news is most industry there are dozens, if not hundreds, of recruiting professionals willing to help you find your next role regardless of your chosen industry.

If you are one of the few who hasn’t been contacted by before, you may be asking yourself where you can find one. Thank goodness, there are several options. The most obvious is Linked IN. There you will find headhunters galore to choose from. Another viable resource is to talk to a colleague, friend, or family member who they recommend you consult. Surely someone has been in touch with a career agent.

So, first things first.

What’s the difference between a headhunter and a recruiter?

In all actuality, there is no major difference. Headhunter is merely a slang term many use when referring to recruiters. Some recruiters take offense to being called a ‘headhunter’, while others feel it’s a compliment.

As a 25-year veteran recruiter, I fall into the latter camp. I pride myself on being able to identify, entice, and represent the best possible advertising/marketing talent in the industry—I’m seeking out a specific “head”. To be successful requires various skills—part salesperson, part marketer, part negotiator, part psychiatrist, and part unbiased judge. And that’s just some of the attributes needed.

Rules of the Road

When you’re working with a recruiter/headhunter, there are some unwritten rules you need to be aware of. First and foremost, never ever pay for their services. As the job seeker, you don’t pay a dime. My expenses are paid for by the company looking to hire you. I tell my candidates, all I ask for is your complete honesty…about all matters, good or bad.

My job isn’t to judge your past, it’s to consult on your future.

Another critical tidbit—I’ve had some candidates tell me that they can’t work with me. Can’t or won’t? While ‘won’t’ is troublesome, I’m a big boy; I can accept that. But ‘can’t’? When I inquire why they can’t, I’m told that they have an exclusive contract with another recruiter. I’m here to tell you, no recruiter anywhere has an exclusive relationship with any candidate.

You’re able to work with as many recruiters at the same time as you wish. Personally, I would suggest maybe two, possibly three.

If they’re doing their job properly, they should keep you plenty busy with alternative job opportunities. The simple reason why it doesn’t make sense to have an ‘exclusive relationship’ with any recruiter is because there are certain companies that are my clients. And I will never take anyone out of any of those companies. They pay me good money to fill their vacancies…not to make vacancies.

Taking candidates out of the companies that are paying me a fee is not only dirty business, but it’s also downright unethical. So, if you work for a company that is currently paying me a fee to fill an opening, I will not, under any circumstance, represent you to another company. ‘Nuff said.

Takes one to Know one

Finally, and possibly most importantly, only work with a recruiter who specializes in your specific industry. If a headhunter tells you that he or she’s a generalist, don’t walk away, run! You want someone who knows your industry inside out.

Think of it like this: if your cable TV is on the blink, you don’t call a plumber, do you? You want an expert performing the work properly.

A solid recruiter knows the thought leaders, key executives, emerging companies, latest trends, everything about a specific industry. A generalist may know topline newsworthy information, but with each industry having nuances, and that’s what you want–their expertise.

Before agreeing to work with any recruiter, interview them. Just as they will you. Find out what and who they know about your industry. A reputable headhunter will be happy to provide references they’ve partnered with in the past.

Related: 30+ Great Questions to Ask Recruiters Before an Interview

Build a rapport with them. It will pay off in the long run. There are some executives I’ve known for 20-plus years and have yet place them in a job. However, I continue to call them and they call me. The reason being is because sooner or later, we both believe I’ll have the right opportunity. That’s what you call true partnership.

So, regardless if you’re working with a headhunter, a recruiter, a career consultant makes no difference. Just be sure to partner with an expert that you have a rapport with. You’ll be much better off in the long run.

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