Whether someone is in an active or passive employment
search, executive recruiters or “head hunters” can play
a vital role. These professionals are conduits to great
opportunities for professionals.
For many business leaders and up and coming professionals,
using executive recruiters can make or break their next step up the
corporate ladder. However, the role of executive recruiters is
often misunderstood. Here are tips to debunking four of the most
common myths about executive recruiters.
Myth #1: Recruiters are agents who work for candidates.
This is a major misconception among job seekers. Recruiters are
hired by organizations to source talent who have specific skills
and/or experiences. “Recruiters don’t find jobs for
people, they find people for jobs;” as stated by a top
recruiter from a large executive search firm.
Importantly, recruiters are not charged with generating a
large quantity of candidates but finding the “right”
candidates who meet or exceed the position specifications. While
some recruiters will include candidates who are not “on
spec”, this is not the preferred route.
The probability of someone getting hired who is not “on
spec” is low. Thus, it is not a benefit to the
recruiter’s relationship with their client to provide
candidates who are not strong contenders to be hired.
Myth #2: It is more valuable to know a few recruiters very
well. There are hundreds of recruiters, many who focus on
specific functions, industries or geographies. Each has unique and
occasionally exclusive relationships with organizations.
Thus, it is better for a candidate to increase their exposure
to a large number of firms and recruiters within those firms. This
approach will broaden the amount of organizations that a candidate
can have exposure to via recruiters.
Tony W. had a long-term relationship with a Fortune 500 firm.
During those 15+ years, he was the only recruiter to place
executives with that firm. If you didn’t come in through
Tony, you weren’t going to get placed at that firm.
Greater frequency of contact with a recruiter always
increases the probability of success. The priority for
recruiters is to forward a slate of candidates who are “on
spec” and have a high likelihood of being selected for the
role. This is independent of the depth or length of relationship
with a potential candidate.
Net, it is worth maintaining contact with recruiters and
assisting where possible on search projects. However, monthly or
more frequent calls are not necessarily the means to more
Recruiters have all the best jobs. While “head
hunters” have access to many desirable career opportunities,
assorted data sources suggest that they only represent 15-25% of
opportunities for executives.
Networking is still the predominant source of new jobs. It
dwarfs recruiters as a means of identifying new roles. While the
internet is appealing, the hit rate for new roles on line is
significantly less than recruiters. Combined this suggests that
networking is the best use of job search time. A helpful article on
networking is http://tinyurl.com/26w3to4
Rob L. represents one of many executives who have landed a new
opportunity. He used his network and elevator speech extensively.
This led to a contact introducing him to another contact which led
to an interview process.
In summary, executive recruiters should be included in any job
search; however, they are not the agents for candidates. One should
work to add a long list of recruiters, contact them periodically
and focus most search efforts on networking.