An Entry from the Job Hunter's Journal

Headhunters, Friend or Foe???

I am a Third Party Technical Recruiter who likes to feel that I am a friend of any job seeker who asks for my help to find them a new position, or responds to my postings at various job posting sites on the Internet.  However, in this rather difficult economy so many of us are going through, I believe a large percentage of job seekers see me and my compatriots as foes.  The main reason for much of the present friction between third party recruiters (headhunters) and job seekers is that every job opportunity is very important to the job seeker, and this creates a lot of anxiety and a desire to lash out at anyone who stands in the way of them getting the job.  The other major reason for the friction between job seekers and third party recruiters is that the job seeker does not really understand the role of the Headhunter in the hiring process, and that is what I want to address in this blog.

  1. Headhunters do not create jobs, we merely fill them.  This sounds very basic but many job seekers feel that after they submit their resume to a recruiter, the recruiter should contact them within a week or two with positions that might be of interest to them.  The truth is, sadly, that even in a good economic times a typical recruiter only places about 5% of the job seekers they receive resumes from.  There are a lot of reasons for that low percentage, which is not a reflection of job seeker quality or headhunter skill, it just is.  I will deal with this topic in a future blog.
  2. Third Party Recruiters (Contingency or Retained) work for the company that contracts with them or hires them to fill an open position.  This means that the hiring company is the boss and the recruiter must supply only candidates that fit the company’s criteria.  To do otherwise will result in the headhunter losing the client company’s confidence in them at the least, and possibly losing the company as a client.
  3. Headhunters are given criteria by their client company that job seekers must meet, and if the job seeker’s resume does not demonstrate the required experience and training, the company will reject the resume.  Gone are the days when a recruiter could pitch a candidate to the client company just because he or she is an exceptional individual with exceptional education.
  4. The third party recruiter does not work for the job seeker.  If I could guarantee a position for every job seeker that contacts me, I would be charging the candidates and not billing companies.  Headhunters do, occasionally, market exceptional candidates into companies, but this is very time consuming, and in an era where most companies are not hiring, and job seekers post their resumes to several job boards before even contacting a recruiter, marketing job seekers into companies can be very frustrating.
  5. If a job seeker responds to one of my postings, I like to let them know that they are, or are not, being considered for the position.   Sometimes this elicits a rather negative response from the job seeker who is not being considered for the position.   The negative response is often due to their perception that they should be considered for the position because they are an exceptional individual, even though they do not meet the company’s experience and/or educational requirements.  Again, the headhunter works for the company and does not have the option of presenting individuals who do not meet their client company’s job requirements.
  6. Many job seekers believe that the only job the headhunter has is to send all the resumes they receive directly to their client companies.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Most Human Resources Managers and Department Managers are short staffed and over worked these days.  One of the main reasons companies hire third party recruits is to reduce their manager’s work load.   Out of the 200 or so resumes I receive in response to postings on the Internet, in magazines, or my web site (, only about a half dozen of the resumes are sent to the client company, and then only after I, or someone in my office, talks to the job seeker at great length about the position, their skills, job requirements, etc.
  7. Sometimes job seekers have some or all of the criteria the hiring company wants but they make no, or a cursory, effort to present this experience in their resumes.   I know this to be the case because, sometimes when I send an e-mail to a job seeker saying they lack the experience the client company wants, I get a response back saying they have the requisite experience or degree but they did not have room on the resume to include that rather significant piece of information.  I could almost understand not updating resumes to reflect job related experience if candidates were still using typewriters, with no memory, to prepare resumes but, with word processing available to almost everyone, why would a serious job seeker not revise their resumes to show their job related experience?
  8. Recruiters (both headhunter and company) are not mind readers.  If the key words that are provided in the job description are not included somewhere in the resume, or on a cover letter (on the resume is preferable), the recruiter will reject the resume.  Time is money to a recruiter, at the end of the day selling their time and experience is all they have to offer.  Trying to contact everyone who submits a resume for a position is not practical and will lead to the recruiter going out of business very quickly.
  9. Many recruiters (both third party and company) do not respond to job seekers who submit resumes, and I talk to a lot of job seekers who are very upset by this.  I do try to respond to everyone who sends me a resume but it is very time consuming, and the time spent responding to someone who sent a resume for a Custom Plastics National Sales Manager position, but whose only experience is selling lawn services, might be put to better use.  If you are responding to a job posting but you do not have at least some of the requisite job skills, please, do not waste your’s and the headhunter’s time by submitting your resume for a job in Florida and you just because you want to move to Florida.

There is much more I would like to write on this topic but I am a recruiter and both time and money are very tight at this point in time, so I must return to running my business.  I hope I have been able to clear up some misconceptions about headhunters and that this blog will proactively reduce some headhunter/job seeker frustration.