Role of Executive Recruiters & Headhunters
Executive recruiters (headhunters) are hired by their client companies to find qualified individuals for all levels of positions and functional skills.
Recruiters fall into two general classifications:Contingency and Retained.
Some recruiters perform both types of searches. Each serves as a gatekeeper for their clients by interviewing job seekers and forwarding only résumés of capable candidates.
Contingency recruiting firms are paid a fee for their service only after a job seeker submitted to a client company accepts an offer and begins to work. Hiring companies may use one or more contingency firms to fill a position.
For a company using several recruiters, the first one to send the winning candidate’s résumé to the company’s recruiting manager gets the fee. If the company finds the hired candidate, then none of the contingency recruiters receives a fee.
Because contingency recruiters are usually in a high-speed candidate chase, they submit résumés to clients as fast as qualified candidates are identified and screened, and they usually do not wait to gather a slate of candidates.
Retained executive search firms are under exclusive agreementswith clients to find the best person to fill an open position. With very few exceptions, only one retained firm is paid by a client to present at least five to ten qualified candidates. The exclusivity arrangement between recruiter and client has an important significance to the job seeker.
If a company is using a retained recruiter for a particularsearch, the retained recruiter will submit a slate of candidates, usually five or more, and the recruiter is the only gatekeeper authorized to submit candidates.
The only other way to be considered for a position in the client company is to go directly to the hiring company. More importantly, when you are researching competing candidates in subsequent interviews, you will know that the recruiter who interviewed you also screened the other candidates.
The recruiter assesses how closely the candidate satisfies the position requirements. Closeness of fit (i.e., has the candidate done it before) is usually the most important criterion in the decision to send the job seeker’s résumé to the client.
There can be mitigating circumstances that might push the recruiter to send a résumé, even if the candidate is not a “perfect” match. If a client search is lengthy and the recruiter divulges to you that very few qualified candidates have been identified, then you may get lucky.
Emphasize relevant strengths and attempt to convince the recruiter to send your résumé to the client as a test case to see how flexible the client is regarding closeness of fit. Recruiters sometimes apply this tactic because it may enable them to submit additional candidates if a client reacts favorably to the trial candidate.
Professional appearance and soft skills are other key criteria in the send/not send decision. If the position requires clear, articulate speech for telephone sales calls, a résumé will not be sent if the candidate does not communicate well.
If the candidate is interviewing for a consulting position with extensive customer contact, his appearance must be professional and immaculate.
Make it easy for the recruiter to include your résumé in the group being sent to a client. For each candidate, first-rate recruiters prepare a background summary describing how closely the position requirements are satisfied.
If you are fortunate to know the requirements in advance of your recruiter interview, bring a list of the requirements followed by a brief description of your relevant experiences and accomplishments that demonstrate how closely you satisfy each requirement.
Depending on the initial dialogue between you and therecruiter, this list could be sent by e-mail before the interview or presented in hard copy form during the interview.
If presented during the interview, you should update the summary immediately afterwards based on new information you learned and include it as a WORD document attachment to your email thank you note.
Most recruiters would be delighted to receive your summary, which would be edited and sent to the hiring client if you succeeded in convincing the recruiter that you are a viable candidate.
If you were sent to a company interview by a recruiter, then it is common courtesy to provide the recruiter with feedback after the interview. The one certainty in the search process is that the recruiter will call you if you do not call immediately after an interview.
The recruiter will ask you to describe what transpired with each interviewer. Do you think the client liked you? Did you like the interviewer and the company? Who did you meet? What questions were you asked? What is the interviewer’s personality? Did the interviewer describe the position requirements the same way I did? Were you told the timeframe for the next step?
A recruiter can be helpful and smooth over a faux pas that occurred during the interview, so it is in your best interest to provide interview feedback to the recruiter. If you forgot to describe an important vignette or to include it in your thank-you note, you can ask the recruiter to mention it.
Finally, most company contacts ask recruiters what the candidate thought about the company, and you want the recruiter to be in the position of saying that you were very interested.
There is one risk to be aware of when updating a recruiter on thedetails of an interview. Candidates submitted by recruiters are your competitors in this high-stakes game and only one of you will win.
Although most recruiters are professional and ethical and do not intentionally share information about one candidate with another, slip-ups can and do occur.
In their zeal to prepare each candidate for an upcoming interview, recruiters may inform other candidates of a questionyou were asked or an environment you experienced.
To increase your chances of winning more points than your competitors, you should erect a firewall to prevent other candidates from accessing company intelligence you uncovered during the interview.
If values were assigned to information a job seeker can gather in an interview, the highest value would go to the description of position requirements, followed by interviewer personality assessments, company politics, and cultural information.
Filter out or play down this and other pertinent information when briefing recruiters and other individuals who might be in a position to accidentally jeopardize your candidacy.