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On the Hunt: How to Choose a Headhunter

how to choose a headhunter

On the Hunt: How to Choose a Headhunter

You’re out in the market, you’ve polished your resume, and you’re networking like crazy. But you want a little extra help, a second pair of eyes and ears on the lookout for your next opportunity. One solution is to work with a headhunter. Having a professional help you can reduce stress and expedite your job search. But how do you choose a headhunter? What do you need to know about them? And what will they ask of you?

how to choose a headhunter

Here are tips on how to choose a headhunter:

First of all, know what you want. If you’re looking for a new job and you want someone to help, they need to know who you are and what you want. Be prepared to communicate your skill sets, your experience and your future career goals. Have an up-to-date, polished resume at the ready.

Reach out. You don’t have to sit on LinkedIn and hope someone will offer to work with you. Research headhunters.

[bctt tweet=”Find headhunters who are geographically in the market in which you want to work, or a specialist in your industry.” username=””]

Read about their background, their approach, whatever is available to see if they might be the right fit. And if they are, reach out. Send an email introducing yourself and why you would be interested in working together.

Ask questions. Ask tough questions, but be prepared for tough answers. Ask them if that gap on your resume is a problem (for them, or their clients). Find out what the market is like, and how you compare to their other candidates.

Discuss your own concerns about your job search (limited availability, salary requirements). Get a timeline from them. Before you choose a headhunter, you need to have had a transparent conversation about what they can or can’t offer.

Remember who they work for. It’s sometimes hard to remember that a headhunter doesn’t work for you. They may help you find a job, but really they are trying to help an employer find a candidate.

That might sound like the same thing, but it’s not. A headhunter will almost always act in their client’s – the employer’s – best interests. So if you aren’t a strong match for what they’re looking for, they won’t be willing to damage their relationship with the company by providing potential employees that don’t fit their job requirements.

That said, headhunters usually get a percentage of your starting salary, so they can be an ally when trying to negotiate your compensation.

When you do finally choose a headhunter, you want to feel confident about them.

You need to feel good that the headhunter is genuinely interested in working with you, and believe they might have opportunities for you. An honest headhunter won’t make promises – no one can. But they will set expectations, and they should match what you need to feel good about your search.

And of course, this doesn’t mean you should sit back and prepare for them to do all the work. Keep working other contacts, stay active on LinkedIn and search career sites for job postings. You can hunt for a headhunter, but don’t forget the goal is a job, not a new (if useful) resource.