Don’t Rely on a Search Firm to Find a Job
There is always an opportunity, even in challenging market conditions, to think positive and think creative. You need to build a personal strategy to identify and access the hidden job market – not just the agency jobs or advertised roles – but the jobs out there that are right for you.
Don’t expect an agency or headhunter to do all the work. Think about it, who is the best person to represent you? What is going to impress an employer more; you making contact because someone they know recommended you or someone else trying to sell you for a commission?
Cracking the hidden job market
Headhunters charge a lot of money for their services so organisations are only going to use them when they can’t source candidates by networking, LinkedIn or using their own resources. In the current difficult employment market nobody is going to pay for advertising or a headhunter when they have candidates hammering at their front doors.
So if you want a new job then Human Resources is not the place you should start and headhunters are not in the business of finding your dream job for you. A headhunter might get you an interview but you’re more likely to be successful if you’ve already made contact with people at that firms that interest you. Being well connected counts.
If you’ve been contacted by a headhunter you think is credible then work the relationship for all it’s worth. Successful headhunters rely on their excellent networking skills and building relationships with a wide range of contacts to build their reputation within the sectors that they specialise in. So, for potential candidates, head-hunters can be great people to know.
The savvy job seeker is not just looking for a new role but looking for people to contact so as to seek out the challenges and opportunities that arise from good networking. Now, there are some headhunters out there who are genuinely specialists in their field so they might be able to help with new contacts. Bear in mind that you are only likely to be of interest to such a person if you are sufficiently high profile within your sector to be a known quantity identifiable to their researchers.
The other thing to bear in mind is that if a headhunter specialises in a particular sector then some companies are going to be off-limits. After working with a client they’ll generally agree a hands-off policy for a certain time and that may limit the target market they may introduce you to.
So make headhunters part of your network, even if you’re not looking right now, you need all the contacts you can get when you do start looking to move. Make sure they know your areas of interest and specialism, what you are looking for and your achievements. Make it plain exactly what you are looking for, packaging the information about yourself so the headhunter knows how to represent you.
And remember that networking is about reciprocity. So if a headhunter calls asking you if anyone in your network might be suitable for a specific role, be receptive to the idea of helping someone else’s career if you can. Help your contacts if you want them to help you.