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Monday, October 6, 2008

More on Executive Recruiters

I wrote a blog about using recruiters (see below) awhile ago. Here are more of my thoughts on the matter, this time focusing on executive recruiters.

When considering executive recruiters, it's most important to work with individuals with long arms in your industry. You're essentially "allowing" them to work with you (and collect their placement fee from the employer) because you think they can reach places or companies better than you can. Google them, check them out on LinkedIn, ask around - if they have a large presence and seem well connected, they're probably worth talking to.

If a company wants to charge you for the privilege of representing you, look elsewhere. In my opinion, agents who charge thousands of dollars for their services are the bottom feeders of the industry. They prey on desperate job seekers who don’t realize they can’t find the same information (resume writing, interview coaching and job search strategy assistance) for much less elsewhere. Check out for more information about some of the worst offenders.

When you talk with a recruiter, find out how they operate - on retainer or contingency. If the latter, ask if they have an exclusive relationship or if there are other recruiters also working on the positions they represent. Pay more attention to retained recruiters, in general you will be treated better and get better information from them because they are closer to the employer. Just realize that they are working for the employer, so listen to what they say about them and then check their facts.

When you do speak with executive recruiters, ask about their recent placements. Good recruiters will be able to rattle off several of their most recent placements, including the level their candidate was hired into, the industry and the name of the company. Pick one or two placements at random and ask when the placement was made. Solo executive recruiters should be placing 8-10 candidates per year if they're running a thriving business. Ask what you could expect from them, find out if they are willing to market you and get a sense of whether you'll enjoy talking with them throughout the job search.

A downside to working with recruiters is the cost to the employer. If you have an "in" via your network, don't use the recruiter to get in to that particular company. Employers are paying up to 35% for finder’s fees vs. a few hundred dollars for an employee referral, so it's much better for employers to find their talent outside of the contingent search. If an employer has an exclusive relationship with a recruiter, they've agreed to route all candidates through that recruiter, so there's no avoiding them in that scenario.