Four Rules For Using Headhunters

Executive recruiters (aka headhunters) can provide a valuable resource to help you land your next job. Unfortunately, many candidates do not understand the proper rules of engagement. Often they wrongly expect executive recruiters like myself to be unpaid servants who will gladly meet their every employment need. Instead, I am guided by the requirements of the paying customer, the employer. Employers retain me to find specific talent per their recruiting requirements. However, during the executive search process, just like a realtor who needs to balance the needs of the home buyer and seller, I too have to meet the needs of both parties because: a) hiring companies pay my fees and b) job seekers can provide a wealth of candidate referrals, which can translate into my fees.

However, in order to gain maximum benefit from a headhunter you will need to follow four simple rules. First, be aware that I am guided by the paying customer’s needs first and foremost. Second, each headhunter only has a limited number of clients and openings. Therefore, do not expect me to be a one-stop supermarket for all job openings. Instead, you need to contact several executive recruiters and follow many avenues to meet your employment needs. Third, when a recruiter like myself asks for certain information, please provide it. This will help me to best meet your needs. Finally, please do not expect a lot of personal guidance. Though I provide a lot more free resources than most recruiters including 1) a weekly blog at and 2) monthly instructional videos called “The 12 Commandments of Interviewing” at I cannot provide customized assistance. For that, you will need to retain me on a consulting basis.

To demonstrate the anthethis of how to properly utilize an executive recruiter, I reference a Prima donna who contacted me today. I met this person several times at various SEO (Search Engine Optimization) functions. To date he has never sent me his resume or any relevant career information. Furthermore, when I requested pertinent information from him today by directing him to: he refused. Instead, his response was, “I’m not a resume in a database, I’m a person. When you’d like to actually follow up, please let me know.” He went on to lecture me about “his” rules of engagement including how I should comport myself, provide him regular updates and work to quickly place him in his dream job. Needless to say I will never work with this candidate.

Remember, headhunters can assist you in finding a job. However, you will need to follow these four simple rules in order to foster a good relationship.