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Published on: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don’t Expect a Recruiter to Meet Your Needs


Ever wish you had access to an executive recruiter just to ask that one question? Members routinely email us their questions, and we tap into the minds of executive recruiters in our network to get their unadulterated feedback.

One ExecuNet member wrote: "I haven't used a recruiter ever before and don't know how to connect with one who could meet my needs. I've been in the computer business for over 15 years and am looking for another senior position in a small- to medium- sized business in my area. How can I find the appropriate recruiter to help me?"

Executive recruiter Nick Corcodilos, in his usual straightforward manner, offered his thoughts on the topic. Here's an excerpt of what he had to say:

The bottom line is, no recruiter will "meet your needs." Recruiters work for employers, either as in-house employees who search for job candidates, or as independent "headhunters" who work on very specific assignments for employers. Headhunters and recruiters don't find anyone a job.

The "recruiters" and "headhunters" you see online who claim they're going to find you a job for money or if you'll just send them your résumé, are either frauds or wasting your time. The latter will merely splatter your résumé all over kingdom come (that's easy online), causing you potential embarrassment, and making you appear desperate.

So now that we know recruiters aren't in business to "help you," your challenge is to do it for yourself. It's not rocket science. It starts with picking your target companies carefully. Yup — that means no broadcasting, no applying for jobs that "come along," and no waiting for employers to find you. (Job ads are largely a waste of time.) [Editor's note: ExecuNet research reveals that online job postings are responsible for connecting just 8 percent of recruiters to executive candidates.] You have to carefully select employers and positions, and then pursue them doggedly and intelligently.

The only way to do this is to hang around people connected to each company. They are your best chance at getting "in the door." And that's the point of my reply to you. This is how headhunters operate. Learn to do it yourself. If there's a "secret," this is it: We get close to those who are connected to a company (or to great people in their field), we contribute to that little community, build our credibility and get introduced to decision-makers.

There is nothing easy about this. It takes a lot of work. But you can't pay anyone to do it for you — in spite of what some companies may tell you.

While chasing headhunters is also largely a waste of time, once you develop a presence among people who do the work you want to do, the best headhunters will find you — and you should learn how to get their attention and how to work with them.

Nick Corcodilos is an executive placement expert and the host of the acclaimed and contrarian Ask the Headhunter.

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Robyn Greenspan's avatarRobyn Greenspan
Robyn Greenspan is ExecuNet's Chief Content Officer, where she is responsible for setting and driving the editorial content engagement strategy across the private business network's publications and expert-led programming. She is also a Huffington Post blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @RobynGreenspan

Posted by Mike Hynson
07/07 @ 03:10 PM
I have only gotten a job from a recruiter 1 time in my career. All other positions have been through personal contacts.
Posted by scott
07/07 @ 02:54 PM
Every job I have had has come through relationships with people that were made in college, not recruiters. People join people, not organizations.
Posted by Sean Sheppard
07/07 @ 02:47 PM
While I have been recruited, I have never actually received a position via a recruiter. In fact, I have not submitted a formal resume for a position in more than ten years. Every opportunity has come through my network.
Posted by John
07/07 @ 02:35 PM
The last two positions I obtained through recruiters were not good fits and did not end well. After a search which looked like more of the same, I choose a different path and started my own consulting firm. I used my network to develop clients and a reputation, which led to a call from an owner out of the blue for the top level executive position in the company
Posted by Jean Mulrine DeMange
07/07 @ 02:25 PM
After 25 years as a Search Consultant our practice is a bit different. We work with companies to fill management level opportunities and also work closely with those networked candidates who we can help/assist with our contacts.

The one thing we practice and believe in is honesty and directness in our conversations. If you have no contacts in their area of expertise, tell them so they don't waste time and if possible point them in the right direction.This way it affords them the opportunity to work with someone who has those contacts. We have always had conversations with people who are referred to us and if we can't assist them in their career search we advise them so. If we are not the best vehicle for them we state that as well and give them some pointers/guidance to aid them in someway in their search.

Over the years that goodwill has always has returned to us with good referrals and our business has continued to grow. We are still here after many others have gone under with many recessions.

This past year we contributed to the book which came out in March 2011 - "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career" by Michelle and David Riklan. There are some famous individuals who are contributing authors; Brian Tracy, Charlotte Weeks, Tory Johnson and Laura DeCarlo plus many others in the profession. The book has many voices of how to land a good job, how to work with a recruiter and how to attempt your job search. We contributed to this book because of the years we have spent networking and was asked to share some of our thoughts due to the changes in companies due to mergers, acquisitions, and realignments.

I agree that many in this business are not talented enough to have conversations with people who are seeking career positions and growth. They haven't been mentored and only know how to download off the internet, pass paper and make placements doing so. There are many recruiters and executive search professionals out there who are talented & experienced and have been a support to candidates on their search path for new opportunity or growth position, as well as, to executives in corporations by bringing talent to their organization to help them achieve their mission and growth.
Posted by Robert Vaughn
07/07 @ 02:20 PM
The best success has been via my network on LinkedIn and local professional networking groups. LinkedIn is a far superior solution to most, if not all, of the paid subscription based boards. The trend even with employers is to move away from the expensive job boards and leverage the advantages of the profile capability, recommendations and the associated network individuals provided on LinkedIn because it provide a more balanced insight into the candidate. A candidate can quickly assess the competitive threat that these features represent to the like of the Ladders and ExecuNet to determine the best value for their search dollar. Just look at how fast each of the paid subscription services is trying to copy the LinkedIn model in an effort to retain members. That train has left the station... Just as I left ExecuNet for LinkedIn with outstanding results.
Posted by Tom
07/07 @ 02:14 PM
My last 5 positions (over the last 15 years) have all been attained through networking. Earlier in my careeer I was placed by recruiters but once I got established opportunities arose via networking.
Posted by Jim Vivian
07/07 @ 02:13 PM
I have had great experiences in utilizing "headhunters" as well as with Networking.

I located my current position by being referred by an acquaintance of a former colleague who knew my current organization was seeking experienced Site Ops Executives. This chance happening led me to an exploratory interview with a Sr VP who then passed me on to the President...who stayed in contact with me until the position I currently hold became available.

Networking has always been lucrative for me.

Earilier in my career, during the 80's, I landed a plum Director level position with an Industry leader through a cold call from a Headhunter...

When it comes to any job search...Make a list of everyone you know business related or personal. Contact every one of them to advise them of your current situation and ask them to pass on your credentials to anyone they know. You may be suprised as to how much they want to assist you in your job quest.

At the same time, contact every known Headhunter, Search Firm, Recruiter and investigate whatever opportunities they have.

Hit all of the job search engines daily as listings constantly change. Apply for all positions you are interested through the search engine.

Don't let up...This must become the primarly focal point of your existence until you land the position you desire.

Depending on your speciality, this can take time...My searches have been as short as 2 weeks and as long as 14 months...Stay with it.

Happy Hunting...

Jim V
Posted by Kathleen Fogarty
07/07 @ 02:07 PM
I got my last job as a contractor ( one year Computer Operator position ) through a recruiter. I am currently working with a recruiter to obtain another Computer Operations job. Recruiters have been good for me. I enjoy networking, too. It's very interesting to find out what someone has been doing that you have worked with previously.
Posted by Bob Nixon
07/07 @ 01:55 PM
As a single professional consultant, I landed my 2 largest clients through In both cases, the clients searched for my area of expertise (DBE/MBE/WBE participation and Buy America compliance). I found all of my other clients from my own networking and outreach efforts. Prior to opening my own business, I found all of my previous employers through either my own networking or (surprisingly) Help Wanted ads in newspapers. I've never had much luck with recruitment firms. The few referrals I received were for positions far outside my expertise (formerly foodservice management and purchasing)or significantly below my wage range.
Posted by David
07/07 @ 01:46 PM
My last job was found for me by a recruiter, I of course went the networking route as well but at the time it seemed like no one was hiring Network Engineers go figure.
Posted by Sandi
07/07 @ 01:44 PM
My last 2 positions were found through networking with former colleagues that connected me to others. Linked In was a resource for maintaining connections that might otherwise be lost over time.
Posted by Brian Flagg
07/07 @ 01:43 PM
I came to the realization the hard way that recruiters are not working for you. I should have known, but there are ocassions when you need to be hit squarely in the face before you understand. In my opinion, recruiters are very much like a car salesperson. Their principle task is to match person to car, and get you to buy that car at the highest price you are willing to pay. The task of the recruiter is to match person to position and get you to take that position at the lowest salary you are willing to accept. In my most recent experience, I was looking at two opportunities I initiated, and was connected with the recruiting firms. Knowing well my salary expectations, the recruiters went ahead and scheduled interviews, both over the phone and in-person, and allowed me to get quite far in the process before 'fessing-up' that they could only get somewhat close to my salary range. It was very frustrating. I found my current, excellent position by networking, by participating in online discussion groups, reaching out to colleagues from past assignments, and by writing articles. Finding the right opportunity means getting noticed, I call the 'stickiness' factor. You begin by following others, answering discussion posts by others, commenting on articles written by others, all the while increasing your stickiness. Then graduate to creating your own discussions and writing your own articles. Then, you get stickier and have people following you. The more that follow, the higher your stickiness, and the more noticed you become. Opportunhities will then come knoocking on YOUR door.
Brian Flagg
Posted by Shaiilesh
07/07 @ 01:36 PM
The whole article is based on wrong perspective. A recruiters job is to fill the requirements of organizations.

Placement consultants or career coaches are the one who will find job for you but they are mostly paid services as they are expected to work for you as a client. Problem is finding a genuine placement agency or consultant, for not having ability to spot one is individuals fault.

I have been primarily a recruiters but over last ten years of my career, I have coached many job seekers to find a suitable job. I have been able to do so as by virtue of my job, I understand how the whole recruitment cycle works. Once an individual knows how the whole cycle works it wont be difficult to figure out how to leverage recruiters and placement agencies to get much better result than networking.

If networking is the best option then why the top organizations hire the executive search firms?
Posted by David Magy
07/07 @ 01:26 PM
Great article with a misleading title! I wish that the title would lead a job seeker to read the article. People that will judge the article by its title will miss the key message - and assume something completely different (and negative to the search profession).
Posted by Shaiilesh
07/07 @ 01:24 PM
Social Networking or social media for recruitment is a media hype. Its a time consuming and inefficient way, for C level executives, I can agree to some extent but for regular recruitment need's of organizations its just a hoax and hype of media.

Two years more and this platform will burst with no takers to buy. Forget about social media any platform of interaction is just a medium to mine the resumes beyond that its the recruiters hard work that gets you work.
Posted by Michael J O'Donnell
07/07 @ 01:23 PM
I obtained my last position through networking. I was able to gain exposure to CEO, then, I presented my present skills to help the organization gain its short and long term goals.
I not one to use recruiters, most seem to place positions in front of you for a quick sale for them.
Posted by Djinto Tjandra
07/07 @ 01:22 PM
I got my job from a recruiter when I worked at SAP America, Inc. Recruiter has the best positions and understand the company better than the rest of us. I suggest go through the recruiter when you're looking for job because it save a lot of you times and efforts.

They know the hiring manager and will get the best deal for you.

Thanks to my recruiter to get me a job at SAP America, Inc. and it's a wonderful job as an application consultant to serve people around the world.
Posted by Gennady Belyukin
07/07 @ 01:21 PM
Yes, it's true. My recent employment was through recruiters (they managed to find me) while all other four cases in my career - were from friends and my network. Very clear ratio.
Posted by Dennis Caicedo
07/07 @ 01:19 PM
After searching for as long as I have, I am 'finally' convinced that you are RIGHT!
It occured to me recently when a recruiter excitedly contacted me for an ideal position with an awesome company (a company that is difficult to penetrate). She was so excited for me...but I never even got up to bat (interview)...and never heard from her again.

When I found my very first job out of school - way back when we didn't even have fax machines, let alone the internet - I was advised the same...and I literally walked from company to company with my resume in hand...dropping it off directly with the actual department or division where I wished to work. After 50 or more stops, I went on 5 great interviews and was hired by the #2 company in the world at the time! NEW Job searching techniques have gotten the best of me...I think I'll go back to the 'old fashion' way. smile
Posted by Sal Tuzzo
07/07 @ 01:15 PM
I stopped associating with all executive position(job) placement agencies after spending a lot of money for the paid ones as well as communicating with the ones paid by the company.

I am a seasoned Hi-tech designer and innovator of new products. I have created my own jobs and income by creating products and selling them since 1980 and do not regret on moment for making that decision.
I have found that many of the recruitment centers are just spies for the industry to see what you are working on and for who.

Information is money today for those that have it.

Knowledge and know how generates stability and income and is longer lasting than information once released to market.

Enjoy the ride.
Posted by David Yeh
07/07 @ 01:14 PM
My current position at Winco as EVP Sales and Marketing through networking. CFO found me.
Posted by David Jones
07/07 @ 01:13 PM
Great question, Robyn...

A friend who is part owner of a website development and online marketing company ( part of a script I'd authored and liked how I wrote. In chats he also liked how I thought. He offered me a few hours a month to do some freelance writing, and I took it.

Starting out as an underpaid freelance writer, I quickly exceeded expectations on the assignments I was given, bringing in many projects under budget at a higher level than anticipated. I was then given some online marketing responsibility. Soon enough they were asking for my opinion on their website, on how to approach clients with fresh ideas, for creative and strategic input. Then, they began negotiating with me to develop a sales model for future growth and now I run their sales development department. But, it all started with a little networking with a friend who believed enough in me to give me my first writing assignment.

My writing calling card was a screenplay I had written. One never knows how life will lead, but I was blessed enough to maximize the opportunities before me. Now the real hard work begins!

My very best,
David Jones
Posted by Ted Goushy
07/07 @ 01:11 PM
Recruiter? I havent talked to one in 12 years. I had landed my current job via networking.
Posted by Paul McDaniel
07/07 @ 01:10 PM
I leverage recruiters as one element of the job search. We all need access to inside information, if you can find a recruiter with a relationship with a firm you have targeted, striking up a conversation was been useful. Ultimately, the recruiter will only help when that job gets posted and they can link you up and gain their fee.

I found some of these folks while in a position and they wanted to set up a business relationship with my company. Good time to network and screen people you might want to leverage when the time comes. I don't take all of their calls, but will take some and communicate quarterly to maintain a relationship.

My recent job changes have not all engaged a recruiter, but when one is involved, you can get access to otherwise unavailable information like how many candidates the propsective employer is talking to, what hot buttons you have to be prepared to hit in the second interview. But once again, the recruiter is only helping you so they can get their fee and improve their relationship with their customer.
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