Hunting down a headhunter -- Page 2
It is likewise unethical for them to recruit from
within a client's own ranks or to work too closely with a client's
"There are times when even though it might be
a great opportunity for me, I can't recruit from a client for another
client," says Kefgen.
Retained executive search firms work exclusively with
the crème de la crème. If you're an industry leader,
they will find you, says Gurney.
"If a company is going to pay a recruiter thousands
of dollars, that recruiter has to find the exact XYZ person for
the exact XYZ job," he says. "Recruiters only fill 10-to-15
percent of all jobs, but they are the crucial jobs that companies
are willing to pay the money for. They can get a so-so fit on their
Kefgen agrees: "It tends to be a sort of rite
of passage. Once you reach a certain level in your career progression,
you start getting calls from executive recruiters."
Maybe you need a good coach
Geof Boole sees the other side of the employment dating game. As
executive vice president of Right Management, an outplacement specialist,
his goal is to help laid-off
professionals get back on their feet and headed in a positive
Business has been good the past two years, unfortunately.
"We have people who have been knocked off the
horse a second and third time and they know what to do but they
still need help," Boole says. "Time was, if somebody had
more than two or three jobs in a 10-year span, you probably wouldn't
hire them. Now, if they don't have three or four jobs in a 10-year
span, you probably would wonder about them. How times change."
Right Management eases workforce reduction by offering
different services to different levels of the organization depending
on their needs. In 2003, Right successfully placed 91.8 percent
of their outbound workers. The average placement took nearly eight
Much of Boole's time is spent redirecting people who
want to get back up on the same horse.
"As a result, you get more people looking for
fewer jobs," he says. "The most advantageous way to get
another job is to focus on where your industry is expanding instead
Getting your foot in the back door
Darrell Gurney switched his focus from recruitment to coaching
after the dot-com collapse, and he's glad he did. Today, recruiters
have too many top-notch candidates for too few openings.
"At the height of the dot-com era, if you were
breathing, a recruiter could find you a job. Today, recruiters are
still good to be in touch with, but the most you can do is to make
sure you are in their system so they can find you whenever they
are doing their keyword searches for candidates. You can't expect
them to return your call, you can't expect them to chat with you,
and you really can't expect them to fit you into something that
you're not an absolute, absolute perfect fit for."
Gurney says effective networking -- "the back-door
method" -- is more important now than ever before. He counsels
his candidates to spend 20 percent of their time on the front door
(applying for jobs, meeting recruiters, doing the old "post-and-pray"
on Internet job sites) and 80 percent of their time making contacts
within their industry.
"Going through the back door, it's not about
if you've got a job (opening), it's about finding reasons to meet
people and get on their radar screens and develop relationships,"
he says. "It's going to be your job security. We are moving
away from the permanent-job economy into a freelance economy, and
in the world of freelancing, it is all about who you know."
Boole agrees: "People are a lot more realistic
today. They're looking at a five-year job window for the most part,
and that's probably doing pretty well. I always think the stupidest
question a recruiter can ask is, 'Where do you want to be in 10
Getting and keeping those contacts may be time well
invested in the new mobile economy.
"The worst thing a job seeker can do is meet
somebody once and then not follow up with them any more, or once
they get their next job, drop all of those contacts," says
"I tell people, when you're in your career search,
find a reason to be in touch with people who you've met every 30
days, and then when you get your next job you follow up every 90
days. You have to keep the tribe out there aware of you."
Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor
based in Mississippi.