Ask Matt: Hunting for a Headhunter

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: September 13, 2010 - 2:00 PM

Finding a headhunter can be another resource to explore in the job search. Understanding how a headhunter works is the first step to finding one that can help you.

Dear Matt: What do headhunters do, and can they really help me? If so, how do I find a good one that can help?

Matt: Most job seekers don't understand how headhunters actually work, says Lissa Weimelt, owner of Search Pro Services (searchproservices.com), a Twin Cities-based executive search firm.

"People have misconceptions about what recruiters/headhunters do, and that causes a lot of tension between headhunters and job seekers," says Weimelt, a headhunter herself.

Here's the scoop: Headhunters work on behalf of an employer - not a job seeker. Their client is the employer who pays them a fee to find the best candidate possible. That's where the mix up comes in - headhunters do not represent job seekers - they represent employers. A headhunter makes decisions and choices that are best for the company, not the job seeker.

That being said, there are a number of ways you can find a headhunter to help you, says Weimelt:

Ask colleagues/friends in your profession/network for a referral. Once you get the name of a person, e-mail them a cover letter/résumé and highlight three to four specific accomplishments, your target salary and the type of job/company you are looking to work for. A few days later, make an introductory phone call to them.

Research headhunters in your area who conduct searches in your field. Some headhunters are generalist, and others specialize in specific job functions.

Use social media such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to conduct research and find contacts. Find groups that discuss this on LinkedIn.

Ask members of professional associations affiliated with your career what headhunters they have used and try to get that contact information.

"If the headhunter decides you are a good fit for their client, ask to be prepped on how you can be the most effective interviewer to best represent yourself and the headhunter in front of the employer," says Weilmelt. "Heed the headhunter's advice. Do your homework about the client."

Be prepared to look for find multiple headhunters and keep in mind, headhunters are busy people and not everyone will be able to review your résumé or meet with you.

Finally, ask the headhunter how you can help them. Like any networking relationship, it's a two-way street. If you have contacts or resources that can help them - be prepared to share that information.

Do you have an employment related or job search question for Matt? E-mail him today at askmatt@startribune.com.

All responses will be in the paper and no names will be used to protect your privacy.

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