July 31, 2013
Recruiter, headhunter, agency or coach? Clarifying roles
I received a LinkedIn message recently from someone asking me if I knew any recruiters working with candidates for a particular type of work in a specific industry. I get at least two or three of these questions a month; I am a corporate recruiter, which means I recruit specifically for one company, and I have strict ethical and legal obligations that limit my recruiting activities outside my employer for pay.
People seem to believe that there are personal "headhunter"- type recruiters who work with individuals to help them find new career opportunities. If that's what you're looking for, what you really need is a direct-placement agency or an independent consulting recruiter -- not a corporate recruiter.
Neither agencies nor freelance recruiters typically work directly with job seekers as clients (unless they are candidates for an opening the recruiter has). They work with hiring organizations for the very simple reason that those companies pay significant money for qualified candidates -- usually 20 percent to 30 percent of the new hire's anticipated first-year salary, billed and paid in one lump sum.
For both agencies and freelance recruiters, it is much easier to find qualified candidates than it is to find clients. Recruiters generally work in a cross-section of industries. The trick to connecting with them is to identify the companies you are interested in and reach out to the recruiters who work with (or have worked with) them -- not to try to convince the recruiter to represent you to every company in his or her network. Almost all recruiters in the Seattle area are on LinkedIn, so this is your de facto research tool.
This is not to say that a recruiter isn't open to passing along the occasional resume to a contact. However, keep in mind that agency and freelance recruiters are paid specifically to get results for their clients. If you need help honing your networking or job-hunting skills, it's best to contact one of the several excellent career coaches in the area.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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