Steadfast Finances10 Benefits of Using a Headhunter/Recruiter

10 Benefits of Using a Headhunter/Recruiter

Filed in 20s Something Advice , Career , college life 23 comments

danifight-headhunters-warriorsDuring my last year of graduate school, I (and many others like me) became the prime target of a band of ruthless, money hungry headhunters.

Not the kind trying to separate my head from my body, but the kind that wanted to make money from the knowledge stored in my brain. Naturally, I wanted to do the same thing considering I had spent all those years in college and I had student loans to repay.

Since our interests were mutually beneficial — me getting a job ASAP and them working like mad for a finder’s fee — I decided to work with them.

At first, I was skeptical about their efficacy, as well as if it was in my best interests having someone who I didn’t know calling up human resource managers telling them how awesome my skills were and how beneficial of an employee I would be. Hindsight being 20-20, those fears were incredibly unfounded considering a solid headhunter is often viewed as a strategic asset to a hiring manager, and their confidence in a potential “new hire” can be exactly what you need to set you apart from a stack of faceless resumes.

In my case, headhunters helped me land two different positions that I’m quite certain I would never have gotten (much less known about) without their assistance. They were that valuable!

Reasons you should use a headhunter/recruiter

  1. A headhunter’s services are free for job seekers. Most headhunters are paid a percentage of your first year’s annual salary by the company who hires you. You do not pay a single cent.
  2. Recruiters only get paid when you get hired. A recruiter’s number one goal is to get you hired. Until that happens, they don’t get paid. So they will do their very best to educate you, prepare you, and coach you through all aspects of the interview and hiring process.
  3. Minimal time investment on your part. You will only be required to invest a small amount of time to get a headhunter working on your behalf. Perhaps a twenty minute phone conversation to get them acquainted with your skills, relocation preferences, and a general “get to know you” conversation.
  4. Let someone do the leg work for you. Instead of randomly applying to every job posting on, allow someone else to do all of that for you. Headhunters will likely know the human resources managers and/or hiring managers directly, so instead of being another faceless resume in a stack of eager applicants, give the recruiter the chance to sell your skills directly to the people making the hiring decisions. Let them become your cheerleader!
  5. Good recruiters have a ton of industry contacts. If you work with a seasoned recruiter, or one that works within a recruiting agency, they will know dozens (hopefully hundreds) of hiring managers who work within your field. If you don’t get the first position you interviewed for, they will likely have a few more in mind or know of several more that will open up in the future.
  6. Headhunters can get you a higher salary. If you’re lacking in negotiating skills or fearful of asking for more money, a headhunter can be a great middleman. Not only does his paycheck get bigger, but he probably knows exactly how far to push your potential employer in terms of your compensation.
  7. A recruiter can help you improve your interview skills. It’s in a recruiter’s best interest that you get hired, and they will probably know the types of questions you will face in an upcoming interview. Anyone can answer the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question, but they will likely know specific questions your interviewers will ask once you get on site. Think of it like knowing the exam questions prior to taking the exam.
  8. Headhunters have access to unpublished or hidden jobs. There are a few companies who prefer to keep some of their prized job openings out of view to the general public. They do this various reasons, but if you don’t have access to these jobs or know they exist, you certainly can’t interview for them. Having a headhunter with access to these jobs is probably one of the few ways you can get access to these jobs.
  9. Confidentiality can be crucial. In the new world of social media, it’s not a far fetched possibility that your current employer could find out your searching for a new gig if you’ve posted your resume to every jobs board on the web. In a perfect world, your current employer wouldn’t take it as a negative, but it could certainly lead to some awkward moments in the elevator or some animosity down the road. No reason to burn bridges unless absolutely necessary.
  10. Recruiters share information with other recruiters. Some recruiters often trade information for the good of themselves, or for their company. So if one recruiter might not have the perfect job for you, another contact or team member might. Since the first objective is to get you a job, all parties win in the end.

As you can probably guess, I’m highly in favor of using a recruiter to complement your job search regardless if you’re a 20s something college grad or a 20 year industry veteran. Their networking ability and expertise is far too valuable to ignore.

From my own experiences, I received a 15% to 20% salary increase each time I used them and I never went into an interview without being extremely well prepared. They are, in my humble opinion, a must have in any job search.

How about you?  Have you had a similar experience?  Perhaps a horror story?  Please share in the comments section below.

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Posted by CJ   @   26 August 2009 23 comments
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Aug 26, 2009
3:00 pm
#1 Rache :

I’ve used headhunters plenty of times in the past but the two jobs that I’ve had since I’ve graduated (class of ’08) were due to my own hardwork. Headhunters did get me plenty of interviews and I’ve actually developed great working relationships with plenty of them throughout my job search. I guess my head just wasn’t in the right place on the days that I was asked to deliver. Either way, I agree with you completely on the point of headhunters being a resource for your job search, if nothing but to boost your confidence.

Aug 26, 2009
3:23 pm
#2 Matt :

@ Rache,

That’s another two solid reasons to use them: interview experience (regardless if you get the job or not) and developing a lifelong relationship where they will remember you if that “perfect job” comes about.

I occasionally get an email from the first headhunter I ever worked with trying to lure me back into a biotech job. Doubtful I would go back, but it’s always nice to have fallback plans.

Thanks for commenting.

Aug 27, 2009
8:56 pm
#3 Kyle :

I have never personally used a headhunter but I can certainly see the benefits. If it ever behooves me to change jobs I will most likely farm the legwork out a recruiter/headhunter. I hadn’t really thought about the other benefits you listed but I am glad to see you had a positive experience with it.

Aug 28, 2009
12:46 pm
#4 Matt :

Yeah, I’ve been fortunate using their services. I’m not as much of a fan of using job sites these days considering they have become rather spam filled or loaded with with “job search agencies” who actually charge you for their services.

Ideally, a direct referral from a friend/colleague is the best way to get a new job, but using a recruiter (at least in my mind) comes in a close second. Especially if the recruiter has filled a few positions at the company prior to you interviewing. Those kinds of recruiters are worth their weight in gold!

Aug 31, 2009
12:18 pm
#5 Mrs. Micah :

I haven’t used a headhunter, but I’ve used a placement agency and they were helpful on a number of similar things. I don’t know if libraries do headhunters…one of the things I should ask about in grad school. :)

Aug 31, 2009
1:18 pm

As an IT Recruiter by day I can say you are spot on. I don’t get paid unless you get paid. Period. I’m like your agent and you’re the college star trying to decide between Nike, Gatorade, and Buick. I bring you the opportunities, I educate you on the opportunities, and then I help you in any way I can to get the job (including interview coaching as you mentioned).

It’s an interesting job… :)

Aug 31, 2009
2:12 pm
#7 Matt :

@ Mrs. Micah,

Never hurts to ask. I’m unfamiliar with the demand for librarians, but I’ve been recruited for government related positions, so I wouldn’t consider it impossible. Never hurts to look. ;)

Aug 31, 2009
2:20 pm
#8 Matt :

@ No Debt Plan,

Thanks for the confirmation. I actually thought about becoming a Pharma/Biotech recruiter ~5 years ago, but due to the nature of the job (mostly the lack of a stable paycheck), I decided against it.

Seems like a really cool job.

Sep 2, 2009
2:33 pm
#9 bbrian017 :

Wow I never even knew this line of work existed. So if you were a head hunter and you landed someone a nice CEO position in a large company you could make some decent dollars.

Interesting field that’s for sure.

Sep 2, 2009
2:55 pm
#10 Matt :

@ Brian,

Yeah, recruiters are definitely out there making some bank. I knew a guy who made 20% of a new hire’s annual salary, and he placed 14 people with my former employer over a 2 year period.

You’re talking 14 x 0.2($60,000) = nice paycheck.

Now you can see why I nearly took a job in this field. However, that is pre-recession numbers so I’m not sure how well they’ve made out since. I’m sure it’s sector dependent, but since I was working in pharma/biotech, I might have squeaked my way through.

Thanks for commenting!

Sep 18, 2009
12:48 pm
#11 tom :

Good info.

Some questions your post raised:

Do you have any links and info to pass along on who the best / recommended / reputable headhunters are?

How do you determine which headhunter or firm to use?

Much thanks.

Sep 18, 2009
1:59 pm
#12 Matt SF :

@ Tom,

Finding a good headhunter/recruiter can be difficult at first. Since recruiters tend to specialize within their career field, it’s difficult for me to give you a specific referral. I used to work within the biotech/pharmaceutical market, and unless you’re actively searching for a position in that market, they would be of no use to you.

However, to find a headhunter or recruiting firm, I would suggest you do a Google search with the words “headhunter” or “recruiter” plus “your industry”. For example, I would search for “biotech headhunter” or “pharmaceutical recruiter”. If I wanted to get more specific, I would search for “biotechnology process engineer headhunter” and see what turns up.

That should locate a few recruiting firms that have website with their current openings. Once located, drop them a quick email stating your intentions, contact info, and of course, a copy of your resume. The more “feelers” you put out there, the greater your chances. At one point, I probably had 5 or 6 solid biotech recruiters working for me, and sending me an equivalent number of jobs to screen each week. So it pays to be patient, but also to network as much as you can.

Alternatively, you could also do a passive job search and post your resume/C.V. to a jobs board like Depending on how good of a candidate you are “on paper”, the faster you receive emails from headhunters or employers (some companies will bypass headhunters completely). I personally can’t stand the so called “job placement” firms who will spam you (or call you) with promises of finding you a job for a fee of $100 to $1000. Don’t buy into it because a recruiter is paid by your future employer… not by you.

I chose the passive job search because I had the luxury of time. But remember, the better your bait (your resume), the more fish you will catch.

Something else you could try is reach out to Kevin at the No Debt Plan blog. He is an IT recruiter, so he might know an industry specific recruiter for your field and can pass along your resume to the right people.

Hope that helps!

Nov 19, 2009
11:30 pm
#13 sea1mav :

My husband has been looking for a job for about 6 months and has I think 6 head hunters that he is working with. He has had a few phone interviews from applications he has done himself online. He has been told he is very marketable and has good job skills.

This week he was approached by a recruiter that charges you a fee to help you with your resumes/cover letter/ and interview techniques. They “promise” to get you atleast 5 face to face interviews a week and he said he has 7 out of 10 of his clients that get atleast one to 3 job offers in the first month or two…

I knew when he was laid off with half the work force at his company that it would be a long haul because of the economic climate and I know of many others that have been struggling longer for a new job. Praise the Lord we are doing ok and are not desperate or going to loose our house anytime soon, ….but he is bored stiff sitting here at home and would love to get back to work and do something….

My question is has anyone ever worked with a company such as this that “swears” they can get you a job because they care and have more invested in you because they are working for companies that do not put adds in the paper/ craigslist/ or other job search areas, but only go through private companies such as these guys to avoid 100’s of applicants? You just have to pay them 1/2 the fee up front and then the rest in monthly payments for one year and you have access to their resources for the full year?

My first thought is they are playing on someone’s desperate desire to get a job and let me tell you, after my conversation with him he is a smooth talker and I told him he talks a good game!

Thanks for any suggestions pro’s or con’s on this matter….

Nov 20, 2009
12:13 am
#14 Matt SF :

@ sea1mav

Sounds pretty fishy to me. I’ve heard of fee based resume writing services that focus on industry keywords (e.g. getting a resume/CV more attention from search engines) but never one that came out with such bold guarantees and creating a payment plan.

I don’t want to come out and say it’s a scam, but as long as your husband has an average looking resume, I’m not so sure you need their services. If his resume is sub par, then yes, you probably need some help… but I’m betting that you can write a B+ resume for free with a little hard work.

If he has to write a more detailed resume, like a Curriculum Vitae (CV), then the process could be more complicated since a CV requires more detail. I’ve seen CVs in the 2 to 5 page range covering the types of projects the applicant has worked upon, their outcomes, required skills, description of work to obtain advanced degrees (MS, PhD, MD/PhD), etc.

It takes more work, but on the positive side, he may even get more search engine love with the CV over the resume. The more text they have to search, the better chances he has of being found.

If you have any other questions, just ask. If not, then best of luck to you two!

Jul 29, 2010
1:01 am
#15 Ramya C :

I am looking for a non-research based position in Biotech/Pharma, namely in marketing/product management. Could you recommend a few recruiters I could use? Thanks a lot!

Jan 4, 2012
5:25 pm
#16 Paul M :

I agree with what you said. But not all recruiters are created equal. There is one recruiter I work with that really knows what type of work I am looking for and will only submit me if he feels comfortable. He is great at giving feedback and resume advice. It’s like having a job coach. But then there is another who gives me zero insight into the company, only asks if she can submit my name. I think she is hurting me more than helping me, as I could do the same thing myself and present myself better in my opinion. When I write her with questions, I get no response. She has submitted me for two and I have no intention of letting her do another.

So as many people probably pointed out: If they are not going to understand who you are and what you want, don’t even bother.

Mar 1, 2014
12:06 pm
#17 bee :

Great article! I’m exactly in this dilemma of deciding whether to try it or not. Your opinions helped a lot. Thanks so much! :)))

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