Once, I hated headhunters (8 reasons why)

  • Reading time:8 mins read

SorryIf you think that recruiters help you find a job, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this.

Executive search firms and recruitment companies find candidates for jobs – they do not find jobs for candidates.

And please, don’t shoot the messenger for telling you.

When you call or email a recruiter and ask if they can help you find a job, they can only do so if one of their clients has a job opening that matches your experience and skill set. Recruiters must be focused on their clients’ needs. That is how the business works.

I do apologize if  I  am just stating the obvious, but trust me, most people have no clue about how executive search firms work.  And why should they? 

Once upon a time, I was an ordinary candidate who experienced almost every job search faux pas in the book.

You can imagine the surprise and increased frustration that grew inside me,  when  I was on the other side of the table (over 20 years ago and before joining the world of executive search).

No headhunter wanted to talk to me when  I  called,  they didn’t return telephone calls when I left messages with an assistant or on voice mail, nobody bothered to answer emails either. Aaarrrgghhh.

Nowadays, anyone can get into the Thai recruitment business. Every Tom, Dick and Harry call themselves a headhunter, even all they do is shopping on the internet and in their database.

It is the kind of small agencies that invite you to a hotel lobby or cafe because they operate from home or small office space. Oh well.

It’s annoying to say, but professional and experienced recruiters are competing with recruiters who should not even be in the business.

Hang-up reason 1: Professional recruiters say their name

Calling YouIf the person calling you does not clearly introduce him/herself, with name and company, listen to the alarm bells.

It typically sounds like this: “I’m calling from Blue Sky Recruitment Company; are you looking for a job”.

Hang-up because real recruiters are not afraid of immediately introducing themselves by name and company.

Hang-up reason 2: Rude and aggressive recruiter

You may be spammed, or you may be just a number that some lazy junior recruiter found on LinkedIn.

Perhaps someone who must get your resume to make the KPI for registered resumes in their database.

Hang-up reason 3: Perhaps there is a job – perhaps not!

Looking for jobIf the recruiter is not able to present the details of a real job opening, department size, reporting structure, or not able to talk about their client’s industry, the client’s nationality, staff size, location etc., then hang-up because a professional recruiter will have no problem providing you with this information.

Hang-up reason 4: Protect your resume as it was your ID card

If the recruiter is asking for your resume or CV before you are sure who is calling, and I mean the caller’s name and company, their website and email.

If the caller asks for your resume before presenting details of a job opportunity, and by the way a job that appears attractive to your future career.

Trust me; many recruiters calling you may not even have a real job or client on hand. The call is merely to pretend, so they can get your resume and perhaps names of your friends and colleagues.

Hang-up because the recruiter may not have anything but is simply trying to reach the daily target for new resumes. There is and has never been a job opportunity for you. You are just a part of a number’s game.

Hang-up reason 5: Why should I consider your client’s job?

HiringIf the recruiter calling you cannot answer that question, why you should consider their client’s job opportunity, don’t waste your time on an amateur.

If you are in the mood, tell them to prepare better and call you back again. Or just hang-up because real professionals can define and present their client’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) with the snap of a finger.

They can tell you about the real needs and clarify job expectations. They can answer questions like why someone would come and work for their client, why people come to work at the client’s company and why they stay.

Hang-up reason 6: What about your LinkedIn profile?

If the recruiter is asking if you have a LinkedIn profile (and assuming you have one).

Hang-up because it’s part of the recruiter’s background check to see if you are on LinkedIn, Facebook or the internet in some form before calling.

Hang-up reason 7: Meeting at Starbucks for the interview

Thumbs downIf the recruiter suggests meeting you at the coffee shop or in the hotel lobby, that should start alarm bells ringing in your head. Hang-up because the person may operate a shoe-string recruitment business from their own bedroom or from an office far away from the central business district.

Believe me, you don’t want to sit in a public space and share your career and personal details. Ask for more details about the caller, the company, website and address. And by the way, I love Starbucks but for coffee and not for interviewing candidates.

Hang-up reason 8: What is your salary?

Junior recruiters are often the first people to get in touch with you. They have a form from their manager to fill in for further vetting. One of these boxes would be to get your compensation details to check if you are too cheap or too expensive for whatever job they have on hand.

Hang-up because a professional headhunter will never start a conversation about your career in that manner.

And you are welcome to ask what kind of budget their client gave them. Yes, clients do.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.