Guide to IT Headhunters, Part Two

A veteran IT headhunter talks about how to work with job recruiters, including what degree of personal attention you can expect.
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As noted in Part One of this article, today’s improved tech hiring has brought a resurgence of IT headhunters.

These job recruiters know that in the great tug of war between tech workers and tech employers, workers now hold the upper hand – qualified staffers are in great demand these days.

“After three years of being crushed, it’s ‘workers unite,’” says Stuart Taylor, a veteran headhunter and co-founder of Integrated Search Services, an IT staffing organization.

He estimates that in the tech boom of the late ‘90s, about 30 percent of workers changed jobs with the help of a headhunter. Yet this number fell sharply with the tech crash. “But now it’s way back up again,” he says, “Because the employers are finding it difficult to find people, and they’re hiring firms to find them.”

Using the services of an IT headhunter can help land a hefty raise. But before an IT pro contracts with a job recruiter, they should know the recruiting industry’s ground rules.

Communicate Clearly

Some tech workers feel stand-offish about headhunters because they’re afraid the job specialist will cajole them into a job they don’t really want. But these fears are unfounded, Taylor tells Datamation.

Simply put, if you don’t want the job, don’t take it.

“The only secret to using a headhunter is to clearly communicate what you’re attempting to accomplish,” he says.

“The most common complaint I hear – and it’s an amazing complaint – is: ‘You know, the guy who placed me the last three times never seemed to listen to me.” In response to this complaint, Taylor wonders: “Then why did you get placed for the last three times?” If the job choices the recruiter matched you with didn’t seem right, why did you take them?

Moreover, that headhunter “apparently provided some service, and eventually he got it right. So maybe it’s like real estate. All he did was show you a bunch of houses in a price range and you bought one.”

It’s up to the worker to speak his mind – forcefully if need be – to the recruiter, to avoid being directed toward inappropriate opportunities.

“You should always remember that someone in that role [a headhunter] has a [financial] interest in mind,” Taylor says. They get paid if they place you, so they want to place you even if it’s not your dream job.

The point: “If you want something more than ‘houses and prices’ then you need to communicate what your specific objectives are.”

“Not the Brightest People”

“It should be noted that recruiters are not the brightest people on the planet,” Taylor says.

For instance, they often don’t use sophisticated organizational techniques. “So if you apply to a recruiter and they never call you back, and then a position pops up in a newspaper that you fit, reapply. Because they will not put you in a database, they will not actively keyword search to see if you’re still there, they’ll just forget about you.”

Therefore, making repeated contacts with the same recruiters is okay. You’re not pestering them – they’ll probably even welcome it if you’re qualified.

Recruiters are working on commission, usually with specific assignments. “So if you don’t fit one of those specific assignments, they’re not interested in you at all.” In this case, simply submit your resume to another recruiter.

Next page: Think Nationally, Act Locally

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