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Old 01-14-2013, 03:26 PM
jayrey jayrey is online now
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What can you tell me about using an employment headhunter to find a new job?

I think the time has come for me to explore finding another job. I like my current job, but I've gone as far up this particular ladder as I can. The only way up from here is if I go to law school which, at the age of 56, I ain't gonna do. A couple of different friends have suggested contacting a headhunter and letting them market me. I know nothing about headhunters. Anyone have any advice or war stories they'd like to share? Thanks.

P.S. I'm a paralegal for the state's appellate court system, specializing in court administration. I'd probably be looking for a managment position in a law firm.
Old 01-14-2013, 03:32 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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I've done it. But, remember this basic rule:


Don't let anyone trick you into paying to market you. Instead, contact them, then let them have a resume and some idea of where you want to go. Remember, they get paid by the hiring firm, sometimes as much as one year's salary per placement. So leave your checkbook at home and give them the opportunity to make money off your need to move on.
Old 01-14-2013, 03:46 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Correct. You never ever pay one. I have worked with dozens or maybe hundreds throughout the years and even gotten a job through a few. However, as a general rule, 95% of headhunters are basically scum of the earth. They make personal injury lawyers and used car salesman look like saints in comparison.

There are a few good ones but you have to work hard to find them. Don't commit to working with just one of them. That is in nobody's interest but theirs and feel free to drop any that you don't feel comfortable working with. Do not give any of them permission to send your resume to specific companies without your approval for each and every one of them. Headhunters can really screw you up this way especially if you work in a niche industry. You may have two renegades that submit you for the same job. That is a huge issue because the companies know it will create a payment conflict if they hire you so they usually won't consider you at all.

After you follow those rules, be prepared to be lied to like you never have been before. They get paid by the company so they will probably present several candidates for each position and lie to all of them about their prospects so that they will have backups if one falls through.
Old 01-14-2013, 05:42 PM
phreesh phreesh is online now
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I've been contacted by headhunters and found them to be professional and smart, but if I was looking for a job, I'd try more conventional means first. Job aggregators like Monster and Indeed are very good at showing jobs and the indvidual firms are usually very good these days at putting openings up on their websites.

I also encourage you to arrange meetings with law firms to talk about what the position you're looking at entails and what they look for in applicants when they have openings. Look for people with similar jobs and tell them that they have your dream job and you'd like to know more. You'd be surprised how accomodating people can be when you tell them that you want to speak with them about their career.

Best of luck!
Old 01-14-2013, 06:30 PM
SweetiePotato SweetiePotato is offline
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I dated a headhunter for a while. The good ones are hard to find. The bad ones will take your resume and throw it at every major company first, even if there is no open position suitable for you-- then, if you apply for a job down the road and your name is in their databanks, that headhunter can claim responsibility for introducing you and possibly collect a fee for doing absolutely nothing. Be aware that one bad headhunter will pepper the town with your resume, and that will make it harder for good headhunters with real connections to do their job.

Yes, headhunters are paid by the companies, which means they have a big financial incentive to get you hired. Sometimes they will try to talk you into applying to/accepting positions that you don't necessarily want, but are the best "fit" for your skills and experience.

That being said, good headhunters in your industry will be able to tell you what the market is like, who has been hired recently and where, how much they are making, and how much your skills/experience can garner.

I'd look into headhunters like looking into anything else. See if any of your colleagues have recommendations or referrals. Don't find one by googling on the internet.
Old 01-14-2013, 07:11 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Definitely don't pay for the service! I went to an interview with one guy, and he wanted $3,000 up front -- and the contract didn't have a "success only" clause! It only specified that he would make a determined effort to find me a job!

He could have gone out in the parking lot, shouted, "So hire this guy already!" and it would have fulfilled the contract!

Pure stinking rip-off, and I had nothing further to do with him. I was courageous! I was resolute! I slipped out the back and didn't return his phone calls.

ETA: I've used responsible temp agencies, like Kelly, and gotten decent temp jobs that way. Nothing permanent yet, darn it...

Last edited by Trinopus; 01-14-2013 at 07:11 PM.
Old 01-14-2013, 07:18 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I've worked with headhunters from both sides, and while some are as bad as Shagnasty described, a few are merely just pains in the ass.

Typically, they are paid by the company who is doing the hiring. Often, but not always on a contingency basis. They will send a number of resumes they think would be a good fit and the hiring manager would set up an interview with the candidates he likes. Honestly, if you put your resume on the usual job sites, they will typicaly call you if you fill some particular need. None of them are going to take your resume and do your job search for you.

I don't know that I would worry so much about headhunters blasting your resume around. Headhunters typically have to sign a contract with the company doing the hiring. If a headhunter just sends an unsolicitied resume, what's to stop me from just bringing the candidate in myself and say I found it on last week?

That said, some headhunters are scumbags. I had a headhunter pull that unsolicited submittal crap with me. They sent my resume to a company that had hired me on their own and tried to collect a fee. The company hired me anyway.

More recently, I received a job offer through a headhunter who had contacted me. But due to a "misunderstanding" the offer was $10k less than what we had discussed. I wouldn't take the job for a penny less than what we discussed and he had to eat the difference. The company never worked with him again.
Old 01-15-2013, 01:56 PM
jayrey jayrey is online now
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My sincere thanks to all who replied. I REALLY appreciate the information about the hiring firm paying the headhunter and not the applicant. I had no idea and was wondering how much this might cost me.

I'm going to rethink this. I'm think I'd be better off to polish up my resume and try the on-line job sites first. I also know a lot of people in the legal field here. A little networking could help, too.

Thanks, again.
Old 01-15-2013, 06:21 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by jayrey View Post
I'm going to rethink this. I'm think I'd be better off to polish up my resume and try the on-line job sites first. I also know a lot of people in the legal field here. A little networking could help, too.
I think that is a better place to start. Headhunters don't generally take a potential candidate and help them personally through the job seeking process. They usually just have some positions that they have been contracted to potentially fill no matter who they can put there and you can find most of those same jobs on your own through job boards and networking. I only work with headhunters if I have to (if they contact me for something I didn't know about already) and it works sometimes but it is better all around to keep them out of it. Brush up on interviewing skills, polish your resume, look at job boards, and get to networking.

I don't know anything about legal industry job boards but you do need to have a good profile just like any professional days does if you don't already have one. That can help with your networking a great deal.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-15-2013 at 06:26 PM.
Old 01-15-2013, 06:40 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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I used one that got me two jobs. I tried the resume/interview route for six months without success, then signed on with this place and landed a job two months later. The next one through them only took two weeks. No money out of my pocket, and I was free to do my own job searching as well.
Old 01-15-2013, 08:50 PM
Win Place Show Win Place Show is offline
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My opinion pretty much reflects word-for-word what Shagnasty wrote upthread.

The best bit of advice I can give you that hasn't been mentioned already - is to consider getting a "throwaway" no-contract phone and phone number, like maybe one of these for $20 or less.

Because once you get in these people's databases, they will hound you for years. I can't tell you how many of them I still have call me, that I have never worked with, and that I never would work with (due to the same "sleazy car salesman vibe" discussed earlier).
Old 01-16-2013, 11:08 AM
jayrey jayrey is online now
Former Dressage Queen
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: In the barn
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Excellent advice. Thanks, Shagnasty and Win Place Show especially. Hadn't thought about LinkedIn -- I have no online presence to speak of and realize, now that you mention it, that it is important in a job search. The disposable phone number is brilliant. Yes, I can see them hounding me forever. I still get calls occasionally from the car salesman I bought my last car from. That was three years ago. Thanks!

Last edited by jayrey; 01-16-2013 at 11:09 AM.
Old 01-16-2013, 03:14 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Nick Corcodilos has a blog/website which I recommend. I have no interest in it, and I've never used him, though I do post on the blog sometimes. He is a very opinionated headhunter who hates the rip off artists and job sites. He recommends researching like hell and getting personal contacts inside interesting companies.
I've gotten one job through a headhunter who contacted me during a search, and he worked his ass off for me. Headhunters, as I understand it, try to fill openings from their clients, and also try to build up a stock of potential candidates. If you contact one, you might do fine if you are a match, but will just wait if there isn't an opening which suits.
We never use headhunters for our pretty highly paid engineering jobs. We depend on referrals and people who apply on our web site, though the hit rate on these is pretty low. Anyone who does more then just submit a resume (and who is a good match) jumps the line.
Are there meetings for paralegals? (I know there are for lawyers.) If so, go to some and look for contacts. See if you know somebody who knows somebody at another law office. You should use other approaches also, but try this one.
You never can tell. I got my current jobs because my neighbor was good friends with an HR guy who had a hiring director who was looking for someone just like me. And I helped a manager here define a job - and the spec was on my screen when a guy who I was on a committee with called looking to see if we had an opening. He was a perfect match, and we hired him.

BTW, we have a friend who is a headhunter, and she definitely works for hiring companies - though when she thinks she has a good match, she works really hard at getting the person placed.


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