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How To Get The Most Out of Head Hunters


How to Select a Head Hunter (Professional Recruiter)

Many people ask how they should go about selecting a professional recruiter (otherwise known as a headhunter). They frequently ask if we can recommend a few good recruiters that specialize in a particular field.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Recruiters select you. You don't select them. Understanding this will allow you to get the most out of recruiters.

The process you will want to apply when utilizing recruiters is opposite the process a company uses when they use recruiters. A company may use one or two trusted recruiters when they do a search. On the other hand you will have to use a large number of recruiters (>500) that you probably know very little about.

That's probably not what you wanted to hear.

Before you contact recruiters, you must know what type of work it is that you are looking for. If you are not sure about your career direction, we offer career testing and career counseling which can be done over the phone or Skype, from anywhere in the world.

When you look for a recruiter, unless you are paying him or her out of your own pocket, or unless you are an extremely hot property, no single recruiter can afford to focus on you. The best you can hope for is to get into their database, their filing system, or better yet into their minds.

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Since you don't know which positions a recruiter might be trying to fill, and which companies a recruiter is working for, you need to contact a large volume of recruiters in hopes of finding one that has an interesting position, in your area of expertise, and at an interesting company.

By now you should realize that having a recruiter or two working for you, is an illusion. It just doesn't work that way.

This is what does work:

Quick Recipe for Success

  1. Compile a list of 500 or more recruiting firms based on your particular need
  2. Perform a mass emailing of your resume and cover letter to these firms
  3. Hope you get into their data base whether it be computerized or not
  4. Wait for calls - expect calls to start within a few weeks and to run for months
  5. Sort and save the rejection notices into two piles. Those that claim to not handle your field, and those that do but don't have any present opportunities.
  6. Expect only a very small percentage of recruiters to show an interest. One out of 25 is considered good. Hopefully you will have more. It depends on supply and demand.
  7. If a recruiter calls they may want to do a "get to know you" interview on the phone. Be prepared to market yourself. See our web site for tips on marketing yourself.
  8. Keep in touch with the recruiters that did call. Check with them frequently, just so that you maintain a position in their minds.
  9. Ask all of the people you know in your industry, what headhunters they like to use. Get their email addresses and and phone numbers and contact them as well.

How To Do A Mass Emailing?

First you need a list of recruiting firms.

In the old days, you would buy a list and just for grins, I've left that information below.

But today, you can use resume blasting services.

Here is the old way:

You can purchase a listing of recruiting firms from a number of places and there may be free sources on the Internet. We suggest:

The Directory of Executive Recruiters + CD

By Kennedy Information
Phone: 800-531-0007

This book, which costs about $45, contains over 4000 recruiters sorted by location, specialty, industry etc. It comes with a CD that contains the same information as the book. The CD allows you to easily sort and use the email addresses of recruiting firms. It requires a password that can be purchased over the phone for an additional charge of approximately $150. This is expensive, but it will save you hours of re-typing addresses onto mailing labels.

CareerPlanner.com is not affiliated with this book nor the publishers. We just think it's one of the fastest ways to do mass mailing of resumes.

Remember that you should send out at least 500 resumes.

Contingency VS Retained

First decide whether to use contingency recruiters or retained recruiters. This varies depending on the economy. During boom times recruiters can afford to be selective and the following rule applies:

If your salary is over $100K send resumes to retained recruiters first. If your salary is less than $100K use contingency recruiters.

What is the difference? Companies filling top positions will usually pay a recruiting firm a retainer fee so they can afford to focus on a particular position. Thus searches for higher paying positions usually go to retained recruiting firms.

For lower paying positions, a company might use a number of contingency recruiting firms, none of which have an exclusive on filling the position. In this case whichever recruiter brings in the best candidate first gets paid. Everyone else loses. There are also recruiters who, when they find an interesting resume will mail it to several companies hoping to get lucky. These are contingency search firms.

Some companies operate as both contingency and retained. During slow economic times, many recruiting firms will take any business they can get. Sure they would prefer the "cash up front" that a retained position provides, but during tough times, they will go after what looks like their best bet to close a deal quickly.

Select A Location

You can select recruiting firms by their location, however this is mis-leading. A search firm in New Jersey might know of a position in San Diego. Why? The San Diego company may have a parent company in New Jersey, or, the recruiting firm may have done a good job for someone in the San Diego company.

Recruiting usually transcends geographic boundaries. However, if you have a specific location where you want to live, i.e. perhaps where you now live, then start with local recruiters, but don't stop there. Your initial mailing should include both local and remote recruiters.

Finally, the larger recruiting firms have headquarters in major East and West Coast cities. You will want to send a resume to both the head quarters and the local branch.

Select A Specialty

You should select recruiting firms based on the fields they specialize in. The Kennedy book mentioned above allows you to select by industry and to some extent by career field. When you look up a recruiter in the Kennedy book you will get a feel for whether they might cover your type of work. When in doubt put them on your mailing list. Worst case they will mail you a post card stating they don't cover your field.


Remember your goal is to make yourself known to as many recruiters as possible. You do this through mass emailing. The more resumes you send, the better chance you have of finding a recruiter who is doing a search for someone just like you.

After you email your resumes, be prepared for the recruiters to call. You will have to make a good impression within the first minute or two. If you do a good job in the first few minutes they may want to conduct a longer phone interview. If you get past that stage they will either want to meet you in person, or they will line up an interview with the employer. Worst case they will make a few notes and put you in their database. See our web site for tips on marketing yourself.

You should take the initiative to stay in touch with the few recruiters that do call you. Call them every few weeks to remind them of who you are. Market yourself by positioning your name and your career plan in their minds.

Once again, if you don't know what you want to do for a living, and you are looking for a better career, contact CareerPlanner.com for a quick insight into which careers match your interests and abilities. Check out the Career Test.

Whatever you choose to do, we at CareerPlanner.com wish you the best career possible.




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