When a Headhunter Makes His Profession Look Bad

Jane (all names have been changed) wasn’t looking for a job when a headhunter contacted her about an unnamed position. She’d been at her job for over five years and was thinking about moving on, so she was interested to talk. To her surprise, a couple of hours later a second recruiter contacted her! When it rains, it pours.

Taking this as a sign that it was time to move on Jane set up phone interviews with both. The first conversation with Bob went well. The job seemed exciting and right in her specialty. Then she met with the second headhunter, Steve, and found out that  Bob and Steve were pitching the same position. Steve seemed to have a better relationship with the company and told her he could set up an interview right away.

Headhunters, like Bob and Steve, are paid when they place someone in the position. They aren’t like in-house recruiters who receive a salary. And whichever headhunter presented Jane would be the one to receive the pay–if she got the job.

To keep reading, click here: When a Headhunter Makes His Profession Look Bad

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7 thoughts on “When a Headhunter Makes His Profession Look Bad

  1. I agree that companies need to vet better – and understand how the headhunting process at a particular firm works. Were I the candidate in this situation, all I’d be seeing are red flags about the prospective employer. Like is the position so undesirble that they open the floodgates and get as many recruiters on it as possible to throw darts at candidates to see where they stick?

  2. I have a bad taste impression of all headhunter recruiters, starting with the fact of their percent % cut of your first year of salary, so this situation takes the cake. I am at the present time, retired for working full time and not active in the workforce. So when a headhunter approaches me via my Linkedin account, I view their contact with a jaded eye, especially since I am not looking for work. If I wanted to hire a headhunter to make a job search for me, I expect them to know my skills and preference before putting out a search.
    As far as this company that needed multiple recruiters to get applicants, that job was either a highly skilled job or the company has a high turnover rate in employees. Headhunters don’t inform applicants of these facts, so the applicant needs to do their due diligence and be ready to accept the terms of the job offer.

    1. My first and worst experience with a headhunter made me leery for over a decade! I found a job through a headhunter in a nearby city (less than 45 minute drive from my then-current job and domicile). The hiring manager liked me for the job, I liked the opportunity.

      Then the hiring manager called me up directly to offer the job. Only the proffered salary was less than I was already making.

      Excuse me? I said.

      Well, he explained, the fee for the headhunter is pretty steep. It’s a percentage of your salary for the first year. We’d like to start you low, and in a year we promise to raise your salary enough to make it worthwhile.

      It felt wrong on so many levels: bad for me, bad for the headhunter, and probably unethical.

      I just declined, saying I couldn’t reduce my income and dramatically increase my commuting costs.

      And that was the end of it, I thought.
      The next day, the headhunter called me up: You turned down the offer! he exclaimed.

      Yes, it was lower than my current salary, I started to say, and he interrupted.

      It’s a great job! A great company! You’re not thinking of the future! And of my reputation with the company… the headhunter just exploded. I don’t recall how the call ended, but it was ugly and one-sided.

      I promised myself I’d never work with another headhunter. Years later I realized that the headhunter was like some (not all) real estate or other “middle man” brokers. Higher selling prices or salaries are better, but getting any sale is better than no sale. Caveat venditor: Middle men are not always working in your best interest.

    2. You’re assuming that the company actually hired Bob, rather than him horning his way in by being aggressive enough that nobody told him to buzz off.

      But I’m wondering if there is such a thing as a *good* headhunter story. Has anybody ever heard about one that was ethical, honest, competent, and that both company and applicant had good things to say about afterwards? They must exist, but I’ve never heard one.

      1. I’ve worked with at least two headhunters I’d rely on again. The most recent has a strong relationship (many placements) with several local firms, including the one that hired me last year. That headhunter only accepted me as a candidate because I’d been vouched for by one of his long-term placements at my prior employer (that employer was relocating, so that employees unwilling to relocate –like me– were discharged with 60-day advance notice). The headhunter takes all his placements to lunch every 3 months, and works to maintain a relationship with everyone. I’d go through or recommend him again.

  3. Evil HR Lady,

    Please forward to INC a message from me.

    I wanted to read your article at INC. But, I was interrupted by TWO autoplay ads. I had to look around far down the page to turn them off.

    INC has no Contact link, so I can’t complain to them.
    INC’s Help link at page bottom is broken.
    INC’s Search link looks only for articles.

    That is a shoddy site design and operation. I will not likely read more articles at INC.

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