Finding Job-Hunting Help with Recruiters and Agencies

When you're searching for a job, you might consider getting some help from recruiters (headhunters) or employment agencies. Headhunters and employment agencies aren't right for everyone's job search, and you probably don't need both.

If you're hunting for a job for which you have previous experience, consider contacting recruiters. Don't consider a recruiter who asks you for money — the employer should pay the fee. To find appropriate recruiters, call the human resources department of a target employer and say, "I'm looking to submit my resume to a recruiter for a (insert type of job) position. When you use a recruiter to find that type of employee, who do you use?" You may also consult a searchable online directory of recruiters, like the one from SearchFirm.com.

If you're looking for an entry-level position or are changing careers, forget about headhunters. You may, however, contact a few employment agencies. The difference between agencies and headhunters is that agencies generally focus on lower-level positions, especially temporary ones. Look in your Yellow Pages to find on-target agencies. Again, if an agency asks you for money, hang up. The employer should pay the agency.

Unlike cover letters you send to possible employers, when writing to an employment agency or headhunter, include your salary requirement. State it as a range, such as "$58,000 to $68,000, depending on the nature of the position."

Also tell the agency or headhunter that you don't want your resume sent to an employer without your permission. Otherwise, the recruiter could blast your resume to ten zillion employers and demand a hefty commission from the one who hires you. That could add $20,000 to the employer's cost of hiring you. That's often enough to make the employer move on to another candidate.

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