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EP 1644 What do you think someone should do?

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I received a question from someone. The short version is, “Should you only be working with one headhunter/recruiter. I'm not sure what to do. What are the do's and don'ts?”

I want to start by saying if you work in a town where it's very small and you want to work in that town, that one recruiter may have all the contacts that are relevant. However, the likelihood of that is very small. Let me use an example.

You are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. You are in Des Moines. Peoria. Skokie. These are reasonably sized cities, right, and you want to find a job. So, let me start by saying the recruiter is not going to have access to every job and that town. However, what they are trying to do is to control you so that they can place you or have the potential of placing you in a job and, thus, earn a fee.

That is a conflicting priority to yours. Your priority is to get a job; their priority is to collect a fee. They only collect a fee if you take the job through them. If you take a job through someone else because, you aren’t working with a headhunter; you are working with a contingency recruiter. As such, they want to collect a fee and they’re going to try to manipulate you (I’m going to say it that way because you seem to be relatively inexperienced with the question that you’ve posed because you spoke about confusion do’s and don’ts . . . stuff almost those lines that suggest you are a relative beginner).

So, as a relative beginner, your interest is getting a job, right? And their interest is collecting a fee. They don't have access to every job in this town or city. They have access to a finite number of jobs and they want it to go to their clients. So, if their client i or clients isn’t interested in hiring you, they’re sitting home, playing on their phone all day, wondering when you get a phone call. Another recruiter may have some of the same jobs, but they may have some different ones, as well and another one after that and another one after that and another one after that.

Your job is to be out there networking because, here's the statistic I keep quoting. Job boards fill 6% of all positions; recruiters fill 20 - 22% of positions. I combined those numbers and round them up. 30% of all jobs are filled by job boards and recruiters. 70 percent are filled as a result of networking and of that networking is 49% of people who find work find work as a result of introductions to people that their network introduces them to, that their network knows who they don't. So, it's not your friend or your relationship who helps you get the job directly. It's who they know who you don’t. That is half of all jobs.

Working with one recruiter takes that down to a microscopic few options. Speaking for myself, when I did recruiting, I was very successful. I worked very closely with a few firms. Let’s say, five. My office handled a bunch of others. We had a 25 person office. If everyone in that office operated like me, you do the math about how many clients we had in New York and around the country. After all, we did national work and we knew if our relationships were intense and of great quality with one organization, we could make a lot of money. But, if you didn't fit those requirements, you were useless to us.

Imagine if we said to you, “We are the only recruiter. We are the only search firm that should represent you. No one else.” You would be out of work, right? That’s because we would only have 125 potential clients to introduce you to. Each might have a lot of different jobs but still 500 jobs… 600 jobs out on and entire country?

So, no, don't work with only one recruiter. It doesn't necessarily serve your interests. It serves their interest.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1600 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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