When many of us think of recruiters, we cringe. Ugh! Headhunters! And (often) rightfully so. I’ve been “headhunted” by plenty of placement professionals who were playing a numbers game and just casting out far and wide to see if they could find a “fit” that worked — for them and their commission. They didn’t really know me, they didn’t know my situation, they didn’t actually care whether the job worked for me, or not. To them, I was just a number. A faceless, mindless body to plug into a position that some company asked them to fill.
I’m sure you’ve received emails or voicemails from them in the past, or someone contacts you about a position that they say would be “a really great fit for you”, based on your resume that they found in their database. The emails look like they’ve been generated from a back-end system. And if they leave a voicemail for you, their speech sounds “canned”, or they sound like they’re reading from the script. In some cases, it’s possible that they actually are reading from a script, and they’re just following up to automated messages that were sent out from their applicant tracking system into the ethers, hoping for a direct hit, somewhere, somehow.
But you can’t really generalize about recruiters. They come in various types, and they have different specialties. Some specialize in permanent placements in pharma. Others focus on contract positions in software engineering. Others specialize in temp gigs for administrative assistants. They also have different styles, and that makes the recruiters really stand out from headhunters.
A “Recruiter”, by my definition, is a staffing placement professional who knows the people game. Recruiters get to know people so they can make the best match for an opportunity and build relationships and reputation with their clients and candidates.
A “headhunter”, on the other hand, is a few steps above a spammer, who plays a numbers game. They’re looking to make their numbers, just fill open slots. They don’t care who I am or what I want to do with my life. They just want to collect a commission. And they tend to use automation, sending out email blasts to a vast number of people who had the misfortune of getting their resume into their database.
Email automation has been both a benefit and a bane of our existence, adding to the glut of random, untargeted messages that crowd our inboxes. It’s shaped our lives in so many ways, even necessitating legislation like spam regulations to stem the tide. And this automation has a way of turning even a well-intentioned recruiter into little more than a headhunter.
The challenge, as a present or potential job seeker (or just somebody who needs to keep their career on track), is to thin the crowd, separating the recruiters from the headhunters. We need a way to run interference in this increasingly automated job market, and qualify or disqualify people who are contacting us.
Unfortunately, we can’t exactly follow up with every single person who reaches out to us. We also can’t personally respond to every opportunity, when we’re neck-deep in work. But we can put systems in place to run that interference for us, and intercept the borderline “here’s a great job for you!” spammers before they get to us.
And that’s exactly what I know how to do. I’ve been using my system for years, actually, and it works like a charm. It inserts a layer between me and headhunters and redirects the endless swarm of job opportunity notifications and queries to a place where they can be managed, controlled, and responded to in my own sweet time.
It’s not difficult to do. It’s also made up of tools we use every single day — all of them free. But the benefits are awesome.
More to come…