Expert tips for working with headhunters

If you haven't yet, quit the ranks of job hunters who think that headhunters work for them. Headhunters work for the hiring company.

Your own professional network is the best means to new employment, in spite of whatever information you may come across. Even if that network is largely populated by the unemployed, it's still the source you should farm the most. If you haven't got much of a professional network, get started now. These are troubled times for pharma manufacturing professionals.

If you will be working with recruiters, treat them as if they are employers, says job-hunter Internet site, the sideline of an executive recruiter. And be aware that there are two kinds: retained and contingency. One will work better for you, depending on the position you seek.

Retained search agents act as consultants to the hiring company. Their fee is usually about one-third of your salary, even if they don't succeed. They work on the high-end positions--those with salaries of $100,000 and up. These recruiters may handle a dozen searches per year, all having specific requirements. If you don't match, these recruiters "won't give you the time of day," according to the site.

The contingent search agent, by contrast, gets paid only when the client makes a hire. These headhunters charge a fee of 15 percent to 33 percent of the candidate's earnings. Most jobs that contingent headhunters fill are for positions offering salaries of less than $100,000.

Contingent headhunters want to get you hired. They will frequently submit your resume to more than one employer, something retained headhunters will not do. They want to fill a particular position.

When you use a contingent headhunter, beware of the paper-pushers. Most are not, but there are an unscrupulous few. These headhunters carelessly send resumes, and do little to maintain their own businesses. In one case, such a headhunter succeeded in connecting a candidate with an employer, leading to a hire. But the sloppy agent shortly thereafter submitted the same resume to a different location of the same employer. The company, of course, thought its new hire was already looking for a new job.

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