(Updated Feb. 2, 2021)
Recruiters and headhunters and career coaches…oh my!
The employment world is chock full of choices when it comes to people who can help you get the job of your dreams. And while they are related, there are some important differences. Here’s a closer look at each.
Recruiters generally do not work for the company that has the job opening. Many of them work for staffing agencies or are independent contractors.
- Their job is to search out people to fill vacancies within the company, but they have no authority in the hiring process.
- Larger companies with a big human resources department may have their own in-house recruiter.
- They may have industry-specific knowledge…or may not.
“Headhunter” and “recruiter” are virtually the same thing. They try to find people to match specific job vacancies. Headhunters typically work for a staffing agency. Well-qualified people in hot industries, such as technology, may find themselves approached by many headhunters for particular job openings. And while it’s nice to feel the love, it can be pretty daunting.
Some things to remember about headhunters:
- They get paid for placing an employee, up to 25% of the successful candidate’s starting annual salary. That can be a good thing or a bad thing – the more money the job candidate makes, the more money the headhunter makes. The downside is that job candidates could be pressured into taking a job that isn’t a good fit so the headhunter can make a fee.
- May not have an inside track on jobs that are not posted.
- They are generalists who work for anyone who needs help filling certain jobs. That means they may not know much about the company that’s hiring, its culture or how this particular job fits into the overall structure. Or even the more nitty-gritty details of what the specific job entails.
Human resources professionals
Human resources departments handle much of the nuts and bolts of employment. Those things generally include:
- Creating job descriptions, in conjunction with department heads and other company stakeholders
- Advertising vacancies
- Checking resumes to make sure candidates have the experience, education, etc., called for by the job description
- Handle the initial interview, trying to determine how well the prospect would fit into the company
- Testing (skills, drugs, etc.), if required
- Forwarding top candidates to the hiring manager for the next level
This management-level employee has the authority to hire someone for a specific role within her department. Depending on the size of the company, she will:
- Talk to candidates passed along by human resources department, or do everything herself, from advertising to interviewing to hiring to training
- Focus on your skills and experience to see how well they match her needs
- Ask specific questions about your previous jobs and duties. She may also ask behavioral interview questions to find out how you have reacted to specific, sometimes challenging circumstances.
A career coach:
- Focuses on you and what you want
- Helps you figure out what you want if you don’t know
- Works for you, not the hiring company or the staffing agency
- Reviews your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, other materials to make sure they are appropriate
- Creates with you a plan of action to help you find the job you want
- Keeps you moving forward
- Can plays the hiring manager in mock job interviews with you
- Assesses your dress, body language, tone of voice, etc.
- Assist with negotiations
Depending on where you are – physically and in your career – one or more of these options may play a role in your job search.
In all cases, remember this: No one cares more about your career than you do. Do your research, learn as much as you can about the company before even applying for a job.
What’s been your experience in this area? Have recruiters or headhunters worked out for you? Please add your wisdom in the comments below!