How to work with employment agencies and headhunters

While working with a recruiter is no guarantee of a job, it’s often an avenue worth pursuing.

How to work with employment agencies and headhunters

Recruiters work to hire talent in every industry imaginable.

To the average job seeker, the world of employment agencies, recruiters, and headhunters may seem slightly walled-off and mysterious. You’re out there conducting your job search when one day you get an out-of-the-blue message from someone saying you could be a potential fit for a role they’re helping to fill. 

Maybe you follow up with a quick phone conversation before firing off your resume. Maybe it leads to a great job—or maybe you never hear from them again. Even so, working with a recruiter or headhunter can be a great way to supplement your own job search and put yourself in the way of new opportunities, particularly when you have a strong idea of the types of roles you want to pursue.

But how do you navigate the recruiting world in the first place? We’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s cover the basics.

What do recruiters and headhunters do?

While there are some differences between recruiters and headhunters (who may not favor that particular term), the bottom line is the same: Both are staffing professionals who are hired by a client company to find talent (that's you) and help fill existing job openings. Many businesses also have their own in-house recruiters, who work in a similar manner, and are worth seeking out if you have a specific employer in mind. 

Because a recruiter or headhunter is hired by an outside company, you typically won’t be on the hook for payment if you take advantage of their services. Instead, they receive a commission when they fill the job, similar to a real estate agent who earns money when you buy or sell a house. At the end of the day, though, they work for the client (i.e. not you), so don’t be offended when a recruiter or headhunter goes off the radar if they don’t think you’re a good fit.

How to use a recruiter

Your best bet is to focus on employment agencies that specialize in your particular field. There are plenty of online resources for finding one, but a quick Google search should also do the trick. Given the hit-or-miss nature of recruiter leads, you’ll want to continue conducting your own self-guided job search as you work with a recruiter, headhunter, or staffing firm—but if you’re focused on one specific industry, they may have access to opportunities you wouldn’t be able to find on your own.

Once you make the initial connection (whether you reach out to them or they contact you), you’ll most likely hop on a quick phone call to discuss your background and the types of roles you’re interested in. Our advice: Treat this like a regular job interview.

While recruiters and headhunters can help market your resume to their client, you still need to do a good job of selling yourself and your abilities. If one job doesn’t work out, a recruiter might keep you in mind for future roles that come on their radar. At the same time, don’t be afraid to request references from a recruiter or ask them questions about what you can expect from the relationship.

Then it’s a matter of waiting to see if one of their clients bites and you become an actively considered candidate. From that point on, it’s business as usual in terms of the interview process—and in some cases, you may find that your recruiter’s recommendation has even given you a leg-up.

Connect with more recruiters

Establishing relationships with employment agencies, recruiters, and headhunters can help secure more job opportunities, and these professionals work in every industry imaginable. Want to find recruiters who can help you out? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are two quick and easy ways Monster can take you from here to hired in less time than job searching on your own.