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Have You Personally Used an Honest Head Hunter? 478

Posted by Cliff
from the used-car-salesmen-of-IT? dept.
Haacked asks: "As a software manager, I've tried using recruiters and head hunters to find qualified employees. My experience is that used car salesman feel like paragons of integrity, in comparison. It seems their interests never lie with the job applicant, nor the company. However, I once read that some recruiters do act with integrity and actually care about the people they are trying to place. The book suggested finding a head hunter who is interested in a long term relationship with you (not for the commitment-phobic) and will serve more as a career counselor, attempting to find a position that meets your goals. Seems to me that establishing a long-term relationship with fewer as opposed to screwing people over in volume would make good business sense to garner repeat business. Have any of you ever worked with any firms you felt represented your interests well?"
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Have You Personally Used an Honest Head Hunter?

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  • Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:11PM (#7097811) Homepage Journal

    Have You Personally Used an Honest Head Hunter?"

    Yes, a fellow named Jeffrey Dahmer. Nice guy, if a bit strange. I'd ask him what he did with the rest of the bodies but he always just gave me a sly grin.
    I wonder what ever happened to him..
  • The best one I've worked with was working on a 6-month contract. He got paid either way, but he worked his buns off for us. And, he was dead-honest. Putting one on a 6-month payroll, though, probably defeats the purpose unless you have several positions to fill.
  • I have.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bahamat (187909) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:12PM (#7097833) Homepage
    I've been used by one, does that count?

    Wait, maybe that was abused...
  • My choice (Score:5, Informative)

    by JLSigman (699615) <jlsigman@hotmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:12PM (#7097835) Homepage Journal
    A guy at the Ettain Group [ettain.com] did his best for me, and wasn't upset when I chose a full-time job over the contract he offered me. But not knowing where you are, they may not be available to you.
    • I highly, highly recommend a gentleman named Vern who works for Hobson Associates. [hobsonassoc.com] They're based in CT, but work outside of CT as well.

      Be aware that he will make you go through a rigorous process to document your wants, needs, and goals before he will work with you; he values the relationships he has with his client firms *and* his recruits. So be prepared to work if you call him. Don't waste his time. But if you're honestly looking for a great recruiter who will work hard to put you in the right pla
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:13PM (#7097836)
    Unfortunately, most head hunters do not get paid for employee retention or satisfaction, and simply earn dollars for every body they bring through the doors. As such, there's no incentive to ensure that things work out in anyone's best interest.

    Ideally, long term employee satisfaction & retention should factor into the payroll equation.
    • by doug (926)
      Bingo. You've hit the nail right on the head.

      There needs to be some sort of feedback loop to make the system work better. Most systems work better with checks and balances. Most of the money up front, but some of it later (6 months?) after the employee has been there a while. Maybe give the headhunter bonuses based off of the employee's performance. The headhunter would want more money because of the higher risk, and longer period until payment is complete.

      - doug

      PS: I've never seen this in action, s
  • Most of the few headhunters I have spoken to have all been interested in longer term relationships. Building my resume became a group effort, me to excell in the positions, him to put me into them. It worked quite well.

    I have spoken to one or two who presented themselves as one shot deals. Id rather use a temp agency then associate with someone with so little confidence in themselves, or me.
  • Mom and Dad were the best job finders for me. Of course if you don't want to work near family this might not work for you.
  • by jdauerbach (252525) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:14PM (#7097851)
    Some headhunters work on retainer -- generally filling higher-level positions. They tend to put their client's interests first, because their compensation is already earned and because they work on a long-term basis. Others work on commission, filling a position for, say, 30% of the first-year salary. Many of these are, I understand, a bit less ethical.

    When you speak with a headhunter trying to fill a position, just ask, "Are you on commission for this, or is it a retainer job?" You can learn a lot from that.
  • Nope... (Score:5, Funny)

    by telstar (236404) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:14PM (#7097852)
    Got a call from a guy that's called me every 3-4 months last week.

    Me: "I'm still pretty happy in my current job"
    Him: "Well, we're looking for C# developers, but we'll interview people with java talent to fill those roles."
    Me: "We're looking for Java talent as well, so if I knew good people, I think we'd take them."
    Him: "Really?!? What's the hiring manager's name?"
    Me: "I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want that information given out."
    Him: "Fine... **click**"

    I don't expect to hear from him in 3-4 months.
    • My favorite, when he was taking information from me:

      Him: How much experience have you had with -----.
      Me: Three years.
      Him: Six years experience with -----. How many people do you supervise?
      Me: Two.
      Him: Four reports

      And so forth. Yeah, that's someone I'd trust.

      In general they're harmless and can help you get a foot in the door instead of going through HR when you have no connections. The one rule: DO NOT LET THEM SEND OUT A RESUME WITHOUT CHECKING WITH YOU!!

      So far, I've met two who seemed vaguely trustwort
  • by TopShelf (92521) * on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:14PM (#7097853) Homepage Journal
    I've personally dealt with a wide variety of recruiters over the last few years, and only one has generally conducted himself in a proper, professional fashion (he's from MRI, which is a large firm with offices in several cities). In general, my experience has shown that you're best off dealing with a good-sized placement firm that's been in the game for a long time. Like other aspects of the 90's bubble, recruiting got flooded with resume-shufflers who were looking to make quick bucks by placing anybody and everybody with firms that were scooping up people left and right. By now, many of those prospectors have been driven out of the market. Just for kicks, though, here's a short list of some decidedly unprofessional recruiters I've worked with:

    Shortly after introducing himself, asked me to sign a pledge declaring that I would not, under any circumstances, accept a counteroffer from my current employer.

    One recruiter, who I had never met or spoken to, submitted my resume to the company I had just left two months previously! Not only that, but he grossly exaggerated my experience and qualifications.

    • by hemp (36945)
      I agree, I have met a handfull that are actually honest and upstanding.

      On the employee side, watch out for the scam where they try to get you in at a lower salary than the company is willing to pay in order to get a cut of the savings from the company in addition to the regular commision.

      On the employer side, watch out for the recruiters that taylor their candidates to exactly the qualifications you asked for. Had a few cases where the person being interviewed remarked - "What? Where did you get the ide
    • I had a fellow from Winter Wyman [winterwyman.com] place me in three consecutive companies between 1999 and 2001. First company I left voluntarily after a year to switch tracks, then second two bombed during the fall. He was very professional and seemed to honestly try to balance meeting my desires in placement with expectations of my prospective employers. I don't know how other people feel about Winter Wyman, but I felt that I was treated professionally by them. I really don't have any other experience with recruiters.
      • I was placed in my current job by a guy from Winter Wyman. The company isn't doing too well, but I've been here almost three years (since 12/02), and it was an absolute joy working with him. There was no bullshit, he worked with my resume instead of padding it, and actively went out to find jobs for me (instead of waiting until something came across his desk that I would fit, unlike a certain other agency I tried to use).

        Within two weeks of calling him, I had been on at least half a dozen interviews and ha
    • One recruiter, who I had never met or spoken to, submitted my resume...

      I have seriously considered adding a copyright notice to the copy of my resume that I have posted on my website in order to prevent crap like this. Not only have recruiters submitted my resume without my permission, but a lot of them will modify the resume first to strip out my contact info (so that their client can't contact me directly) and add their company logo. With a copyright notice on there, I figure I could sue their ass.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El (94934) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:15PM (#7097869)
    Like Diogenes and his search for an honest man, I personally have never been able to find an honest headhunter! The sleaziest incident was when one of them slipped me $1000 cash in an unmarked white envelope to quit the job I'd just started and go to work for the job he had been trying to set me up with but was taking too long. Ah, those were the good ol' days...
  • Pay One (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bladernr (683269) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:15PM (#7097870)
    If you want the recruiter on your side, find a pay service. Its just like actors using an agent. I deal with someone who is very good to me; I pay him for services, contacts, etc (fee-based).

    As for recruiters who try to help you out for free, don't forget, you get what you pay for.

    • Re:Pay One (Score:4, Interesting)

      by isaac (2852) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:33PM (#7098068)
      If you want the recruiter on your side, find a pay service. Its just like actors using an agent. I deal with someone who is very good to me; I pay him for services, contacts, etc (fee-based).

      If he's being paid for doing anything other than placing you successfully (or placing people with you successfully - it's not clear from context what role you're in), what's his incentive not to string you along with "services" and "contacts" and "etc." you're paying for, but that never pan out?

      I favor an outcome-oriented approach, personally.

      -Isaac

      • Re:Pay One (Score:5, Informative)

        by bladernr (683269) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:39PM (#7098124)
        it's not clear from context what role you're in

        I'm a professional consultant, so I pay for services to help find me work. (actually, this is a bit past-tense now, as I have work, but I would pay in the future).

        I favor an outcome-oriented approach, personally.

        I understand your position. However, I am comfortable with paying for time. My current clients pays for my time, not my results. Now, if I don't produce results for the time they've paid me for, they stop paying. Nothing stops me, I guess, from failure to complete assignments in attempt to get my contract extended, but that is not a long-term successful approach.

        You should definatly check the agent's referenes before paying them anything. You are basically hiring them as your part-time contracted employee, so do the same things as you would if you were hiring any other employee.

        Yes, I am taking some risk in paying for time without guaranteed results. However, I am asking him to find a client to take a risk in paying for my time, without guaranteeing results.

        This is a pretty standard model in the consulting/contracting industry. You are asking for more of a "fixed-price" system, or pay for results. I am sure that exists, and maybe it works. I personally have no experience with that model, so maybe someone who does could comment?

  • During 8 months of unemployment, I worked with numerous head hunters. I came away with the feeling that their primary concern was placing as many people as possible to earn the placement commission.

    They don't care about the employee or the employer.

    Even though I was desperate for employment, I decided they weren't worth the trouble.

    Not to mention all the OHHHH, that position was just filled after making an inqury about a posting on monster.com (or the like).

    I guess I got lucky, the company I'm working fo

    • by Croaker (10633) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:32PM (#7098064)
      Well, partially, I'd say 'Duh.' These people make money by placing people. That's how they put food on the table... its to be expected that they are more concerned with that than either of the two parties.

      In most cases I've seen, the headhunters are conerned for themselves first, the company second (after all, the company is paying them), and the candidates last.

      Generally, I've tried avoiding recruiters from agencies. At my previous job, I was hired by a recruiter who was on retainer from the company, and I worked with a recruiter while there when we were hiring more people. They seemed to actually care about the company. They also seemed to care a bit about the candidates, since most of them realized that lying to someone just to get them through the door would result in an unhappy employee who was likely to jump ship, which would make them look bad in the eyes of management.

      Personally, if I were at a company and needed to hire, I'd just hire a recruiter, and put them on a bonus schedule... if the employee remains for 6 months, they get a bonus... if the employee is still there after a year, another bonus. That would make the recruiter care about the whole equation, since it is in his/her best interest.

      Oh, and the only time i can actually verify that I was flat-out lied to in order to get me through the door? No recruiter was involved... it was the doing of a VP and my manager.

  • Yes, I've dealt with good recruiters, but they are few and far between. Ultimately, like car salesmen (and everyone else for that matter), they normally think about short term or immediate gains and not long term ones. Most won't trust, believe, or value a long term relationship if it means possibly losing a short term win.

    Network with others to find these good recruiters, and, more importantly, find good candidates. Use your people's contacts/friends to find the candidates based on people that they've
  • by GoNINzo (32266)
    I have used a couple different headhunters, but most of them have not performed very well. Most don't really match the people and the jobs together well.

    However, I did like the Pencom [pencom.com] guys back in the day, and an ex-pencom guy did find me my current job. Course, I was also a CT person [colltech.com] but not anymore. I can say that a guy nicknamed Chilly was a good recruiter, but he's no longer one anymore.

    However, I can't say anything about the companies now, but I'm sure others can. I do get a lot of recruiter emai

  • I don't understand why people still go to headhunters. Even if this mysterious honest recruitment firm did exist, they'd still be taking a lot of money that could be going to your salary (they have to make a profit somehow), and they'll always be bad at matching you up with a company, because if they knew what they were talking about, they'd have a real job.

    Every single job I've ever had was the result of me knowing somebody who either worked for the company, or was a friend of someone in management. Any time I've ever gone on an interview that a headhunter found me, it was a complete fiasco. I'm a java programmer, and most of the time they sent me to companies looking for a javascript guy.

    They also simply tended to be crappy jobs, which is why they had to pay a headhunter to find them employees. An appealing job will attract an employee with little effort. A good employee who's been in the business for a while and knows some people will usually be able to find their way to it.
    • His/her job is to know the market. If you know it, then you don't need the head-hunter.

      Some places require you to go through an 'approved' vender though. Then you have to find a company that will be willing to only take a small cut if you bring them both the job and the candidate. Here we have a company that does that for a $3/hr cut.
    • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:25PM (#7097959) Homepage Journal
      I don't understand why people still go to headhunters. Even if this mysterious honest recruitment firm did exist, they'd still be taking a lot of money that could be going to your salary (they have to make a profit somehow), and they'll always be bad at matching you up with a company, because if they knew what they were talking about, they'd have a real job.

      Certainly not my experience. I've had 2 very good experiences with headhunters, and 2 mediocre ones. It is certainly not true that "if they knew what they were talking about, they'd have a real job." I've had managers that couldn't code, and certainly the headhunters couldn't, but they DID know how to communicate. That's what they're there for, and if they know how to do that you're in good hands.

      I can tell good UI from bad, but I have a real hard time coming up with good UI on my own. There are plenty of art critics who can't paint. Hell, everyone knows good music when they hear it, but relatively few can play.

      For that matter, there are plenty who can play music but not compose - and vice versa...
    • I respectfully disagree.

      My current job was acquired through a head-hunter (a good one) and I wouldn't have gotten it any other way. The employer had an exclusive agreement to bring on a certain number of people and they all had to go through this head-hunter. A sort of package deal.

      As it turns out, the costs for a head-hunter can be equivalent to what one might pay an HR department to do similar work... and when you have a small or non-existant HR department, a reputable head-hunter can be a great asset
    • I don't understand why people still go to headhunters. Even if this mysterious honest recruitment firm did exist, they'd still be taking a lot of money that could be going to your salary

      Agreed. That's why I always cut my own hair too. Why would I pay someone to do something I can do with just a pair of scissors?

      Every single job I've ever had was the result of me knowing somebody who either worked for the company, or was a friend

      Being a bit more serious, the situation you describe is fine for low level
      • Being a bit more serious, the situation you describe is fine for low level, commodity labor. Try hiring your friends to be your CFO or Director of R&D and see how long your company survives.

        And you really think you'd have better results hiring a CFO or Director of R&D from a headhunter? Surely, you've worked with some competent people in the past that are looking for an opportunity.

        Friends aren't just people you hang out with at bars. I know plenty of old clients and cowerkers to fill some pret
    • by I8TheWorm (645702) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:27PM (#7097998) Journal
      I write code for an HR group at a large company, and I can tell you why. Companies don't want to weed through the 300 resumes they get for one position. Quite honestly, they don't have the time. So they trust (at their own peril) a recruiting firm to handle the legwork for them, and narrow it down to a reasonable number.

      For that, they don't mind paying a fee. It does save time and money for the company. Unfortunately, they can get screwed on that deal by a flesh-pimp-headhunter. That will only happen once, though, and most companies (at least this one) won't deal with that agency again.
      • ... Companies don't want to weed through the 300 resumes they get for one position. ...

        I can understand that need, but I personally think there are better ways to satisfy it. You don't have to plaster the newspapers or job sites whenever you have an opening. It might take a lot longer to fill the position if you don't but you can always hire a contractor or temp until you find one. For any position that you wouldn't want a contractor filling, you probably wouldn't want someone coming from a headhunter,
    • When I first moved to Silicon Valley, the company that moved me out went bust within six months. I was stuck in a foreign place with few connections and needed a job -- BAD.

      Luckily, the headhunters smelled the carcass of the dying company I was working for, and like vultures, started calling. I actually found a good one and got a better job WITH a 50% raise. Would not have happened without a headhunter.
    • I don't understand why people still go to headhunters. Even if this mysterious honest recruitment firm did exist, they'd still be taking a lot of money that could be going to your salary (they have to make a profit somehow), and they'll always be bad at matching you up with a company, because if they knew what they were talking about, they'd have a real job.

      So everybody who knows anything about development does development? Good thing we never need to hire tech writers, managers... No wait, we do need th

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I knew a good headhunter, I wouldn't be at home in my underwear posting to Slashdot, you insensitive clod!
  • Not really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bokelley (563370) *

    I have worked with a number of headhunters, and I've had very unpleasant results across the board.

    It's something of a vicious cycle in that hiring managers tend to hedge their bets by bringing in multiple headhunters, making it less profitable for the headhunters to do high-quality work for any giving manager. It just doesn't make economic sense for them to really screen candidates and find the perfect fit since neither the candidate nor the hiring manager is locked in.

    At one point I tried using a headh

  • just hire a head hunter to find you a good head hunter
  • Question of intent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:18PM (#7097892) Homepage Journal
    Obviously there are always people out there willing to outright scam you, but I haven't run into any that I've noticed. Mostly what you get to deal with are people who cheat you out of incompetence, not knowing or caring what you do. The worst interview is when you arrive, and you and the client realize that you had different ideas of what the position requirements were.
  • Yes, they exist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:18PM (#7097893) Homepage Journal
    I have worked with a couple over the years and have one now that I really like. Good, honest headhunters are a lot like reliable babysitters. Extremely hard to find, but they do exist. And, once you find one, you do everything you can to preserve your relationship. (Unless it's a babysitter and your last name is Kennedy :)
  • well.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by I8TheWorm (645702) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:18PM (#7097895) Journal
    I have, but it was deep into my career as a developer before I found one.

    Most seem to be flesh pimps... put a warm body in a seat... as long as they get their check. That can not only ruin their reputation with companies out there, but can ruin a developer's career and self esteem.

    I have to wonder, in retrospect, if part of the problem was me though. I now know exactly how to talk with head hunters, and think I am pretty good at getting a feel for what they're actually about. I have no problem telling them when they're wrong, and when I think they're trying to pimp me out.

    I have a good working relationship with two head hunters now, and they know my skillset very well. I haven't had a problem with the flesh pimps (other than the usual cold calls) in some time.

    I did, once, have one ask me how long it would take for me to learn a particular language that wasn't on my resume. I asked him how long it would take him to learn Portugese. He got the message.
    • p.s. I've had the most success with Robert Half Tech in the Houston area.

      If you ever get a call from a recruiter with Beatek (also BTek), just hang up. You'll thank yourself later, even if you're flipping burgers.
    • What message is that? Don't you find learning another language pretty straightforward after the first half-dozen or so?
      • I do, actually. But generally headhunters sell candidates based on their experience with the tools used at the site. And these days, nobody pays to wait for you to get up to speed. My resume has all of the tools/languages that I know very well on it, and when I get up to speed on one, I add it.
    • I did, once, have one ask me how long it would take for me to learn a particular language that wasn't on my resume. I asked him how long it would take him to learn Portugese. He got the message.

      Oh, you poor thing! Did the mean man try to make you learn Java? shhhhhhhhh, it's OK, the mean man won't hurt you anymore. shhhhhhhh..........

      • Re:well.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by I8TheWorm (645702)
        I suppose the demeaning tone was for a humor mod, but in case you were wondering, Java is actually on my resume, along with C, C++, C++ with MFC, Perl, and (don't hate me) even Visual Basic. What this guy wanted was PowerBuilder, which is a Basic language, but not one I've ever used. It was also for a turnkey program. They wanted PowerBuilder because that's what all the other current apps were written in.

        If I'm going to sell myself, or allow a headhunter to sell me, as a programmer in a particular lang
  • by pcraven (191172) <(paul) (at) (cravenfamily.com)> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:20PM (#7097906) Homepage
    I've worked with a dozen or so head hunters. I've only me one I totally trusted. Good signs for a head-hunter:

    1.) Works with you to establish your hourly rate, and the hourly rate he'll bill you at. (Doesn't hide rates.)
    2.) No IP agreements.
    3.) Reasonable non-competes
    4.) How well they treat H1-B people. Do they threaten to deport them if they leave the company?
    5.) Have you seen them lie? Do research with other people in the company. Ask pointed questions and see if employee answers match head-hunter answers.
    6.) Attitude towards overtime.
    7.) No patronizing attitude
    8.) Open with what is going on with office politics
    9.) Shows you the contract between head-hunter and company you'll go to.
    10.) Asks where you want to go with your career

    Bottom line, you've got to do your research. Google for people that have worked at the same company and ask them questions.
  • Make sure the headhunter's incentive structure is in line with serving your interests. Obviously, you want to avoid a company that takes a fee ( in my opinion, even a portion of a fee) on the initial hire. Fee structures where the headhunter takes (say) 50% of its fee if the hire stays (say) 6 months, and takes the remaining portion of its fee if the hire remains for a full year gets you a good chunk of the way to making sure the headhunter's incentives are in line with your own. After all, if they send
  • Common practice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zolon (605240)
    Thanks to the market being swamped, the head hunters have started to turn against not only the possable employee, but against the company looking for the recruit. I have seen, and been on the recieving end many times of a head hunter saying that I had a job, just to find out they gave it to some one else. Once, I even got a call from the company I was going to be working for, and they asked why *I* turned them down. Don't trust a head hunter, there is a reason they are called that. sin
  • Contingency recruiters, who get paid to fill a slot and will mailshot you CV everywhere to get the "we introduced person x to you first, so pay the fee please". And retainer recruiters, who are paid to find a shortlist of people for a fixed fee, even if the employer doesn't end up taking them on. If you're job hunting, the general technique is to write to all the target companies you're looking at directly, tell a few retainer recruiters you're looking, and generally to avoid contingency recruiters like t
  • The only honest headhunter would be someone who hates money.
  • by iiioxx (610652) <iiioxx@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:23PM (#7097937)
    Yes, I know of at least one honest headhunter. I've known him for years. He found me a good job as a sysadmin at a nice company a few years ago. He worked hard to get me there, but I ended up not taking the job (for reasons to complicated to go into). But even though he had put in a lot of time setting the deal up, he was very understanding when I turned it down.

    What's more, he didn't hold a grudge. Six months ago when I was looking for a change of scenary, I applied for a job online. It turned out Vince was the headhunter, now working for a different company himself. He not only remembered me by name, but recommended me highly to the client (which turned out to be the same company he works for), and I ended up getting the job.

    A month ago, a friend of mine was looking to get out of a sinking ship himself. I gave him Vince's number, and in three weeks Vince not only found him a job, but found him something that fit him well. In this economy? I was floored.

    So yes, they are out there. You just have to look around a little.
  • I had given my resume to a few techie headhunter groups (looking for a job, not an employee), and all they did was search and compare acronyms and words they don't understand.

    I'd really try to prequalify them to see if they've gotten any better. It was a couple of years ago last try, but I've spoken with 2-3 of them.
  • Mixed experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by louthegiantrat (442862) <rob_dimarcoNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:24PM (#7097947)
    I have had both good and bad luck with head hunters.

    Some warning signs of a bad one:

    1) The headhunter says things like "This is the best developer I have ever talked to." or "You'll want to hire this guy immediately" or "I have ten people perfect for the job you're offering"

    2) The resumes that the headhunter gives you are fully of typos and gramatical errors. Not only doesn't the applicant care enough to fill it out, but the headhunter didn't care enough to review it.

    3) Headhunter says "Even though he doesn't have the experience you said you wanted, I know you'll love him".

    Good signs when talking to a headhunter.

    1) FIXED RATES!!!! Most headhunters get a percentage of the salary of the person coming in. There incentive is to get you to hire the most expensive guy, whether he is qualified or not. Fixed rate headhunters just want to keep you happy so that you come back.

    2) They do full pre-screening interviews with technical questions before forwarding any resumes.

    3) When you reject a candidate, they try to find out why so that they don't make the same mistake twice.

    Overall, I think that the right headhunter can be a great help with recruiting, but always understand that there interest is in placing candidates with you and not necessarily that the candidate fits.
  • Years ago, I have been contacted by a head hunter regarding a job posting I had applied to.

    We had an hour-long chat about my past and experiences, and just shooting the breeze on a number of fairly interresting subjects (he had a technical rather than HR background, so he could hold a conversation.)

    The result? He turned me away from the job I applied for "You're going to hate it there", dived in his file drawer and pulled out something entirely unrelated telling me that this was the job for me.

    Got an

  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:26PM (#7097969) Homepage Journal
    His name was Alan. He was a decent guy. Alan and me got to know each other when I needed to fill some spots on a desktop support help desk at 35k a year (this being back in 1995-97 when it was hard, but possible to find such people). He sent over a boatload of fine people - I hired about 6 people off of him.

    Anyway, since he was so good, I gave him my resume and let him shop me around the next time I was looking. He landed me in 3 jobs in a row. Then, I have to admit, I fucked up. I was in the middle of a divorce, and I was being slack. The company fired me because of a performance issue (my fault - I was taking too much time up, showing up late, that kind of thing).

    After that, he didn't have any time to spend on me. I suspect (this was mid-2000) that he was having performance issues of his own - the .com bubble had burst in Silicon Alley and placements were really dry.

    I haven't been able to get a hold of him in a long time. I suspect he is out of the business, he doesn't work for the old agency he used to. If anyone knows of an Alan Chase in the NYC area, send me an ICQ or mail, though, he was a great guy and i'd love to work with him again. Divorce is over, things are cool again.
  • ... but Teksystems has treated me very well in the past.

    Lately, though, they seem to be slipping... getting more like their slimy competitors. I hope it ain't so, 'coz they treated me VERY well when I worked for them a few years ago.

  • Why would you want to use a head hunter? Most places that have jobs available (white collar and blue collar) will put an ad in the paper or on their website.
    • Why would you want to use a head hunter? Most places that have jobs available (white collar and
      blue collar) will put an ad in the paper or on their website.


      All the IT Companies I know of use recruitment agencies. The only one I know of that didn't,
      had its OWN recruitment agency; that placed people at other IT companies.

      Newspaper ads are generally placed by recruitment companies, not the direct employer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:27PM (#7097986)
    I once had a head hunter place me in a position at Enron as a DBA of their financial databases, even though my only prior experience was that of MS Access and a little VB. My incompetence was almost exposed a few times especially when one of my macros got out of hand and started calculating losses as profits. I just hope my new position at SCO will last a little longer :)
  • Have any of you ever worked with any firms you felt represented your interests well?

    Never.

    In every experience I've had where I was sent as an applicant to a company via a recruiter, the recruiter had always doctored up my resume, and tried to push me into being dishonest about my experiences (such as making a little bit of experience with something sound more like a lot of experience with something).

    I've also noticed (being on the interviewing side) that most recruiters don't know squat about tech s

  • I've had mixed dealings with headhunters. Most don't give a crap about who you are and what you want. They are just trying to fill seats and make as much money as they possibly can.

    I have met a select few who do go the extra mile. I remember one way back in 1989 who actually sat down with me and we talked for good while about what I wanted. She actually got me an interview with my dream company at the time (Pixar) but when that fell through, she got me other interviews and finally landed me at another p

  • At least I've talked with a few who acted and talked as if they were honest. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be true. ; )

    steve
  • A few exist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LauraW (662560) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:30PM (#7098028)
    I've encountered a few honest recruiters. The key seemed to be that I found them rather than the other way around.

    When I was first out of college, I used a headhunter to find my first programming job in Chicago. I can't remember his name or the company, but he was somewhere downtown on Wacker street I think. It took several months to find a job that I was a good fit for, especially since I didn't have a CS degree. He sent me on one or two interviews that weren't really good fits for me and was kind of amazed when I turned a company down because they were "too corporate." But he got the message, and a bit later he found me weveral interviews at once and I ended up with three offers to choose from.

    Out here in Silicon Valley I know one good recruiter who used to work for one of my former employers on a contract basis. She found good people for us to interview, which is exactly what she was supposed to do. She also gave me some advice when I was job hunting again a few months ago. The recruiters who work for my current employer seemed good too. In both of these cases they definitely represented the employer, not the potential employees.

    On the other hand I've run across some bad ones. Before I found the good one in Chicago, I encountered some agencies that were more like meat markets than technical recruiters. At one of them I showed up for an initial interview and they were also interviewing hairdressers. From the employer side, I've also encountered quite a few recruiters who will give managers lots and lots of resumes for unqualified people, without making any effort to filter them at all. ("Does the word Java appear anywhere on this resume? No? Then why did you send it to me for a Java programming job?")

    Summary: There are some excellent recruiters out there, but they're hard to find. Once you find a good one, stick with them.

  • by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge@gmaSLA ... com minus distro> on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:31PM (#7098041) Journal
    We had someone come out from a temp agency, but they had a section specializing in tech support. We needed another person to help with projects for a while. Info: I work for a public school district.

    He was a moron. Idiot. Slacker.

    I don't understand why he was even in the tech field in the first place. Sure, he knew how to install software, but I had to show how to browse a Windows network! He was the equivalent of an end user! Ack! He had very little knowledge, couldn't improvise, and only showed up half the time.

    When we interviewed (and hired) somebody else for the position he wanted to fill, he was disappointed. Wanting to somewhat save his damaged pride, I said, "Yeah, the person we hired for the job had a Master's Degree."

    To which he replied, "If I had a Master's Degree I'd just go in and ask to buy the school."

    As if they roll up a million dollar bill with your Master's. As if one could simply buy a public school.

    It was the stupidest thing I had ever heard, but I only said, "Yeah, the tech sector is kinda tight right now."

  • by H310iSe (249662) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:33PM (#7098072)
    When I was a hiring manager I liked psinapse [psinapse.com] because, while I got very few resumes from them, every one was a good candidate for the job opening (they sent almost no crud) - Since I've been freelance I've done a job for them as well, they were easy to work with and very supportive. Small company, but nice.
  • by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:38PM (#7098108) Homepage
    I actually have someone I work with fairly regularly who seems genuinely interested in helping. Of the handful of people I've used for headhunters, this one definitely stands out above the crowd. (er... if anyone is looking for a Data Warehousing job in the midwest, I can put you in contact... :-)

    But I'm not sure it matters... you can pretty much get headhunters to do what you want by following a few simple rules:

    First, remain independant -- don't agree to use only one Headhunter and, in fact, make it clear that whoever you use has no right to submit you for a job without your permission. You can maintain control this way, which leads us to:

    Second, take what you want, leave the rest alone -- make it clear what you're looking for in a job and don't accept anything else (up to the point you can afford it). Headhunters make money by getting you to agree to work, so they'd rather be a bit annoyed with you and spend twice as long finding you a job than losing you as a client completely. As long as a headhunter is willing to call you up, you have the possibility that they'll be the one to find your perfect job, so you don't want to alienate anyone, but that's tough to do since they're on commission (all the ones I've seen).

    Thirdly, demand open contracts -- this is the only one that's not completely trivial to negotiate. Many headhunting companies have policies that they will tell you the percentage off the top that they're skimming. Rates vary, of course -- I've seen 10% and 50%... still, if the money's right this may not be important to you. Most companies will agree to tell you, and in some cases, you can get a better deal going with someone's competitor. Lots of the jobs on web search engines are the same job posted through various employment agencies, so you may be able to get more money for the same job from someone else. Having this rate disclosure helps prevent that, and it also gives you a bit of a bargaining chip if you turn out to be really good in the position.

    Just using those three rules, I think you can convince yourself that whoever is offering you jobs is at least somewhat likely to find something you'll accept. And for the most part, even if you can't stand your headhunter, that should barely affect your job once you're signed on and getting paid. While I like that my agent calls me up or takes me out for drinks now and again, it's not worth losing much salary over.
  • I had one send me out to a job with 2 hours notice. I show up ten minutes early with a tie, clean slacks, a resume, and a smile only to get there and the hiring person said, "who are you and why are you here?" The headhunter forgot to schedule me an appointment. What a dolt. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

    After spending a few months haggling with a few headhunters and going on about 15 interviews at jobs that I would not have taken if they offered it, I ended up getting the hook up from a friend.

    He
  • Define Honest.

    It's one thing for a headhunter/recruiter/placement firm to get your resume, say "well we'll keep your resume on file and keep in touch" and you never hear from them again. Perhaps they've tossed it or neglected you. Perhaps they really never come across anything you'd be qualified for. Perhaps they're incompetent. In any event, some would describe this as "dishonest" (the dishonesty being that they will call you back)

    I guess the other side of the coin is headhunters who lie to get people

  • by neurojab (15737) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:43PM (#7098161)
    You're trying to tell me that you're having TROUBLE FINDING QUALIFIED SOFTWARE ENGINEERS? Surely you jest. Why not just put an ad on Monster.com and look through a few of the thousands of resumes you'll get. If you're too lazy for that, I can forward you twenty or thirty names. Damn, you can't throw a dead cat in Sillicon Valley without hitting an unemployed software engineer with excellent credentials.

    While we're at it, I'm having trouble finding a starbucks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Can Slashdot help? Please send me the addresses of the one closest to me. I'd also like a free Frappucino.
  • In the late '80s I started working with a headhunter who was a retired developer. He understood what I wanted to do and he was able to track jobs that I would be interested in and qualified for. He worked with me for a couple of years and finally found a job I really liked.

    That company went under, and when I tried to contact him again the phone number didn't work and mail was returned as undeliverable.

    So, I talked to several headhunters and found one who at least acted honest. He also had a background as
  • When you walk into one of these firms, they ask you to fill out a form that has all your personal information (work history, SSN, date of birth, Driver's License #, etc.). That is precisely the information someone would need to apply for credit in your name or forge a false identity.

    I wouldn't be surprised to find that some of these firms have a significant business on the side stealing identities. It is very lucrative, penalties are non-existent and there is almost no prosecution, so it's a natural niche

  • by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:47PM (#7098201)
    I couldn't care if they were honest or not, jsut as long as they got me a job. That, and kept buying me dinners & lunches. They'd call me, and I'd say, "Sure, let's talk. Over lunch.", then I'd have them meet me at a very nice place for steaks and/or sushi. Why would I care if they were honest? They got me the jobs, and as long as I got paid, I didn't care if I ever saw them again (but I usually did call them up for dinner/lunch every few months).
  • by Admiral1973 (623214) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:47PM (#7098207) Homepage
    Most of the time it's a temporary relationship, whether you're a hiring manager or just a candidate looking for work. Unless you work strictly as a contractor or manage the HR operations for a company with lots of constant turnover, you're only going to work with a headhunter when you need to change jobs or fill a vacancy. Hopefully, with this economy, you're not doing that too often. It's hard to build the kind of trust that a good relationship demands if you only work with a recruiter or agency every few years.

    I've had good results working with one particular headhunter, who found me my current job and negotiated a good starting deal for me, but I haven't talked to him or anyone else from his company for at least two years (I've been employed here 3+ years). So I'm not sure I'd trust him or the agency to represent me another time, just because of the lack of familiarity. Although I hadn't met him before my previous job search, and he got me my kick-ass job. I suppose I'd give him a call, just to let him know I was available again. Before this job, a headhunter found me my previous job, but it turned out that he and my former boss were old buddies. Since I conducted my last job search on the sly, I couldn't trust that recruiter not to tell my boss what I was doing. These are the kinds of risks inherent in dealing with headhunters when you're looking for work.

  • by iSwitched (609716) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:48PM (#7098215)

    I've worked with three companies since about '96 -- both as employer and employee, and found them to be extremely diligent. Most recently I landed an extremely good full time position at an excellent salary doing work on an interesting project. The recruiter who placed me still checks in occasionally with me and others she's placed at this company.

    I am certain their are incompetent, and sometimes even deceitful recruiters out there, just as there are bad people in any field, luckily I haven't been hooked by one.

    In the boom times of the late nineties, recruiters were everyone's buddies, often landing job-switchers with plum assignments at higher salaries. In the bust, even the good ones have got a bad rap - not returning emails and calls, failing to respond to resumes and correspondence, etc.

    But look, IT recruiting is affected as much by the current economic cycle as developers, sysadmins, projects managers, and the rest.

    At least one of the good ones I've worked with has switched careers, as business dried up. Others still have to sift through hundreds of resumes, emails, calls, and match those to a dwindling number of opportunities. It's only marginally easier to get a recruiters attention than a prospective employers these days, so how about this:

    Practice selling yourself like the valuable resource you are. Here are some things that worked for me:

    • Really think about your resume, don't just slap it together, and don't forget that formatting counts. Get some help from someone more experienced if you need to.
    • Don't just fire off blind emails - whether to employers or recruiters, tailor your email to the person/position of interest. Where possible, follow up with a snail-mail letter and hard-copy of your resume.
    • If a phone number is provided, wait a while for your email to get in, then follow up with a call - if you can a message system, leave your full name, the position of interest, and your phone number. Take time to express some genuine interest, even if just on the recording.
    • If you have experience, compile a portfolio, include a brief description of the projects you've worked on, what technologies were employed, and some personal touches like why they were of interest to you, or what provided motivation for particular design-choices. If you have screen-shots, even better, put 'em with the write-ups.
    • Place your portfolio, resume, and a skills summary on the web in an attractive format and include the URL in all your correspondence.

    One more thing: Have trouble in social situations, expressing yourself to non-tech people, public-speaking? No matter, so do a lot of people, you're not alone. You can either change or expect that IT people with those skills may beat you out of opportunities. Take a public-speaking or debate course at a community college and practice. If you find yourself calling end-users 'lusers', think GUIs are for wimps, or get impatient with your grandma 'cause she can't ssh into your linux box, you need to pay close attention to what I've just said.

    None of this will gurantee you'll always find honest, helpful recruiters, but at least you'll get their attention, if they're out there.

  • by cribcage (205308) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:49PM (#7098230) Homepage Journal

    This book [amazon.com] is filled with great tips and advice on finding the "right" job. Moreover, apart from specific suggestions, its approach will get you thinking outside the box, so to speak, and you'll come up with your own ideas.

    I've had some great ideas, over the years. Some have proven successful, and others had led to spectacular failure. But I've never regretted being creative in search of a good job, because it's always landed me someplace worth being.

    Keep your resume and correspondence brief and sharp. You're almost always in competition for a prospective employer's attention, so you have to stand out from the pack. A four-page resume with solid blocks of text is a bad idea. Plan your resume visually, just like an advertisement -- because that's exactly what it is.

    Do whatever you can to bypass the wall of "human resources," and get to the people who are empowered to recognize skill and talent. The primary purpose of an HR department is not to hire, but rather to screen. The first thing an HR employee looks for, when picking up someone's resume, is a reason why this person can't be right for the job.

    Remind yourself of some basic marketing tips and techniques. I recommend all three of Harry Beckwith's books, starting with Selling the Invisible [amazon.com]. Everything, from your cover letter to your interview, is about selling yourself. Mention your skills, but focus on yourself. At the end of the day, in most cases, an employer isn't hiring a resume or a set of skills: He's hiring a person. You. The first three seconds of the interview are the most important, so smile and offer a firm handshake. Dress just a little bit better than is appropriate for the job; don't wear jeans, and don't wear a tux. Carry a "Thank You" card with you to the interview, and drop it into a mailbox as you leave.

    Instead of trying to prove that you're the best choice, convince the employer that you're a good choice.

    My two cents. [alt-usage-english.org]

    crib
  • by kwiqsilver (585008) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:50PM (#7098238)
    I once asked a head hunter if an interview he scheduled for me would be preceeded by a urine test. I told him I wanted to know so I could drink a bottle of water to prepare myself. (A few weeks earlier, I had to wait in a company's on-site health center for an hour "processing" water for a urine test, before they'd even let me interview). He told me it was a delicate topic, but he'd try to find out.
    A few hours later, he called back and said he asked around his office and found out there are chemicals you can put in your sample cup to hide drug traces.
    So not only did he assume I was a druggie and a liar (even though I told him the true reason I asked), but thinking that, he decided to not only not tell the client but help me decieve the client. When I got the job, I told the story to my boss and the HR rep. They never used that agency again.

    Head hunters are like car salesmen (or worse...they're like the dealership finance manager). They get big margins, rarely get repeat customers, have a short time to close the deal (so they use high pressure tactics), and have to make regular sales to keep their jobs.
    Head hunters might actually be worse, since they have to con both parties of the sale, a car salesman doesn't deal with the manufacturer.
  • by puppetluva (46903) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @05:54PM (#7098275)
    Here are a few tips:
    • What they give you. The proof of a good headhunter is if they can give you introductions directly to the hiring managers for jobs you want. You are leveraging their contacts and thats it. They're not your friends or your family, so only trust them as far as their introductions. Fire ones that guilt-trip you and only be loyal to the ones that perform.
    • What they don't give you - sound career advice. Headhunters can't give you good career advice. How could they?. . .they aren't in the same field as you. Furthermore, their advice often incents you to switch jobs often. . . which helps them line their pockets and hurts your career. They can give good resume-design advice. . . that's about all the advice they CAN give you and you should probably take it -- short of lying (at least doctor-up a resume format that they like for their sales-job -- keep your original for other purposes if you feel so compelled).
    • When should you [not] use them? Use them when you don't have personal contacts that can help you get in the door. At that point they are worth the money. Avoid using them to get you into a company that you already have an "in" with. They can screw up your salary negotiation and collect a fee if they've already submitted your resume where you could have been hired directly. Be up-front about having them avoid those companies you have an "in" with.
    • Never sign an exclusive. This is good life advice and extends outside of headhunting. You should always be in contact with a few headhunters and then force them to compete. (although let them know which companies you are already submitted to so you don't get submitted more than once.)
    • They should work all the time. Happily employed? Hoping for that big bonus? How do you know what is a good bonus and what isn't? Headhunters tell you by coming up with new job opportunities even when you aren't looking. (although they shouldn't show your resume unless they ask you first) Knowing what the market will bear is good for you career. What if you are unhappy?. . . well it sure doesn't hurt to have people beating the street for you ahead of time.
    • Don't work with agents that don't respect your privacy. Good headhunters don't submit your resume without asking you first. If one submits your paper without asking you, then fire them immediately.
    • Don't work with fools. Keep getting submitted for Javascript jobs when you wanted Java jobs? Stop using that headhunter. Not everyone is that inept, and it isn't worth your time to spend time on educating people who should care more about their jobs.
    Good luck. . . just remember - headhunters are your suppliers (they are "contact" suppliers). They aren't your friends, and they aren't your supporters - they work for you and they only care about getting money for placing you. Treat them that way and push them to work hard and do a good job.
  • by smartin (942) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:11PM (#7098468)
    Is that they do not work for you. They work for themselves and they want to place bodies no matter what. Another thing is that they know that there is little chance that they will get repeat business from you but there is a good chance that they will get repeat business from the employer, therefore they are more interested in pleasing the employer than pleasing you. Third, they make a big stinking commision for placing you. Don't be shy to ask them for some of it. They will pay you a signing bonus if they have to.
  • by JakiChan (141719) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:21PM (#7098568)
    a.k.a. TechieGold.com, a.k.a. Atlantis Partners, a.k.a. Boylston Group, a.k.a. MacArthur Associates, a.k.a. Remington International...

    I once repsonded to this job posting and the recruiter wanted me to come in to their San Jose office and talk to them. They also wanted references. Sure, what the hell. I was told to make sure my resume was on their techie gold website. I came in, went through some dorky formulaic interview, and was sent on my way with promises that they'd be in touch. I'd been laid off recently, so I felt like I had accomplished something. This same office then used my "references" as contacts (I know, I was naive) and tried to pitch people to them and otherwise hit them up. They later screwed up with one of my references by claiming they were an authorized vendor for his company when there weren't - they had pitched a good guy, but my friend couldn't hire him.

    Cut to a month later, and I am asked to come up to a recruiter in San Francisco. Before I get there they tell me about Techie Gold, and I tell them I'm already in there. When I get there the first thing I notice is that their computers are identical - the same iMacs appearing to run the same software as the place in San Jose. They run me through the SAME exact interview process (write some acronym on the resume and proceed to ask questions) and then I have to ask what their relationship to this other firm is. They say that they're both "Techie Gold Partners", whatever that means. I explain how their offices are laid out EXACTLY the same and the interview is EXACTLY the same. She repeats that they are "Techie Gold Partners". At least this time I didn't give them "references".

    So I get home and do some digging around and realize that this company, Stride and Associates, is either selling headhunter franchies or operating these "companies" in the attempt to look diverse. Either way they aren't very honest about it, and aren't very good. If you talk to a company using one of those four names or who wants you to go to TechieGold to fill out your resume don't bother. They probably are just looking for "contacts" and don't really have the job anyway.
    • Thanks for posting the list of known "aliases" of TechieGold.com "partners". It'll give me a list of places to avoid next time I have to look for a job.

      I dealt with Remington International in Chicago. They posted a job listing looking for people with experience in wireless internet and I replied. After a brief phone interview with a recruiter (which felt like a pressure sell from a used car guy), I filled out the stuff on TechiesGold.com and went downtown to talk to the recruiter/headhunter guy.

      The open a
  • by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:52PM (#7098862)
    "Seems to me that establishing a long-term relationship with fewer as opposed to screwing people over in volume would make good business sense to garner repeat business."

    That makes good business sense for a recruiting firm. Unfortunately, headhunters aren't looking to stay in that job for a long time. They either want to hop from job to job increasing their salaries and collecting bonuses along the way and cash out early (Much like the people they are trying to place.), or they're occupational transients-people who are smart and capable enough to handle a white-collar job, but not ready to settle into a career.

    And don't forget that jobhunters know that headhunters are scum, and probably hate them just as much as you do. Smart techies often ignore headhunters altogether, instead just focusing on personal networking and direct applications to bigger companies with recruiting departments.

    Do yourself-and the industry-a favor. Don't feed those bastards, and maybe they'll all die off.
  • by steppin_razor_LA (236684) on Tuesday September 30, 2003 @06:55PM (#7098898) Homepage Journal
    I was taken for a sizable chunk of change by a "career counseling" firm. Often times these firms represent themselves as recruiters. Unlike recruiters, they charge the job seeker a fee. They promise to provide you with access to contacts/the "hidden" job market and usually bundle things such as resume re-writes and "career marketing plans."

    I recommend strong caution before you ever pay someone to assist you in your job search. For more information see: Jobscams.com [jobscams.com]

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