• I'm happy to introduce the Styleforum Happy Hour, our brand new podcast featuring lively discussion about menswear and the fashion industry. In the inaugural edition, a discussion of what's going on in retail today. Please check it out on the Journal. All episodes will be also be available soon on your favorite podcast platform.

  • Styleforum Gives - Holiday Charity Auction 8: Cuir de Russie card case from Equus Leather

    We are very proud to present this year's edition of the Styleforum Holiday Charity Auctions, this year in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane (www.rmhcspokane.org). Each Auction lasts 24 hours. Please follow and bid on all the auctions.

    The 8th auction is for a Cuir de Russie card case from Equus Leather. Please bid often and generously here

    Fok and the Styleforum Team.

  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Headhunter Question

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
Last week a lady from Boyden Excecutive Search contacted me to ask if I was interested in a specific position. I asked her how she knew my name and she told me that someone has recomended me, who she was not free to tell. She then sent me a job description for a job that was one step higher than I could in all probability get, but since she didn't talk much and an unknown person presumably had recomended me for something I sent my CV.
Today I got an email that looks like a form letter thanking me for my application and telling me they can not consider me for that position but will keep my resume bla bla. - I had applied for the job because she asked me to though.

I find her approach very strange for Switzerland - I'm about to call her up tomorrow to tell her I'd find it useful to actually talk about what kind of job I would like to have. I have never worked with headhunters who sent out formletters without any conversation in this country.

Should I run after her or just wait?
 

lawyerdad

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
24,389
Reaction score
10,459
Originally Posted by muelleran
Last week a lady from Boyden Excecutive Search contacted me to ask if I was interested in a specific position. I asked her how she knew my name and she told me that someone has recomended me, who she was not free to tell. She then sent me a job description for a job that was one step higher than I could in all probability get, but since she didn't talk much and an unknown person presumably had recomended me for something I sent my CV.
Today I got an email that looks like a form letter thanking me for my application and telling me they can not consider me for that position but will keep my resume bla bla. - I had applied for the job because she asked me to though.

I find her approach very strange for Switzerland - I'm about to call her up tomorrow to tell her I'd find it useful to actually talk about what kind of job I would like to have. I have never worked with headhunters who sent out formletters without any conversation in this country.

Should I run after her or just wait?

I have no idea what the norm is in Switzerland. In the U.S. most headhunters are whores. They're getting paid a commission for placements, so their interest is in getting you move regardless of whether it's really a good move for you or not. (Of course, this is a generalization - there are fine, ethical people in the headhunter biz, although in my experience they're the exception.) They also will lie to get a foot in the door - which from your perspective would mean getting your resume and sending it out. The "somebody recommended you but I can't tell you who" thing strikes me as b.s. Why would she not be able to tell you? Most likely, the "recommendation" came from somebody else she was bugging on a cold call, when she badgered them to give her the names of a few other people who might be interested in hearing about opportunities. The implicit threat being, "if you don't give me the names of a few new people I can bug, I'll keep calling and pestering you". Life insurance salespeople often work the same way.
Anyway, if you're going to work with her, you need to be very clear and firm in defining what you want and in defining the scope of her authority. Make clear you want her to get specific approval from you before she submits your name/resume to any prospective employer. (Otherwise she'll pimp your resume around willy-nilly, and it could very well get back to your current employer.) Also, before letting her submit your resume to anyone, find out what exactly they've told her about what they're looking for (so you can see if you even fit the profile - some headhunters will just send over whatever resumes they have, which helps nobody). Certainly find out precisely how, and from whom, she got your name. If she won't tell you, I'd conclude she's bullshitting you - not exactly something you want from someone you're going to work with.
And also, give some thought to what value she can really add. If you know what sort of position you're interested in, does she really have access to information about job openings you couldn't gather yourself with a bit of legwork? Keep in mind that the headhunter's commission can be substantial -- in the U.S. legal market, often in the range of 25% of the first year salary for the placement - and on the margin a potential employer has a strong financial incentive to choose the direct-application applicant who does not carry that surcharge, all else being equal.
 

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I have no idea what the norm is in Switzerland. In the U.S. most headhunters are whores. They're getting paid a commission for placements, so their interest is in getting you move regardless of whether it's really a good move for you or not. (Of course, this is a generalization - there are fine, ethical people in the headhunter biz, although in my experience they're the exception.) They also will lie to get a foot in the door - which from your perspective would mean getting your resume and sending it out. The "somebody recommended you but I can't tell you who" thing strikes me as b.s. Why would she not be able to tell you? Most likely, the "recommendation" came from somebody else she was bugging on a cold call, when she badgered them to give her the names of a few other people who might be interested in hearing about opportunities. The implicit threat being, "if you don't give me the names of a few new people I can bug, I'll keep calling and pestering you". Life insurance salespeople often work the same way.
Anyway, if you're going to work with her, you need to be very clear and firm in defining what you want and in defining the scope of her authority. Make clear you want her to get specific approval from you before she submits your name/resume to any prospective employer. (Otherwise she'll pimp your resume around willy-nilly, and it could very well get back to your current employer.) Also, before letting her submit your resume to anyone, find out what exactly they've told her about what they're looking for (so you can see if you even fit the profile - some headhunters will just send over whatever resumes they have, which helps nobody). Certainly find out precisely how, and from whom, she got your name. If she won't tell you, I'd conclude she's bullshitting you - not exactly something you want from someone you're going to work with.
And also, give some thought to what value she can really add. If you know what sort of position you're interested in, does she really have access to information about job openings you couldn't gather yourself with a bit of legwork? Keep in mind that the headhunter's commission can be substantial -- in the U.S. legal market, often in the range of 25% of the first year salary for the placement - and on the margin a potential employer has a strong financial incentive to choose the direct-application applicant who does not carry that surcharge, all else being equal.



Of course what you are saying makes perfect sense to me, the thing ist there are a few people out there who right this month could have recomended me to potential employers.
Yes, she could be a whore, but my 10 year experience with headhunters here is entirely different. "My" headhunter with whom I worked for many years does give me valuable advice and he knows the trends in the employment market.

In the case of the strange lady the job in question was a partnership position at a large international IT Consulting firm - these jobs are rarely advertised in public - so what can I do? This is a small country - there are those in the know and those who never hear about what's going on - For these jobs I can only hope that a guy in the know who thinks highly of me drops my name.
 

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
At least in the job description she gave me was a list of what our friends at this other consulting firm have in their akquisition pipeline - that's nice to know and pretty stupid to hand out to people...
 

lawyerdad

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
24,389
Reaction score
10,459
Originally Posted by muelleran
Of course what you are saying makes perfect sense to me, the thing ist there are a few people out there who right this month could have recomended me to potential employers.
Yes, she could be a whore, but my 10 year experience with headhunters here is entirely different. "My" headhunter with whom I worked for many years does give me valuable advice and he knows the trends in the employment market.

In the case of the strange lady the job in question was a partnership position at a large international IT Consulting firm - these jobs are rarely advertised in public - so what can I do? This is a small country - there are those in the know and those who never hear about what's going on - For these jobs I can only hope that a guy in the know who thinks highly of me drops my name.

Makes sense, sounds like you know what you're doing. Still, the whole anonymous recommendation thing would be a red flag for me. I might ask her flat-out "Did this person specifically say they did not want me to know they'd recommended me? Did they say why?" The only semi-legitimate explanation I can think of is that the recommendation came from someone who does not want the fact that they have been talking to a headhunter to become public knowledge . . .
Anyway, as long as you have your eyes open and don't let yourself be led by the nose by the headhunter - as too often happens with young professionals here in the States, I've found - I'm sure you'll be fine.
 

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
Thanks lawyerdad, I'll have a nice talk with her tomorrow.
 

globetrotter

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
20,607
Reaction score
400
I get asked by headhunters for recomendations all the time. very often, the headhunter has a specific list of things they are looking for, and they want to check out possible candidates, but as soon as they see you don't fit exactly, they drop you. sorry.
 

rnoldh

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Jul 24, 2006
Messages
16,909
Reaction score
2,999
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I have no idea what the norm is in Switzerland. In the U.S. most headhunters are whores.

But I'm not a Whore or a Pimp!

I know where you're coming from about headhunters. Reminds me of a little trick we used.

I was a headhunter briefly many years ago. I couldn't get through to the real big wigs and ultimate decision makers. An old hand (at recruiting) taught me a trick. This was before the Internet.

We would look up the Bio of the person we wanted to talk to. Usually a major law firm partner or CEO type. Then when we saw which college they went to, and hopefully which fraternity(if it could be determined). Then we would call their firm, and would say we were calling about a reference for one of their classmates or Fraternity Brothers. We'd say you remember, "Old bill, Princeton, 59 or some such B.S.".

It worked like a charm and I spoke to some real big wigs. Things have changed, and I don't know if it would work today.


BTW: Many years ago I lived at 39 Ave. Montoie in Lausanne. Nicest place I have ever lived! Is Lausanne pretty much a sister city of Geneva these days?
 

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
Originally Posted by globetrotter
I get asked by headhunters for recomendations all the time. very often, the headhunter has a specific list of things they are looking for, and they want to check out possible candidates, but as soon as they see you don't fit exactly, they drop you. sorry.

Well, that's the thing. Usually here in IT they don't. The headhunter I am actually working with is specifically looking for jobs that fit me. He is doing it now for the third time for me.

Talking about Switzerland there is a faily high percentage of people looking for jobs who don't read job ads. When they need a new job they call a headhunter who does the seaching for them. In times of high job availability it is essential for the local headhunters to have good relations with former employment seekers.
That's why it is so irritating for me that this lady might not work this way, because if she did cooperate the way it is customary here I could give her the names of two people who would have a high chance of getting this job and she could help me get a job that fits my profile. Approximately that would get her about 75 000 Franks faster than without cooperating.
 

muelleran

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2006
Messages
242
Reaction score
0
Originally Posted by rnoldh
But I'm not a Whore or a Pimp! I know where you're coming from about headhunters. Reminds me of a little trick we used. I was a headhunter briefly many years ago. I couldn't get through to the real big wigs and ultimate decision makers. An old hand (at recruiting) taught me a trick. This was before the Internet. We would look up the Bio of the person we wanted to talk to. Usually a major law firm partner or CEO type. Then when we saw which college they went to, and hopefully which fraternity(if it could be determined). Then we would call their firm, and would say we were calling about a reference for one of their classmates or Fraternity Brothers. We'd say you remember, "Old bill, Princeton, 59 or some such B.S.". It worked like a charm and I spoke to some real big wigs. Things have changed, and I don't know if it would work today. BTW: Many years ago I lived at 39 Ave. Montoie in Lausanne. Nicest place I have ever lived! Is Lausanne pretty much a sister city of Geneva these days?
Funny, that's pretty much what she did to me - she told our secretary that she wants to talk to me about a reference. Our secretary concluded from that that she must be a headhunter who wants to talk to me about a job. But what the hell?
 

Earthmover

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
586
Reaction score
0
I don't know much about headhunters outside of the US, but at the very least, I would make it very clear to her that your CV is not to be ever given out without your explicit permission to anyone else.
 

dah328

Distinguished Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2003
Messages
4,603
Reaction score
110
It's understood in the US that a headhunter will not reveal the source of the referral so lawyerdad's characterization of that practice as "b.s." is wrong unless the Swiss standard is precisely the opposite. On the other hand, in the US, no reputable headhunter would submit your resume/CV for a position without your consent. Reputable headhunters have an incentive to screw over neither applicants nor employers because long-standing relationships with top candidates and top firms are too important to jeopardize over any single placement. I've referred candidates to headhunters who have placed me in the past and have been referred to headhunters by acquaintances at other firms that have been happy with their work. That's how the business works.
 

StockwellDay

Distinguished Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
1,641
Reaction score
197
Let me try to clear up some misconceptions here. full disclosure: I'm a "headhunter" or a term that is more appropriate, a retained executive search professional. There are two different types of executive search. Retained executive search and contingency. From Wikipedia:
The industry is split into two distinct fields Retained Executive Search and Contingency Search. The defining difference is that the retained search firms will get paid a fee regardless of whether a successful placement is made. This prevents inappropriate candidates being pushed onto Hiring Organizations to ensure the search is successful. Contingency Search is usually associated with slightly lower level executive and specialist roles.
I work in retained search. Keep in mind that in retained search we are paid by the the employer, our client. We are paid regardless of completing the search. Therefore, we have no brokerage interest in the transaction. Typical contracts also stipulate that if the successful candidate resigns or is fired within 1 year of the search being completed we will replace the candidate on a best efforts basis for no fee. Therefore, it makes absolutely no sense for us to "push" someone into a job they won't be happy. They will leave and we will have failed our client and failed the candidate. Not only will we hurt our reputation as having poor consulting skills in regards to the candidate evaluation, but we will have to do another search for no fee. As wiki said, contingency search is typically for lower level positions. The contingency search professionals are paid upon completion search. They will not be the only headhunter working on the search and have more incentive to "push you through the process." This is typically the recruiter you deal with when you are looking for employment. Retained executive searchers typically reach out to you when you are gainfully employed. It's important to learn which type of search professional you are dealing with, thereupon you can better evaluate the professionalism of the process. As to Lawyerdad's comments about confidential referrals and red flags. This is standard practice in the industry and it protects people that help recruiters. Oftentimes you may know an individual who is quite well known w/in your industry, but you don't know personally -- but you know they would be a good candidate/source for the position you are being called. Conversely, you may have a relationship with the head of a business from which you are referring someone from, don't want to damage your relationship with that business, but would like to see the person you are referring have the opportunity to make a wise career move. The list goes on, I'm sure you could figure out other scenarios where confidentiality is very important to the referral process. Trust me, recruiters remember the people that are helpful and/or friendly. Don't be surprised that if you're a jerk on the phone to recruiters, your phone will eventually stop ringing. You'll be passed up for opportunities that are appropriate for your background down the line since no recruiter can honestly recommend to their client they hire a jerk. Additionally, recruiting for attorney's is a whole other world. If you check out the top (American) executive search firms (Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles, Korn/Ferry, Russell Reynolds) you'll see none of them have legal recruiting practices. My understanding is that this is a very difficult industry (recruiting attorneys) and that the attorney's get phone calls all the time and the professionalism is lacking within this recruiting sector. I can understand your dislike, however please be clear there is a stark difference between legal recruiters and retained executive search. As to the OP's original question... The recruiters manner of communication with you does sound odd. I suspect it is just a recruiter that is just not very good at her job, since your typical experience has been positive. Even when i find a potential candidate who is not appropriate for a certain position, I do my best to let them know with professionalism and respect. Who knows when that person might be the right fit for a position down the road, may be able to help you on another search, or may even be a client one day. Finally, in response to rhold about gaining access to the "decision makers," typically if you are straight forward in your request they will get back to you. No respectable retained search firm will use lies or deceit in the process. *Also, a funny note I should pass along. Throughout every industry the higher up the executive chain you go, the more helpful the executives are to recruiters. I don't think I've ever been spoken to rudely be a CEO or C-Level executive. Typically, they are happy to talk for 20 minutes or more and pass along referrals and talk about the state of the market. It's the lower level searches, like ones for Controllers, where you deal with are condescension and rudeness. Trust me, it's no mistake how these C-Level exec's get to where they are, besides hard work and intelligence. Treat everyone with respect in life, from your Executive Administrator to the CEO, you never know when that person will be able to come back and help you.
 

Bic Pentameter

Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2002
Messages
814
Reaction score
15
Originally Posted by StockwellDay
As to Lawyerdad's comments about confidential referrals and red flags. This is standard practice in the industry and it protects people that help recruiters. Trust me, recruiters remember the people that are helpful and/or just friendly. Don't be surprised if you're a jerk on the phone to recruiters that you'll be passed up for opportunities that are appropriate for your background down the line.


It is very obvious that you are a professional, Stockwell. I had heard this "Somebody told me to call you, but I can't tell you who" line several times before, and had always thought it didn't ring true. Even if this is standard practice in the industry to protect people to help recruiters, it also offers unscrupulous headhunters an easy way to call someone whose name they pull off of the Website under pretense.
 

StockwellDay

Distinguished Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
1,641
Reaction score
197
Originally Posted by Bic Pentameter
It is very obvious that you are a professional, Stockwell. I had heard this "Somebody told me to call you, but I can't tell you who" line several times before, and had always thought it didn't ring true. Even if this is standard practice in the industry to protect people to help recruiters, it also offers unscrupulous headhunters an easy way to call someone whose name they pull off of the Website under pretense.
Bic, I always tell people where I got their name, even if it is off a website. I don't see any downside to that. Also, while the person may be flattered that they were referred and thought of highly by a peer, I don't think it will make them more or less inclined to explore a job opportunity. If the person on the other end of the line is interested in the opportunity I'm presenting, i think that will stand on it's own merit. p.s. I did some serious editing above (to my original post in this thread). It should read much more clearly now.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

  • 1 - 4

    Votes: 30 3.7%
  • 5 - 10

    Votes: 141 17.3%
  • 11 - 20

    Votes: 265 32.5%
  • 21 - 30

    Votes: 129 15.8%
  • 31 - 40

    Votes: 70 8.6%
  • 41 - 50

    Votes: 48 5.9%
  • 51 - 60

    Votes: 25 3.1%
  • 61 - 70

    Votes: 22 2.7%
  • 71 - 80

    Votes: 17 2.1%
  • 81 - 90

    Votes: 7 0.9%
  • 91 - 100

    Votes: 9 1.1%
  • 100+

    Votes: 52 6.4%

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
429,029
Messages
9,227,242
Members
193,718
Latest member
toamivhari
Top