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Hold your nose, there's a headhunter in the room...

By MARTIN ELLIS Published 3rd Oct 2013
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I've been headhunting now for almost 8 years. Quite often I'm introduced and I get the sense that I may have just trodden in something I shouldn't .... It's clear that in the league table of popularity we come just below parking wardens, but ahead of politicians (but then EVERYBODY is ahead of politicians!).

Now I used to employ headhunters, and I've been headhunted, so I know they can be slow off the mark. But surely, in the days of social media, email, and openness, things have improved. Recently, I've made the deliberate attempt to find out....

In the last 4 weeks I have applied for 4 senior jobs. I have made certain that my real skills and experience were a good match for the jobs being advertised (why do headhunters advertise? That's the subject of my next blog!). Three jobs were advertised on LinkedIn and one on Total Jobs. The ads were well-written and named the headhunter in charge. I wrote a covering letter to each and sent along my CV. I sat ......... I waited ............. Nothing!

Not a sausage. Zippo. Zilch.

Now I didn't expect to get the job. I didn't know if I might get an interview. But I did expect an acknowledgement - even an auto acknowledgement would have done! You never know, if I had been courted properly, I might have seriously considered the positions. They were all senior and well paid.

But my beef is with the appalling name this gives my industry - and I can see it's deserved. This research has hardly been scientific, and it's hardly a massive sample size, but none from four is frankly way below acceptable.

What makes this worse is the UTTER GUFF these people put on their websites. They all mention "honesty". Most mention "fairness". They talk about "integrity" and "quality". They make promises, and that it's about "service, results, honesty and professionalism". These are surrounded by photographs of grinning idiots shaking hands and the like.

I think I'd better tread carefully for a moment. I live in a glass house. Have I been perfect with every candidate? Probably not. I have certainly acknowledged every applicant and candidate, and every candidate who has had a client interview has had a written explanation of what's going on. In 6 years, I will have missed somebody. For that, I'm sorry.

And I may be accused of entrapment. That's true to a point, but these roles were also very good, and had I been treated properly, I may have become engaged in the process. But I wasn't. I wasn't even sent away politely. I was ignored, and frankly, that's just not good enough - especially when it's so easy to cut and paste a response off for free.

Except for the issue of entrapment, I am tempted to name, names. I also accept that one of them may have had a fire, or lost the file, or whatever. but four out of four is scandalous. I'm beginning to sound like my grandfather, so at this stage I will stop. I would like to think I have picked the only four headhunters who work like this - but I'm sorry to say, I'm probably wrong.


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259 weeks ago, by Mitch
Up until a couple of years ago, I used to occasionally do the same thing - apply for recruitment jobs making sure the CV I sent mirrored the job requirements.

Some were to agencies and some were to inhouse recruitment/HR departments. I think the response rate was less than 20%.

One agency who'd advertised a contact inhouse role that I was especially suitable for, admitted (when I called them) that they had a candidate out on 2nd interview and didn't want to jeopardise any possible offer. They were one of several agencies working the role.

When I asked how that was helping the company find the best person, they hung up.

I just felt lucky I was doing it for research and/or fun.
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