I was just reading this article on CareerJournal about using a headhunter – a recruiter who tries to find people with specialized experience to fit a certain job a company is looking to fill. The article advised against ever contacting headhunters for strategy consulting jobs:
Very rarely do search professionals — or headhunters — assist candidates in need of jobs. Instead, their clients are the companies that pay them to find highly qualified people for specific openings. “When companies hire a search firm, it’s to find people they can’t find — typically people who work for other companies” who aren’t necessarily looking for new opportunities, says R. Gaines Baty, an executive recruiter in Dallas.
Why not contact them anyway? Because a lot of the ones willing to help you find a position use tactics that will end up hurting you. Some just accept your resume and never talk to you again, leaving you with no clue what they’ve done on your behalf. Others aren’t careful, and can tip off your current employer that you’re planning to leave – by sending them your resume. Others will just send your resume to anyone and everyone, and then claim a commission if you later get a job with them, even if you end up doing all the legwork.
The one benefit to waiting for them to contact you is that they’re more likely to be actually interested in you for a specific position. The problem? Often the unscrupulous ones are just calling as many people as they can, without a real interest in you or what job fits you best. The two big rules you need to follow are:
1) Make sure you find out something about them from someone you trust before you use them, preferably someone who has used that headhunter themselves.
2) Make it very clear that they do not have your permission to send out a resume to anyone without your explicit permission – and limit the number of employers you grant permission for them to send it to.
You want someone taking the time to do a specialized search for you, not a resume dump. You can do that yourself, and the random employers you’d be contacting are more likely to be hiring if they don’t have to pay a finder’s fee.
Discuss this in the Free the Drones Forums.