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GUEST COMMENT: Next time a headhunter calls, beware – they are only given the worst jobs to fill

Don't take the call

Here’s some advice to apply the next time that a head-hunter calls you up with a mouth-watering, dream role: “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”.

The thing about truisms is that they tend to be true.

There’s no way that a truly great opportunity requires a recruiter to sell it, placement fees and all. The only reason why he or she is touting around an apparently fantastic job is because their client has tried, and failed, to fill it already through their own resources.

The worst thing you can do is to jump ship to a new position and realise that your old role was much better. And in my opinion, a decent job can be distilled down to three things:

1. Work you enjoy

2.  People you can stand to see every day, for long stretches of time

3.  Decent compensation

If you can’t tick those three boxes, it’s probably not a job worth having.

Employers, on the other hand, know that this is what we’re all looking for. They also generally know very well if they can’t offer at least one of those things.

Perhaps the company has no money to pay its people adequately. Or maybe the line manager is unfireable, for whatever reason (fixed contract, having majority equity in the firm, sleeping with the boss) but is also impossible to work for; minor personality disorders, anger issues or sheer incompetence.

Since HR know that they are selling a pup, they won’t try to fill the role through word of mouth. After all, who would recommend a role to a friend if they knew it was basically a fate worse than death?

The logical conclusion of this is that roles only get referred externally once employers have exhausted all of their internal options, i.e. word of mouth. In other words, they are only willing to pay somebody 30% of your base salary as a fee after they have tried everything else first.

So when your phone rings and it’s a recruitment consultant describing the role of a lifetime, treat it with a pinch of salt. You can be almost certain that at least one of the three criteria above as seriously lacking.

The author has worked in a number of roles across asset management and speaks from experience

AUTHORAnonymous Insider Comment
  • Ja
    24 June 2012

    I disagree. Some time ago I read a newspaper article which claimed that only around half of all job vacancies in the UK were actually advertised. This writer's assertion that "headhunters are only given the worst jobs to fill" would therefore seem to have a grain of truth in it, especially as recruiting is a costly business and positions can increasingly be filled by other means such as word of mouth, recommendations and even social networking.

    On the flip side we are obviously very much in an employers' market right now with far more candidates seeking jobs than actual jobs so employers can afford to be very specific over who they employ, and in those circumstances using a headhunter is probably the best option.

  • AM
    19 June 2012

    You should certainly fear being oversold..but what a load of sh*t this article is. Not worth any further comment really.

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