Three years ago, I found myself in need a of a new job.
It’d been a long time coming. I’d spent the prior 9 years working for a 100 year-old company. While I learned a lot there and cherished the people I worked with, a change was long overdue.
It’s hard to make a change when work feels like a 2nd home, and in total transparency – another reason was that I was afraid to. One issue was that I’d made a decision to never go to college. I had my reasons for this but won’t get into them now because they’re not what this article is about. And sure, there’s loads of propaganda out there about why degrees are worthless and there are loads of people out there that make more than 6 figures without them, but the truth is besides the knowledge and friendships you gain, a college education is necessary for just about anyone that thinks they might ever need a job.
Luckily for me, all my hopes and dreams pointed toward some type of business development job. Many biz dev roles do require degrees, but many still don’t. And unlike the customer service and management jobs I’d previously held, you’re compensated based on your performance. I love to be challenged and make money, so I imagined it would be something I’d be good at.
After having experienced management, I didn’t feel driven to be in a supervisory position again, but I did LOVE one part of it — finding and building a team.
Helping someone to get a job or promotion is so positive in many ways and is highly rewarding in my opinion. Searching profiles and interviewing, and learning about new people is an adventure I live for. Recruiting was starting to seem to be a logical next step.
But what about sales or business development? A lot of people think recruiting is sales. I used to think the same thing, too. I mean, it certainly has its similarities. It can be worked remotely, it’s a goal driven job, there are lots of metrics and numbers, calling, texting and emailing strangers. Some people also find us annoying. The hunt in either case is exciting – another reason I love the job.
So what exactly is the job?
I’ll keep it really simple. As headhunter or recruiter, I assist companies, usually large organizations, to fill roles for which they aren’t able to (for a plethora of reasons) dedicate full time resources toward searching for hard to find, talented people. Most of the people I work with are entry level sales management and above, all the way up to executive level, and are highly specialized within a niche industry.
It’s hunting; it’s matchmaking.
I make people aware of opportunities, then I get to know them until I feel sure that they want to be presented to clients and that the clients will want to meet them, too. Some people call it sales, but it’s not really sales.
When it comes to a career change, I’ve learned that you can’t sell someone on applying for a job, or even taking it after they’ve been through three interviews for that matter. People have to want the job, and in turn the employer has to want them back. It’s complicated because it’s a life decision. It’s not like selling something to someone that they’ll spend a few bucks on then forget about as it sits in their garage or closet forever starting just a few months after they buy it.
After I help someone make a job change, it’ll affect their life and their family’s lives every day for a long time afterwards. It can affect every aspect from their ability to pay their bills, to their health, to where and how they live. As for my client, it can be the difference between the success or failure of their team.
Salespeople and what they promote can have this effect, too, depending on what their commodity is. But a recruiter aka headhunter should never be confused- we work with people, not things.
If you work with a recruiter, you should know a few things, too. For one, we are not job slingers. When I work with someone and I haven’t talked to him for a month or two, then I get a random text like this:
What you got? I saw some new jobs on your site.
That text maybe appropriate in some situations, but it does not compel me to recommend you to a paying client seeking high quality folks for their teams. Yes, we’re friendly, but let’s keep it professional. And it’s professional to greet someone with a “Hello” before you start asking for info.
Another thing is that you shouldn’t be combative when a recruiter candidly says you don’t qualify for a job. They’re not telling you that to make you miss out on the best opportunity of your life. They’re telling you that to save you and them from wasting time applying for a job that they know; through training, experience and and understanding of the client; will never work for you.
On the other hand, there are the folks that I’ve helped apply and interview for multiple jobs over the course of months until – finally, we get them a job they love! I consider them to be friends that I’m glad to guide and serve. There are great people out there that have trouble when it comes to finding “The One.” I truly believe they deserve all the help I can give.
And — there are the other recruiters I work with. The ones that teach me, the ones I share my experiences with: they are also friends, and it takes true teamwork to make matches as complicated as the ones we work on every day.
As a headhunter, I continually learn so much about myself and others. I am constantly reminded of the need to be patient, not judgmental but discerning, have fun, and be disciplined all at once.
At least a few times while in this job I’ve said to myself, “Holy smokes, I see why most people quit being a recruiter not long after starting.” It’s a bipolar job to say the least and even more so as the way we communicate changes — some days my LinkedIn and phone won’t stop blowing up, on others I feel like I call and text every qualified person I can find without a soul being willing to answer. One day I made 100 phone calls and did not one meaningful conversation. Not even a rejection. It was like sending smoke signals into oblivion. But I’ve learned that those hours of seemingly spinning my wheels can pay off, even if it’s 6 months or a year later.
I admire people that have been in the field for years and years. There’s something to be said for their stick-to-it-iveness.
Headhunting experts say you have to be a recruiter for 2 years before you’re no longer a rookie. I’m just coming up on that date, and am more excited than ever. It may not be a job for everybody, and some might even wish that it were a job that didn’t exist. But I’m glad it does, and I know it works for me.