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Recruiters often rely heavily on online tools to hire candidates when they should be out meeting applicants, writes Nick Corcodilos. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Ask the Headhunter: 2 truths you should know about your job search

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


A reader asked some related questions that I think reveal two important truths about job hunting. Before I even get to the questions, here are the “truths” to keep in mind:

  1. Job hunters can’t rely on headhunters or recruiters to find them a job.
  2. People pursue the wrong jobs merely because the jobs are posted.

Now let’s explore why these are two mistakes you should avoid.

Question: Is it more effective to use a headhunter in today’s market? Why or why not? And what can you do — as a headhunter — that the average person couldn’t while job hunting?

Nick Corcodilos: Job hunters can’t rely on headhunters to find them a job because they can’t hire headhunters at all. Only companies hire headhunters.

Headhunters don’t take calls from job hunters. That’s just not our business. Our clients pay us to find the workers they need. We’re given very specific assignments that require us to go look for the right people — not to find jobs for people.

If I spent my time talking to job hunters who call me, I’d never have time to fill any jobs. That’s why good headhunters are not likely to return your calls and emails.

Most people who want someone to find them a job wind up working through employment agencies, which will plaster your resume all over kingdom come and hope that a company will call them to interview you. They earn a fee if you’re hired, but because the odds are so small that such a random “hit” will happen, you — the job hunter — wind up wasting your time. That’s no way to job hunt.

There’s no mystery, though, to “doing it like a headhunter” yourself. Please see “Be Your Own Headhunter.”

Question: How has job hunting changed over the last 10 years?

Nick Corcodilos: It has changed because people have been seduced by the idea that you can apply for hundreds of jobs instantly by clicking your keyboard and blasting out your resume to all of them. (See “There Aren’t 400 Jobs For You.”)

Job postings are so readily available and the process of applying is so easy that people don’t always stop and think what they’re applying for or why. They really want to believe someone is going to hand them a job because they filled out an online form or emailed a resume.

But here’s the reality: Employers hire people they know and people referred to them by people they trust. Again and again, surveys suggest that somewhere between 40 percent and 70 percent of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts.

I believe the main reason job boards stay in business is because they are supported by HR departments that spend billions of dollars of companies’ money every year on fruitless job ads — when they should get out of their offices and off their duffs and go meet people they could be recruiting.

HR departments operate this way because they can defend it. “We ran ads on all the big job sites. It’s not our fault we couldn’t find good people or enough of them!” So the chairman of the board throws her hands up in the air and says, “Well, if they used all the big-name job sites, I guess it’s not HR’s fault. They did their job. There’s a talent shortage!”

But HR did not do its job. HR’s job is not to run ads and job postings. It’s to go find, entice, seduce, cajole, recruit and hire great people — not to process incoming resumes and LinkedIn profiles. (See “Talent Crisis: Managers who don’t recruit.”) Personal contacts are just as important for employers to cultivate as they are for job seekers.

Why does candidate A get hired, while B doesn’t? The answer is simple almost every time: Candidate A used a good inside contact, then demonstrated in the interview how he was going to do the job profitably for the employer. Candidate B relied on sending out resumes, filling out automated forms, and sitting by the phone waiting for a call.

So the second important truth about job hunting is that people pursue the wrong jobs, and too many of them, just because they’re there.

What’s changed in job hunting is that today we’re fed the fallacy that it’s easy to apply for loads of jobs quickly. It’s not. Finding the right job and the employer who sees your value to its specific challenges is still a lot of hard work that requires careful selection of opportunities and diligent cultivation of insiders who can help you.

Dear Readers: What are your important truths about why it’s hard to find a job today?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2018 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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