Executive Recruitment Agency

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 - Executive Recruitment Agency

Executive Recruitment Agency


I got asked a question recently, on which I will give my own thoughts below, but first I’d like your answer to the question: What’s the difference between an Executive Recruitment Agency and a Head Hunter?

I asked the Executive job seeker what their answer was, to which they replied: “I don’t know, I’m confused!”

As someone who runs a recruitment agency and a Professional CV Writing business, I am not surprised! In fact, I conclude that we as all an employment industry – recruiters, head hunters, HR professionals and even the Government – make it extra difficult for job seekers to understand:

  • We excessivley use jargon: what’s the difference between a Headhunter and an Executive Recruitment Agency; or Job Centre+ and a recruitment agency?
  • We expect you to know it all: on average, most people apply for a new job every 3+ years; we deal with it on a daily basis
  • If that doesn’t confuse you, we overwhelm you with paperwork and tests: psych analysis or a jobs board?

Is it therefore that job seekers at all levels, let alone Executive Jobs seekers, are confused?

How are recruiters paid?

To strip away this confusion, once you know what you want to do and know that the market is recruiting for that business requirement, I then suggest that to distinguish between different types of recruiters particularly in the executive sector, that job seekers must discover how that agency or claimed head hunter is paid:

  • Recruitment Agency: generally paid after the placement is made, ie: once the person starts working. Often operating competitivly against other agencies to make a placement
  • Head Hunter: paid part of their fee (upto 50%) on receiving a brief, and the other part at key points throughout the exercise/on fulfillment

Executive employment

Two years ago, I coached an executive through an executive job search. Up until he engaged us through our Executive CV Service, he had applied for 50 jobs, had attended 15 interviews, and received no job offers. He wanted to work in the Middle East/Asia, and as a result had been doing a lot of flying to the region for second and third interviews, but never been able to close a new executive position.

I chatted him through his experiences so far, and asked how these claimed “head hunters” that he had been dealing with so far had been paid? For not one of the jobs that he had applied for or been head hunted for, could he tell me. One of the agencies who up until this point he had considered quite productive and with whom he had a great relationship called him during one of our calls. We terminated our call, on the premise that he ask them how they were paid by their clients.

Five minutes later, he called me back and explained that he now realised that they were just a recruitment agency. All the jobs that he had been put through with them, they had been in a competive situation with at least two other agencies on.

I explained to him hence, that not only was the employers final decision swayed by the strength of him as a candidate/business solution, and specifically at the executive level with Social Fit, but also the relationship and fee’s of that recruiter. In other words, he might not have been rejected because he wasn’t the right or best candidate, but at least in part because of what that employer thought of that recruiter.

We changed his job search methodology, he made 5 more job applications – some direct to companies that were obviously in need of his business skills – and he got employed 3months later.

There are no “Executive Recruitment Agencies”

My answer to the question What’s the difference between an Executive Recruitment Agency and a Head Hunter is hence: How are they paid?

  • Recruitment Agency: contingency fee paid mostly after placement, often in competition with others
  • Head Hunter: paid a large part of fee on taking brief, never in competition

Effectively, an “Executive Recruitment Agency is just marketing spin, and no more. Yes, they may focus on jobs over £50,000, but the simple answer is:

  • They are paid on placements
  • They may be in competition with others
  • Hence your chances of getting that job are often resultantly reduced

What I am certainly not saying, is never apply via a recruitment agency. But when you do, recognise how they are paid and how that affects your chances of employment, and assess where they are in the recruitment process before putting forward your Executive CV.

In doing so, it will save you a lot of time, effort, hassle, confusion – and reduce your job search time scale.

Good Luck!

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