Building relationships with recruiters may expose you to career opportunities that you might not learn about otherwise. Most employers don’t advertise the positions they hire recruiters to help fill, which are typically a firm’s most senior and highest-paying. And search executives usually promote their services to employers, not job hunters.
Identifying and connecting with recruiters who specialize in your area of expertise can be very worthwhile — though candidates should remember that recruiters are paid by the employer, and will put that employer’s interests first. Such niche recruiters aren’t always easy to find, so job seekers might need to use creative tactics.
Here are some ways of identifying recruiters who specialize in your area of expertise.
Start by tapping your own network. Many senior executives work with recruiters at some point in their careers as a candidate or client. Ask the most experienced professionals in your network to refer you to the recruiters they know.
Other sources are people you know in your industry or at organizations that interest you. Find out which recruiting firms their employers use. Don’t be discouraged if the list you compile is short. In certain niche markets, there are recruiters who pretty much work with all big players, so you’ll typically hear the same name several times.
A good way to stay on a recruiter’s radar screen is to suggest names of prospects you know for jobs the recruiter is seeking to fill, but for which you don’t qualify. Be sure to offer quality referrals because inappropriate recommendations can reflect poorly on you.
Scan recruiter directories. Your local library may have these resources available at no charge.
RileyGuide.com, a free online job-search resource, has a listing of recruiter directories, some free to users online, such as Oya’s Directory of Recruiters, among others. Most fee-based directories are more up-to-date and offer better search options.
Kennedy Information Inc. publishes RecruiterRedbook.com, the online database version of its book “The Directory of Executive Recruiters 2007-2008.” Both cost $59.95 and list 16,500 recruiters at more than 5,700 search firms. The database comes as an annual subscription. Kennedy, based in Peterborough, N.H., also publishes SelectRecruiters.com, offering a downloadable spreadsheet, handy for mass mailing a resume to recruiters, for a one-time fee of $1 per spreadsheet and a minimum payment of $30. (Kennedy is a business partner of CareerJournal.com.)
BlueSteps.com, from the Association of Executive Search Consultants, includes a database of more than 4,000 recruiters from its member firms, along with other features. Access to the database costs $299 for two years, among other pricing options.
You can also search for recruiters’ profiles online. Many recruiters have profiles on networking sites such as LinkedIn.com, Ecademy.com and Doostang.com. To find them, do a keyword search or ask fellow members for referrals.
LinkedIn.com, for instance, carries about 90,000 recruiter profiles and most list a specialty. It’s free to join and search the site, though other features require paid membership. To find recruiters’ profiles, click on the “advanced search” tool at the top of the home page for members. In the Industry category, select “corporate services,” then choose “staffing and recruiting.” Enter a keyword, such as the recruiter specialty you’re seeking, and then hit “search.”
Message boards may have postings that relate to specialists in your search area. Check career-networking sites. In addition, job hunters can seek recruiter referrals on boards hosted by their trade association, professional society or alma mater.
Members of Netshare.com, a networking Web site for executives, frequently post queries for referrals on its discussion boards. (Netshare is a business partner of CareerJournal.com.) Netshare, a membership organization based in Novato, Calif., costs $40 a month to $360 a year to join. In addition to career-related groups, job hunters can seek recruiter referrals on boards hosted by their trade association, professional society or alma mater.
Remember to read the business press. Recruiters often are quoted in news media. If you read about one who interests you, type the recruiter’s name into a search engine to find his or her contact information.
News stories announcing executive changes can be another source of recruiter leads. They often mention the search firm a company has hired to find a replacement.
Check trade or industry groups for referrals. Many recruiters belong to an association in their specialty. These groups may include a roster of members on their Web sites. If you join, you’ll likely have opportunities to network with recruiter members.
Call top employers in your industry. Dial the main number and request to be transferred to the human-resources department. Then ask the HR employee who answers which search firm the company uses. But this tactic is likely a shot in the dark, as the employee might only give the information if the company was working with a recruiting firm on a search at the time.