It is very likely that the majority of people don’t really know what headhunters, search firms or recruiters, as they are now more commonly referred to, actually do. In your job search it is important that you are known by recruiters because they do actively search for candidates to fill positions for companies. The misconception is in thinking that that these people are going to assist you in your job search or provide you access to companies. This is completely the opposite of what they do.
Recruiters work for the employer and NOT the job seeker. As a job seeker or potential candidate, you cannot pay a search firm or retain the services of a recruiter unless you need to hire someone. They are retained by and paid by the company/employer. After they refer a candidate to their client/company in need of filling a position and that person is officially employed, the recruiter is paid for this service. Their average fee is approximately 30% of the first year’s salary.
As a job seeker, you could very well be the next potential candidate on a long list of candidates that the recruiter is looking for to fill a position so make sure you are on their list. Never turn down an opportunity to interview with a search firm. You won’t be considered if you’re not on their list. But remember, the recruiter is not working for you so don’t expect to hear back from any of them unless they think you are a potential candidate for one of their clients.