We all know the traditional job-hunting strategy: Write your resume, read the job postings, fill out applications, send out resumes and spread the word that you’re looking. Go on as many interviews as you can, be able to explain where you see yourself in five years and what your biggest weakness is, and wait for an e-mail or text. Somebody will contact you. Eventually.

In today’s dollars that strategy is worth, oh, about zero. That’s the cost of using LinkedIn, some job boards, and replying to recruiters you don’t know who don’t know you. In the old days, you hired a resume writer and printed your resume on Crane’s Bond. Had it printed on a 2,540 dpi Linotronic. Maybe you stapled that baby to the top of a box of pizza and sent it to a prospective (and hopefully hungry) employer using the Next Day Singing Gorilla Delivery Service. And oh, yeah, you read the number one best-selling job hunting guide written by that famous human resources expert who has a Ph.D. in Counseling Science, earns $125,000 filing resumes for Superfluous Systems, Inc., and gets paid whether you win a new job or not. You know the guy — his grandfather invented the Traditional Job Hunting Strategy everyone uses.

Hey, it’s a desperate market. You do what you’ve gotta do. You spend what you’ve gotta spend. How about $30,000?

Thirty grand!? (And you thought you were spending a lot on that Magic Keyword Resume!) Who could possibly know anything about matching people up with jobs that’s worth $30,000?

Headhunters get paid a lot to be right

That’s what companies routinely pay headhunters. If you make $100,000, the headhunter earns around $30,000 to apply his methods and techniques to find you and match you up with a client who needs to hire a very talented new employee to take care of some very important work. Even if your salary is $30,000, the headhunter’s fee will be about $10,000. Not peanuts.

If you’re lucky enough to get a call from a headhunter, all this costs you nothing, obviously. The employer pays. But few people ever hear from a headhunter. Why? For the same reason very few job hunters ever get a call back from an employer with a job offer. Your work skills have to be right on the money, or a headhunter will never bother with you.

Even when the headhunter calls, you’re still competing with other candidates he or she is presenting to the same client. The point is, you don’t need a headhunter. What you need is to understand and be able to use the headhunter’s approach and techniques — that $30,000 strategy.

The headhunter’s strategy is so powerful and worth so much because the headhunter has a point of view that’s radically different from that of the typical job hunter. The headhunter is totally focused on making a perfect match between the candidate and the work. There is nothing “shotgun” about his approach. There is no luck. No reliance on any rules. What matters is what the client needs to make her business wildly successful — and the headhunter sets out to find and deliver it in the form of the perfect worker.

This headhunter will tell you what distinguishes the headhunter’s approach — and his point of view — from that of the typical job hunter.

The following advice is free. It’s still worth about $30,000, though, because it will get you started on how to be your own headhunter.

Getting a job vs. doing the job

First off, don’t go looking for a job. You wouldn’t know it to look at the want ads and job boards, but companies aren’t in business to give out jobs. When you send your resume to someone you don’t know who doesn’t know you, you’re looking for a handout. You’re wasting your time and the manager’s.

Instead, start by understanding how your skills can profit a particular business. If you can’t explain this to a prospective employer, why should he or she hire you?

Most job hunters project the attitude “I’m looking for a job” rather than “I’m here to do the work you need to have done”. This can kill you in an interview. There is a big difference between looking to get a job, and offering to do a job. A good headhunter has a tremendous edge because he selects and prepares the candidate who can walk into the meeting with the employer and do the job, right there in the interview.

Obviously, this takes some research. Headhunters do a lot of research, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Unlike most job hunters, headhunters don’t sit by the phone, waiting for someone to call back on a resume. The headhunter seeks to control all aspects of the deal, so that every candidate he submits hits the ground running in the interview and is desirable enough to hire.

Make doing the job in the interview your goal. The interview isn’t an experiment or a fact-finding mission. It’s not where you go to “learn more about the job,” even though that’s how most job hunters view it. Don’t go on an interview unless you are prepared to control it, and to demonstrate your ability to do the work.

Next: Job Hunting Skills