My headhunter is competing with me!

My headhunter is competing with me!
Share

In the August 20, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader is confused about how a headhunter operates.

Question

headhunterIs it an ethical or typical practice that a recruiting agency submits more than one person for the same position? A headhunter contacted me about a management role in information security. I went in for the interview first, and while following up with the headhunter afterwards I did a bit of a brain dump about the way it went and what their personalities were like. As I was telling the recruiter my experience, I heard her clicking away at the keyboard and instantly I was thinking who is helping whom? So I asked, are you submitting someone else, and she said yes, the agency was, but she was not personally. The information I shared was used to help the next person they sent to interview after me.

It seems there is a conflict of interest and cannibalization when you send two people for the same position.

Nick’s Reply

That’s exactly how recruiting agencies (headhunters) work. Unless this is some unusual situation where you are paying the agency a fee to get placed (Please don’t ever do that!), the agency’s customer is the employer, not you. The employer pays a fee to get a job filled.

On a typical assignment a headhunter will submit several candidates to an employer, not because the headhunter is gambling, but because the client wants several candidates from which to choose. The goal is to fill the job, not to get you a job. Even if this is an employee-fee agency, I doubt your agreement with the agency prohibits them from submitting other candidates anyway. But at your level, it’s safe to guess this is a traditional employer-fee deal.

One headhunter, several candidates

Because this is how the business works, there’s nothing unethical about it. An agency will use whatever information is available to help them get one of their candidates hired, including anything you told them during your debriefing. When you think about it this way, there’s no cannibalization or conflict of interest. The objective is to fill the job with a candidate, any candidate.

I wouldn’t hold it against the recruiter, but in the future I would refrain from telling her anything that might help another candidate from the firm to compete against you. Don’t compete with yourself or with the headhunter’s other candidates.

How the headhunter gets paid

This reminds me of a learning experience I had when I first started headhunting. It illustrates how headhunters get paid. I submitted a candidate to a company and they hired him without telling me. When I complained, they said they had received the same candidate from another search firm that was paid the fee. I was livid. My boss sat me down and explained the rules. I learned my lesson. Headhunters don’t have any exclusive control over a candidate. (See How long does the headhunter control me?)

When I confronted the candidate I had “lost,” he sheepishly admitted he’d already interviewed at the same company in another department. Did he behave unethically? I’m not sure about that, because his goal was to get a job. Did he know he was putting me in competition with another headhunter? Let’s call it an error of omission. Sure, he should have told me, but not for the reason you might think. In this case, the candidate was lucky. He might have gotten rejected for both jobs if the company realized it was interviewing him through two sources at almost the same time, because employers don’t like getting into the middle of fee fights between headhunters. If I’d started a legal battle for that fee, I would have lost — but the company’s lawyers probably would have advised that the employer stop dealing with both search firms!

I became more careful about submitting candidates, and always asked whether they’d already talked to company X.

Understand headhunters

I’d have a talk with the recruiter. Decide whether you trust her. Ask her to explain how the firm operates. If they’re going to refer you for another position, ask whether you’ll have competition from other candidates from the same firm. Keep in mind that even if you’re the headhunter’s only candidate, you’ll face competition from other candidates anyway.

There’s nothing you can do but decline the interview or avoid headhunters altogether, but why would you do that? More important, now that you’ve been rejected by that employer, and now that you know other headhunters at the agency work on similar jobs, ask about other opportunities they may be working on. Optimize your chances of getting placed by learning how headhunters work. But please remember that the agency’s business is to fill a job — not to find you one.

Additional resources

I know you’re frustrated. This is why I tell job seekers not to rely too much on headhunters! These articles might be helpful:

Headhunters find people, not jobs

Why do headhunters act like this?

If you need in-depth advice about headhunters, please check my PDF book, How to Work With Headhunters — and how to make headhunters work for you.

Hope it goes better next time!

Have you ever had a rude awakening when working with a headhunter? Do the rules of this game confuse you? What would you like to know about how headhunters operate?

: :

Share

Unemployment 3.7%, slow-down in hiring up 84%

Unemployment 3.7%, slow-down in hiring up 84%
Share

hiring

For a flat fee, an employer that’s hiring can get over 9 million resumes from ZipRecruiter. That’s great news, because with unemployment in the U.S. at record lows (3.7% in July 2019), employers need more job applicants!

Not. Actually, employers are drowning in resumes and job applicants.

News I want you to use

The HCM Technology Report says Indecisive Hiring Managers Cause Employers to Lose Talent. Do ya think???

“In 2018, hiring managers took 33 days to make an offer after interviewing a candidate. That’s an 84 percent increase compared to 2010. The extended timeframe led to a 16 percent reduction in accepted offers.”

What changed in 8 years? An employer can get over 9 million resumes for a few bucks.

And you wonder why hiring managers take forever to decide whether to hire you? More jobs stay vacant longer because HR and hiring managers are so overwhelmed with wrong job applicants that they can’t decide who are the good ones.

What hiring slow-down means to job seekers

  • You need to account for poor management when you interview for a job.
  • You should avoid the cattle call of the job boards.

What this means to employers

HCM says:

“Companies that encourage decisive behavior by hiring managers reduce time-to-fill by 17 percent.”

“Hiring managers should spend more time engaging with candidates. This is critical… because candidates trust hiring managers four times as much as they trust recruiters.”

Maybe HR departments should turn off the fire hose of resumes and teach hiring managers how to hire.

There’s lots more news you can use in the HCM Technology Report.

How long did it take to get hired or rejected by the last employer that interviewed you? Did the hiring manager seem to know what they were doing?

: :

Share

Age 70, working and job hunting again

Share

In the August 13, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader fends off age discrimination.

Question

ageI am 70 years old and still actively working. I have been a consultant for an energy company since early this year, serving in an interim role. The company had a disastrous last year. I was brought in to help turn some of this around in the first quarter and “stand in” until a full-time person arrived. This was to have been a 4-5 month assignment; I am still here. I know I will not be brought on because of my age and I accept this.

I have started searching again, now that the assignment is drawing to a close. I had a recruiter locate me on Monster.com and ask for my “full” resume, which I sent. Later in the day I received a text asking for “your DOB.” I responded “16 July,” to which I received a note saying, “Before I submit your resume to my client I need the year.”

I told her to remove me from her database and thanked her for bringing ageism into play. Is there anything I should have done? Just because I am 70 doesn’t mean I’m senile or moving around using a walker!

Thank you for your column. Even in my “advanced age,” I get what you teach.

Nick’s Reply

I collect stories from people who continue to work well into their 60s, 70s and even 80s. Thanks for yours! They all have one thing in common: They are forthright and spirited.

The age question

No recruiter needs your date of birth (DOB) for any reason I can think of, so I’m glad you told that one to take a hike. But please consider that if you’re going to swim in shark-infested waters, you’re likely to get bitten. Monster.com and its ilk are thick with recruiters like the one that found you. It’s up to you to avoid risky waters.

You could be discriminated against anyway, but job hunting online makes it even more likely a person will be rejected due to their age. The impersonal, rapid-fire Q&A that recruiters can do via e-mail, chat and texts with eager job seekers makes it easier to discriminate.

So, no, there’s nothing else you should have done. You avoided wasting your time further. If you expect to get hired because of your qualifications, then it’s up to you to control how a recruiting exchange occurs.

Show them the green

The only way I know to test a recruiting pitch is to expect the recruiter to evaluate you for what you can do to make the employer more successful. That’s also how you will get past biases. In the case of age, you want to arrange it so you can show them the green — how you will benefit their business — before they get distracted by the grey of your hair or your birth date. (See Age Discrimination: Help me market my dad!)

You don’t say how you’ve gotten your jobs during the past ten years. Whatever it is, keep doing it. My guess is that you rely on your reputation and abilities, not on random queries. Don’t be distracted by recruiters demanding to know your age. Fast-paced, high-volume, automated online recruiting doesn’t permit you to communicate the information that will get you interviewed and hired. That requires a one-to-one dialogue.

So ask yourself, no matter who is recruiting you, do they take time to talk with you about the job and about how — exactly — you might be able to help do the job profitably for the employer?

If the recruiter declines a substantive discussion about those two topics, you know you’re not being recruited. It’s just a cold call that’s not likely to go anywhere.

Personal contacts

If a recruiter indicates they don’t really know anything about you, don’t waste your time because that’s not really a recruiting call. I strongly suggest you rely on your personal contacts – and develop more of them – for your job search. Here’s a four-step outline for how to leverage this: Ask The Headhunter in a nutshell.

You’ve been doing this long enough that you probably know everything in that article. I just want to remind you that it works, and that the likes of Monster.com don’t.

Are you still working in your 60s, 70s or later (hopefully by choice)? How do you do it? How do you handle queries from recruiters? Have you encountered age discrimination? What can we do about it?

: :

Share

At last: HR gets an upgrade!

At last: HR gets an upgrade!
Share

HROur good buddies across the pond at BBC News have revealed HR’s newest weapon against to help job candidates get hired. (Oops.)  Yep — HR has gotten an upgrade! Recruiting robots!

News I want you to use

Read it on BBC News: Meet Tengai, the job interview robot who won’t judge you

If this seems far-fetched, some employers in the U.S. are already using robots to interview you on your mobile-device camera — and then other robots (algorithms) watch your interview video to decide whether you will “proceed to the next step.”

Look, Ma! No hands!

A couple of years ago, we covered a U.S. company the BBC references — “HireVue, a US-based video platform that enables candidates to be interviewed at any time of day and uses algorithms to evaluate their answers and facial expressions.”

Look, Ma! No hands! human HR managers! Or you could just Tell HR you don’t talk to the hand.

Heads up! Like it or not, you’re going to encounter recruiter bots. Maybe you already have. 

: :

Share

Should I extort a salary raise out of my boss?

Should I extort a salary raise out of my boss?
Share

In the August 6, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader wants to use a job offer to get a raise.

Question

A competitor offered me a job with a higher salary. What is the best way to use this to ask my boss for a raise, and what could be the best speech to convince him?

Nick’s Reply

salaryUsing a new job offer to leverage a counter-offer — a raise in salary — from your current employer is almost always a costly mistake. In fact, it’s a kind of extortion, so let’s call it that, and let’s consider some of the risks you could face.

You’re marked

Even if this gambit works, you will likely be marked as disloyal and untrustworthy. The next time cuts have to be made, you’ll be on the list because you already threatened to quit over money. Management will be concerned you’ll be likely to pull this again the next time you get a better offer. (No matter how much your boss likes you, business exigencies usually trump friendships.)

Instant termination?

If you’re using this new offer to leverage more money from your current boss, be ready to start that new job ASAP, because you may be walked to the exit immediately. Some bosses don’t take kindly to threats, no matter how diplomatically you make them.

Paying for your own raise

If you succeed in getting a raise by holding your boss over a barrel, where do you think that extra money will come from? It will likely be an advance against a future raise or promotion. You usually can’t win at this game because the bean counters are counting dollars. Most likely, you will wind up paying that raise to yourself in some way.

They want you, so be happy

But there’s good news here, too. You’ve found a new job where they want you! If you’re motivated to take a new job in a new place because you’re unhappy now, getting a few more bucks to stay (assuming you can get it) isn’t going to change the fundamental problem of job dissatisfaction. If that new job is really great for you, just take it.

Go where they’re making you happy!

If what you really want is a raise, ask your boss for it before you go interview somewhere else. Please see Should I ask for a raise one more time?

The “best speech” to give your boss is one sentence, and it should be in writing. You’ll find it here: Quit, Fired, Downsized: Leave on your own terms.

Do you want a raise, or a better job?

The bottom line is this. You need to make a choice, so compare your two options: Do you want a raise from your boss, or do you want a new job with a raise?

  • Your current employer apparently doesn’t recognize your value, or it would have offered you a raise and/or a promotion.
  • The new employer is putting its money where its mouth is — without any prodding. That’s worth a lot by itself. If it’s a good job, that’s who I’d want to work for.

I’ve seen people leverage higher salary out of their current employers when they get a bigger offer elsewhere — and it works out in the long run. But it’s very rare. Such a negotiation and accommodation requires great integrity on the part of the employer and the employee.

Work where it’s better

My advice: If the work, the job, the new employer and the money are all better, just resign and move on. Don’t look back at an employer who wasn’t willing to do right by you without a threat. Don’t forgo your future.

Have you ever tried to use a new job offer to get a raise from your current employer? What happened? Is there a way to extort a raise and mitigate the risks I’ve listed? Am I over the top when I refer to this gambit for getting a raise as extortion?

Don’t miss this new feature!
News I want you to use highlights articles that can give you an edge in unexpected ways!

: :

Share

Dirty little (HUGE) salary secrets revealed

Dirty little (HUGE) salary secrets revealed
Share
  • How do you decide whether an employer is going to give you a fair — or better than average — salary shake in the coming years, if you accept a job there?
  • How do you judge whether that employer is still going to be in business a few years down the road, before you accept its job offer?
  • Should you take that job?

News I want you to use

salaryHere’s an inside look at how investors judge companies on how they pay their people — in particular, their CEOs and, for our purposes, how CEO pay compares to the median pay of all a company’s employees.

The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs:
Are fund managers asleep at the wheel?

In March 2019  As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group, revealed some dirty little (HUGE) salary secrets that job candidates can use.

As You Sow monitors, among other things, CEO pay and evaluates its impact on investors. It turns out big institutional investors really do give a rat’s patootie about how much CEOs are paid — because it seems to correlate with a company’s performance and success.

Thanks to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, shareholders gained access to new information this year. Companies must now disclose the ratio of pay between the CEO and the company’s median employee, shining a brighter light on how high CEO pay has become. This new information can also be used in other ways.

Yep! It’s news we can use!

What this means to you

Digest as much of this report as you can, and let’s discuss what it means to you as you pick your next employer.

Will a company give you a fair salary shake? Skip to the appendices in the report (pp. 19-25).

  • Pick a company.
  • Take a look at how much it pays its CEO.
  • Then look at the median pay of all its employees.
  • Before you accept a job offer, follow the money!

Some good bits

As You Sow reports that:

The companies with overpaid CEOs we identified in our first report have markedly underperformed the S&P 500. Two years ago, we analyzed how these firms’ stock price performed since we originally identified their CEOs as overpaid. We found then that the 10 companies we identified as having the most overpaid CEOs, in aggregate, underperformed the S&P 500 index by an incredible 10.5 percentage points and actually destroyed shareholder value, with a negative 5.7 percent financial return… Last year, these 10 firms again, in aggregate, dramatically underperformed the S&P 500 index, this time by an embarrassing 15.6 percentage points.

Sheesh! Gotta wonder how the HR departments at these companies explain to job candidates how CEO pay reflects company performance. Do the candidates know to ask?

When shareholders were evaluating compensation packages in spring 2018, they had a new piece of information: the ratio of the pay of the CEO to the pay of the corporation’s median worker… The average of these CEO pay to median worker pay ratios as of Sep. 5, 2018 was approximately 273:1.

Betcha didn’t know the CEO of CSX Corp. makes over $150 million — 1,531 times more than the median employee. The ratio of Oracle Corp.’s CEO compensation to the median at the company is 907:1. Comcast’s CEO gets 458 times more than the company’s median employee salary.

Remember: The benchmark average ratio is 273:1.

Sheesh! Gotta wonder how the HR departments at these companies explain such dirty little (HUGE) salary secrets to incoming job candidates. Do the candidates know to ask?

Shareholders freak out

As Bloomberg columnist Nir Kaissar noted in a recent editorial, “As the grim pay disclosures pile up year after year, the backlash against the corporate elite will intensify. If corporate boards can’t find a better balance in their pay structure, outside forces will, and at a potentially far greater cost to companies and their shareholders.”

Opposition to high CEO pay has risen, and more companies have seen their CEO pay packages receive less and less support from their shareholders.

And we’re talking big shareholders:

California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)… voted against 45.4 percent of pay packages of the S&P 500 companies; it voted against 73 percent of the 100 most overpaid CEO pay packages.

New York State Common Retirement Fund… voted against 26 percent of pay packages of the S&P 500; it voted against 53 percent of the 100 most overpaid CEO pay packages.

But what about the rank and file?

Big institutional investors are not voting against big pay packages for top executives — but they are voting against huge pay disparities that seem to reveal underlying problems.

Are employees at these companies freaking out? If you’re applying for a job at a company with a huge CEO-to-median-pay ratio — well, would you apply for a job in such a company?

What do you think it would mean for your compensation over time?

Should you take that job?

How to use it

When HR asks if you have any questions, try this one, courtesy of the good folks at As You Sow: What’s the ratio of your CEO’s pay to the median employee salary here?

How else can we use this news?

: :

Share