Last updated: April 4

Why Relying on Recruiters Solely is like Putting Your Eggs in One Basket 

Tapping into The Hidden Job Market pt 5

 “Don’t Do It!” is a phrase I seldom say – to adults, at any rate. People who know me professionally have described me as a positive person, encouraging in my approach, and optimistic in my outlook.

But (and it’s a big but…) 
There is one subject that makes me want to stamp my feet, find a cupboard door to slam and shout, Don’t Do It!

It’s this: Among people who are considering making their next career move, there is this constant, ever-popular, misleading, misapprehension that a recruitment firm is somehow going to target you in one of their stealth searches, airlift you from your current circumstance and then safely parachute you into your next executive position.

Stop thinking that! Please. The chance that it will happen is so slim as to practically be of mythical proportions. Listen – there are a number of reasons that many, many top-level executives have never been in the position to search for a job before and it’s a detrimental myth to perpetuate. There is no one-stop shop for those seriously engaging in a job search.
In fact, the efficacy of getting hired through a recruiter stealth search is about 1=3%. Pretty low, right? And so you ask, why do I continue to include Stealth Search by Recruiters as a point of entry into an executive position on my Hidden Job Market infographic?

Good question. The reason is because for a very, very small percentage of executives a recruitment firm can deliver. (It is an avenue to explore but it should never be the only avenue.)
As I wrote in a blog article on when to work with recruiters a few years ago, recruiters can be an important partner for your job search under the following circumstances:

  • If you are not looking for an industry change
  • If there is no gap in your employment
  • If the position you want is a logical move “up the corporate ladder” as in from Controller to VP Finance to CFO to CEO.
  • If you are ideally qualified for the opportunity with a clear line drawn between your value proposition and the needs of the recruiter’s client.

But let’s face it, that list doesn’t describe most of us. In reality, the majority of us have a work history that looks more akin to a doodle than a dot-to-dot puzzle. We have:

  • A zigzagged career path – not A to B to C,
  • A job history not all within the same industry. In fact, on the face of it some positions we’ve held are very dissimilar to others
  • We began our work life in one area but now want to expand into another
  • We never finished a degree

For most of us, recruitment firms are not the way to make a smart, calculated, strategic career change. And those who run recruitment firms would agree – wholeheartedly. Sure, we can introduce ourselves and ensure the top recruiting firms know we’re in the market. That’s part of a strategy, especially if the recruiting firm specializes in your field.

Yet, make no mistake. Recruiters do not work for you, the job seeker: they work at the pleasure of the company or companies they who pay them. And they pay handsomely. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Employers will invest up to 35% of the first year’s compensation of a new executive. This means that for an executive earning $500,000 per year, the recruiter earns $175,000. The expectation by the hiring company and the recruiter is that the chosen candidate will be able to hit the ground running with very little training required.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why a recruiter WILL NOT even spend a moment recruiting a candidate who doesn't meet 99.9% of the hiring criteria.

There is too much risk for the recruiter in both earnings and in reputation.
I will never say that there is no place in your job search for a recruiter. What I do say is that being known by a head hunting firm is just one step along a very direct route. And I stress, there is a definite route to making a successful career change and there are definite steps to take that require much more than a spiffy resume.

Before you make the mistake of dropping off your resume to a head hunting firm and then just sitting back, remember my words, Don’t Do It!

To land a new position you have to be thoughtful, patient and tactical, (as well as smart and qualified.) And most often you need help – help to be patient, to be strategic.

If you need an acknowledged guide and confidante to help you prepare for your next move, judge the timing, and build a powerful strategy, get in touch. I’m Maureen Farmer and I help executives get market-ready and define their value proposition (how they stand out among others).
If you have a friend or colleague who might benefit from this information, I’d be honored for you to share it using the icons below.

Announcing the CEO Script Vault: Job Search Scripts for Busy Executives. If you have ever struggled with what to say during a job search, networking meeting, or job interview, this resource can help. It’s available at:

We look forward to welcoming you into the Westgate Family of success stories.

About executive resume writing author 

Westgate - Maureen Farmer, helping C-level executives step up or step out.

Maureen Farmer is the Founder & CEO of Westgate Executive Branding & Career Consulting Inc., an international personal branding and career consulting firm delivering premier executive branding and career consulting services for high-profile leaders. Author of The CEO Script Vault: Job Search Scripts for Busy Executives, Maureen believes that when we’re doing work aligned with our values, everyone wins. Using the law of attraction to identify quality employers utilizing the hidden job market is a cornerstone of her career management strategy.

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