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Networking with headhunters is key to your career success

(Editor's note: As the calendar turns to September, and with the psychological end of “summer,” jobs and employment are again on the minds of many in the audience. This guest column is a part of an informal series by Gary Fowler, an experienced recruiter for mixed-signal and analog design talent. There are links to his previous columns at the end.)

Have you added the right connections in the engineering-headhunter world? Being known and having a relationship with the right headhunters could be some of the most important career contacts you possess. When you understand the headhunter's model and paradigm you most certainly can increase your chances of getting a phone call that can change your life forever!

It is first necessary for you to understand the differences in how recruiters often work. There are generalists, there are specialists, and there is everything in between.

In addition, the methods in which they operate are also very different. This can range from the recruiter who simply collects resumes from various sources and blasts them all over the industry, to the highly specialized recruiter who will only present you on the specific opportunity that you find appealing.

One thing that is consistent in that most headhunters begin their day focused on finding candidates for openings which they have been engaged to fill. They don't find jobs for candidates, but rather find candidates for opportunities. Keep in mind that all fees are paid by the client companies.

Therefore, many times just calling a headhunter to find a opportunity can be difficult. This is because unless your timing just happens to line up with that quality opportunity, he/she can't often pull a rabbit out of a hat. Opportunities often arrive at the most inopportune time.

So what are the ways to keep your name and background on the top of our list? Just having some knowledge of how headhunters think will help you in your networking. Here are some important tips which will help you successfully network with the most skilled and well-known headhunters.

Start by developing a relationship with just two or three of the best-known firms or individuals. Relationships are developed over time and often don't immediately involve mutually beneficial results. Most people have relationships with their chosen banker, lawyer, accountant, stock broker, among others, but yet don't even think about the one relationship that can affect you the most: your career!

Start by researching your industry to find the well-known recruiters. Ask your colleagues for leads and ask about their personal experiences with the recruiters they have dealt with. Perhaps look at the recruiters your own firm uses that specialize in your niche. Look for and analyze their website. Do they appear to be professional and well connected?

Many candidates will look at a prospective company's website as a first screening criterion. Don't be concerned with the location of the firm, as most all specialty firms work nationwide or, in today's times, worldwide.

Interview them and ask them how they conduct their business. Do they send resumes to their clients without first discussing a potential opportunity? Do they seem interested in your short- and long-terms goals, and do they ask good, detailed questions designed to allow them to share only the best and most unique opportunities?

Look for reasons to email or call. If you only call when you are in need of a new position, chances are you will either be ignored or disappointed. The reason for this is because most recruiters think if you are calling them, you are also calling everyone else as well! Time has value to everyone and no one wants to waste precious time on a wild-goose chase.

What do headhunters and bankers have in common? If you need them desperately, you probably won't get anything. The best approach is to stay in touch for as many reasons as you can. Use the recruiter as a sounding board in your niche; keep them updated on any change to contact data or locations. Keep them notified of any new accomplishments or resume updates, promotions, salary updates, title changes, and other significant items.

We like to talk as often as we can with people and do take a sincere interest in helping people achieve their dreams. The best recruiters are already financially sound and therefore will look to help their client and candidate without the thought of the financial gain. Keep them appraised of any change to career directions or plans, so they may call you if and when that ideal opportunity surfaces. The best recruiters also believe that saying “no interest” is a perfectly acceptable answer and is not directed at them personally!

Provide help when asked. Most high-quality recruiters understand the “one hand washes the other” mentality. Recruiters can't ignore someone who goes out of his/her way to help steer high-quality people to them. Be positive at all times. Candidates who continually complain about their chosen company or industry won't be viewed positively by a skilled recruiter any more than by a prospective employer.

The more information you share with the recruiter, the better informed they become about the industry and the market value you possess in your chosen field. And the more knowledgeable they become certainly brings tangible benefits to you both short and long term, of course.

I hope this information is helpful as we have faced many inquiries in the last year or two about how to best utilize the services of recruiters. I look forward to doing a yearly update soon on the state of the analog/ mixed signal world as well as my annual column in January or February. Stay tuned!

Previous columns by Gary Fowler:

About the Author


Gary Fowler is President and Founder of Analog Solutions, a Professional Recruiting firm, devoted to the analog and mixed-signal space. He has over 25 years of experience as an Executive Recruiter. His clients over the years have included several Fortune 500 companies as well as many emerging, well-funded startups. In addition, he has relationships with several leading venture capitalists and investment bankers, who serve the analog semiconductor industry. He holds a BS in Human Resources Management from New York University, and an MS in Management Science from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton.

1 comment on “Networking with headhunters is key to your career success

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