What a Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You

I first presented “7 steps to landing a job” to the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce in 2009. Not much has changed since then except a retitle of “What a Staffing agency or Headhunter will never tell you”. The reason I changed the title is that a lot of job searchers contact me thinking I can help them as a Staffing agency or Headhunter. The fact is, Staffing agencies and Headhunters work for companies who are hiring certain positions.

Now, on the other hand, if you are a company looking for a recruiter, staffing agency, or headhunter, you will be interested in my earlier post – The High Cost of Not Using a Recruiter

You are so much better off learning how to land a job on your own than contacting a Staffing agency or Headhunter.


So many people who contact me and other staffing agencies or headhunters are frustrated with their job search. They have spent countless days writing/re-writing their resume, searching for jobs across all the job boards, and filling out online applications, only to be stuck in a never-ending cycle. Unfortunately, they have wasted a tremendous amount of time.

What a Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You

Over 80% of all new jobs are landed as a result of Networking, not filling out online applications and not by staffing agencies or headhunters – so budget your time accordingly. You can’t call your contacts at 2 AM, but you can access an internet job board at that time.

Looking for a job without a proven process is like attempting to drive from Tampa, Florida to Little Rock, Arkansas for the first time without GPS or a map.

Your “GPS” follows…

1. Self-assessment
2. Identify Target Opportunities
3. Prepare Your Profiles
4. Announce your Intentions
5. Research Companies and Contacts
6. Connect with decision makers
7. Continuous Improvement

1 – Self-Assessment

Deeply evaluate yourself in these dimensions:  Instincts (natural), Personality, Skills (learned), and Passions.

Begin by asking people close to you to help you with this exercise. A staffing agency or headhunter will not tell you this or help you conduct a self-assessment. Don’t forget to consider what pay and what location(s) you are willing to consider.

Outcome – Identity up to 3 characteristics that set you apart from others.

2 – Identify Target Opportunities

Indeed.com is an excellent resource to help you find companies and job titles that are a fit for you. Start by entering key skills from your self-assessment work above into the “What” field at Indeed.com. You should start by leaving the “Where” field blank. Review and continue to refine your search until jobs show up that are a strong fit for your background and in the location(s) you are interested in. Once you have a solid search that produces jobs you are interested in, Create a Job Alert. Indeed will then send you new jobs for that search every day!

Again, a staffing agency or headhunter will NOT tell you this.

• Identify 2-3 target companies and roles that are a good fit for you
• Spend less time on the internet

3 – Prepare your Profiles

At a minimum this includes your resume and LinkedIn. You want your profiles to have a combination of keywords from your self-assessment work AND the target roles you identified above.

Guess what? A staffing agency or headhunter will NOT tell you this.

Outcome: Online & Offline personal presence

More of what a Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You…

4 – Announce your Intentions

Tell as many people you can what type of role you are looking for. Use your online presence as well. For example, you can update your status in LinkedIn and the fact that you are looking, and what you are looking for will be the first thing people see.

Outcome: You commit yourself and your contacts can help

5 – Research Companies and Contacts

What a Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You

From your work to identify target opportunities, you should have a list of companies and roles that are a good fit for you. Now you need to find specific people at those companies and/or in those roles who can help you find a similar job. LinkedIn is the best suited tool for this.

For quick clarification:

Insiders = people who are in a company or role you have targeted for yourself.
Decision makers = people who have hiring authority for a company or role you have targeted for yourself.

Nope, a staffing agency or headhunter will NOT tell you this. Why would they want you as competition?

Outcome: Identify “insiders” and “decision makers” at your target companies

A Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You…

6 – Connect with Insiders and Decision Makers

Make phone calls, schedule lunch meetings and attend networking events. To keep from pressuring your contacts, tell them you are just looking for advice on your job search and possibly referrals. Your objective isn’t just to send your contacts an email or text but to actually meet face to face with them and grow/build your relationship with them.

Outcome: Identify and build relationships with people who can help you land a job

The Japanese word Kaizen means “improvement” and became well known in business by the practices spearheaded by Toyota but introduced by

7 – Continuous Improvement

American W. Edwards Deming. In Japan, Kaizen is a process to get better every day. The same is true for you and your job search.


Every week review your progress with steps 1-6 and adjust as necessary. Pay attention to what is working and what is not working.

Not only will a staffing agency or headhunter not tell you this, they want you to become dependent on them.

Outcome: Land your ideal Job! 

What a Staffing agency or Headhunter will Never Tell You

I’d love to hear about your job search, what’s working and what isn’t. Also, if you have any stories from your interaction with staffing agencies or headhunters please share. Feel free to email me at info@CEGpartners.com.