There are two type of search firms: retained and non-retained. Non-retained firms work primarily for themselves and not for job candidates or employers. Retained firms represent employers looking to make a hire. Both types of search firms are trying to match job candidates with employers, but they don’t always have the time or inclination to assist job hunters. Here are four tips for working with search firms, so that you don’t waste their time or yours:
1. Before trying to contact the firm by phone, go to their website and upload your latest resume or CV. Most firms are database-driven, regardless of their size. They’re looking for key words and skill sets that match their searches. They won’t want to spend time on the phone with you unless you’re a known and viable candidate.
2. Search firms are not job counselors. Don’t go to them for job-searching advice. You’ll come across looking like an amateur, not one of the capable executives they’re seeking.
3. If you don’t fit any of their searches, it’s okay to ask if they know another firm in town that might have a bitter fit.
4. Don’t do an end-run and contact one of the search firm’s clients directly. These employers chose the search firm for a reason and will feel obligated to follow the process.