I am at a cocktail party and one of my long term friends grabs my arm and says, "There is somebody I want to introduce you to." 

Now I don't know about the rest of you, but in this most recent economic downturn, those words are usually preceded by an introduction to a person that has been out of work for 'x' months and needs some help getting employed.  Sometimes a good candidate, sometimes not; but always it entails effort  and time on my part for which I truly cannot seek or expect to be paid.

However; the conversation sometimes takes an interesting turn when the person to whom I am introduced then asks, "And what exactly is it that you do?"

How many times have you been asked that question and how many times have you tried to explain to a disbelieving audience that what you really do is meet the people/talent needs of organizations whose own efforts have not met with success?  Why is it that people outside of the recruiting world have such a difficult time understanding the delicate balance of talent, qualifications and personality that we seek for our clients?

Perhaps we need to promote our field a bit more eloquently. Perhaps we need to speak in terms of "Unit cost per hire". Perhaps we need to use phrases like "Strategic Talent Acquisition".

I guess it's all up to us as individuals but when I get asked that question, I usually and not without some level of satisfaction just answer, "I'm an Executive Recruiter." What about you?


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I have had to point blank explain to a couple of candidates who should know better how i work.  Finally said, Look try to understand it this way.  You are inventory.  Very expensive, highly valuable but inventory.  I will take as good a care of you as i can until somebody wants to buy you but i do not take valuable, expensive inventory out into the market place to peddle it.


I got into a pissing match on a web site not too long ago when some guy started telling people that headhunters will find you a job.  I nicely (at first) clarified that headhunters do not find jobs for people.

He came back and said, " You must be really green or a bad at what you do, i know headhunters find jobs for people because i got my last job through a headhunter".

I finally asked him if he had called the headhunter or had the headhunter called him and if he called the headhunter how long was it before he got a job.

He said he had called the headhunter and it took six months for the headhunter to find him a job.

So you sat in inventory until the headhunter had a client who listed a job that fit your background right?

His response was, "spin it anyway you want but headhunters find jobs for people".

Sometimes it's best to let Darwin just do his thing.  He probably believes that those cats with feathers and a bone in their nose can make it rain if they jump around and chant and within six months it rains.

Tom Dimmick said:

Isn't it amazing how many people, including some very senior people who based on their own hiring experiences should know better, think that they are your/my 'client'.

Sandra McCartt said:
I have tried all the responses and finally settled on. "I find people for companies to hire when they need an employee."  They pay me to find somebody who fits a job they have open, interview them and co-ordinate interview times." "If they hire them i get paid, if they don't i don't get paid. " "No i don't find jobs for people just people for jobs."
Few people in today's marketplace can do what we headhunters/recruiters do! I don't think we have to make excuses, apologize, or feel ashamed in the value we bring to businesses who need our skill sets! It's really true that "many are called and few are chosen". And yes, when asked, I tell someone I'm a headhunter who steals a talented person from one company and takes them to another company... for more money, opportunity, and quality of life.
I say I'm a professional recruiter not to be confused with an unprofessional one, but I wish I went with: "I'm a lefty relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals." (with no mention of Bill Shultz's influence)

...and if the conversation becomes extended on this subject.  I'll say, in a way, I'm like Paladin "A knight without armor in a savage land." -from the theme song (which obviously dates me...but so it goes). 

I say, "Without a gun of course. I'm a recruiter."

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