Recruiting Twist: Client Turned Candidate

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Banks' constrained staffing budgets hurt headhunters along with job-seekers. Many external recruiters who enjoyed a steady flow of retainer assignments in happier times now find themselves taking on more contingency work.

In a contingency search, recruiters bear a financial risk if they don't bring in a winning candidate, while the employer bears no risk. But one headhunter reports an interesting twist.

Many professionals who'd been this headhunter's clients - Wall Street hiring managers who retained him to fill openings in their departments - have lost their own jobs. Having worked closely with these people on past searches, the headhunter says he knows them well enough to represent them from the other side of the table - as candidates. That gives him an extra measure of comfort presenting these individuals to employers in contingency searches.

From the recruiter's perspective, referring clients-turned-candidates confers several advantages over the typical contingency search drill. He's already sourced them, has done most of the necessary screening work, and when recommending them to a current client he can expect greater credibility than with candidates sourced through typical contingency tactics like public job postings.

So the next time you interview, be aware that someone who sat in judgment over you not long ago might be a rival for the opening you're pursuing now.

And if you were (or are) a hiring manager yourself, don't be too proud to re-connect with external recruiters who you hired through at one time or another. If your relationship was good back when you were the client, there's a good chance they'll be willing to go to bat for you as a job-seeker. They're likely to be more effective advocates than a recruiter you never worked with before.