How to get into the Head of a Headhunter

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A former vice-president and controller for a television network wanted to become an accounting, finance and auditing consultant for a financial services firm. To launch his new career path, he built relationships with several financial services recruiters. One relationship – with a recruiter at Winter Wyman - led to his current assignment at Gerson Lehrman, a company that provides primary research services to financial and investment institutions.

We all know recruiters play a vital role in the job search for financial professionals, which is why it's important to understand how best to engage them.

Here are a tips to keep in mind:

The recruiter doesn’t work for you

Recruiters are typically hired by companies to find suitable candidates.

“You need to realize that they’re not there to help you get a job,” says Tom Sefcik, who recently landed a position as a group controller at a private company in Birmingham, Ala. with the assistance of a private equity executive recruiter. “Once you understand that and position yourself as someone that can help them do their job they are more willing to help you in your efforts.”

Find a recruiter who aligns with your background

“A recruiter should know their field and be somewhat of an expert in that field,” says Katy Spriano, principal staffing manager in the accounting and financing contracts division at WinterWyman, who was instrumental in placing the former TV executive at his current assignment with a financial firm.

Get beyond an email relationship

“I probably get email introduction dozens of times a week if not a day,” says Jim Etling, vice-president and practice leader of private equity practice at Charles Aris, Inc., a Greensboro, NC-based executive recruiting firm. “What will get my attention is a phone call that says here’s what I’ve done. Email submissions go in one eye and out the other.”

Become a resource to the recruiter

Most recruiting firms don’t get paid unless they place candidates in the positions.  So Sefcik says he tries to come up with ways to help make recruiters’ jobs easy. “At the end of every call I say is there anything I can do to help you fill a position,” he says.

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