I’ve made it no secret that attempting to get out and find a job without a headhunter is a moronic move. It’s already incredibly tough when you’re in the marketplace, your resume mirrors job requirements, and you’ve made contacts in the industry (plus you still have a job). Try and find a job with a military resume, no market knowledge or contacts, and a drop dead date when you will no longer have employment without a recruiter and you are setting yourself up for failure. That begs another question, however, how do I know my recruiter is any good? Well, here are 5 things that if your recruiter does, you should probably start looking around for someone else.
1. Requires Exclusivity
If your recruiter is adamant that you cannot work with any other agency and asks you to sign an exclusivity contract, go somewhere else. A good headhunter knows they are going to find you the best jobs and by allowing you to work with another headhunter, it makes YOU the commodity to be bargained for. This will push them to listen to YOUR needs and make sure they are delivering what you want so you don’t go with someone else. These companies that require you to sign exclusively with them for 6 months, when you’re 7 months away from getting out, know that as your ETS date approaches, you’re going to be more willing to accept whatever they throw at you. They get their commission and you get screwed. Don’t do it.
2. Ask You to Pay
Recruiting services should be free to you. Companies have a need to be met and they are willing to pay for someone to go out there, sift through the tens of thousands of candidates, and return with who will be the best fit. It saves them thousands of dollars in infrastructure and Human Resource employees to simply outsource the candidate search to a headhunter agency. I’ve seen offers out there, and even people emailing me about these companies that “help” veterans write resumes, update their LinkedIn, and find them jobs for a price. Don’t pay for that crap. Some of the resumes I’ve seen lately coming out of TAPS are decent and your recruiter knows exactly what the industry standard is at the time of your application. They also know the jobs you’re going to be applying for, so they can guide you through that process. Save the money and go out on a date with your spouse instead.
3. They don’t care what’s important to you
At the beginning of your relationship with a headhunter, you should have a long phone conversation where the recruiter gets to know you better. They should have reviewed your resume and provided some feedback, then they are going to take some time to get to know you and what your needs/wants are. How much do you want to make, where do you want to live, what do you want to do…sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a lot like the four big questions. Generally, you all think that when you get out you’re going to double your salary, which you aren’t, so I expect your recruiter is going to tell you that your expectations there are unrealistic. The rest of those questions, however, are your personal preferences, and if the recruiter is marginalizing what you want or pressuring you to interview for jobs you don’t want, drop them…they don’t have your best interests in mind.
4. They are critical of your background
This one seemed unbelievable to me, but I have heard guys get told they have the wrong MOS/Rate for the civilian world, or their degree is no good. If your recruiter is trying to talk you into hiding the fact that you were a grunt because of some civilian perception about infantry, drop them. They won’t be a good advocate for you.
5. They weren’t in the military
There might be a case where using a recruiter that has never been in the military can be beneficial, like someone who specializes in hiring for a field where you have a degree, but generally civilians don’t understand what you have done and therefore can’t translate your skills effectively. Because I was an Intelligence officer, I can tell you that the job is very similar to Marketing. The intel analyst has to put himself in the mind of someone from another culture and look at the world through their eyes to make an assessment about what they are going to do. Marketing is the exact same thing, except instead of making an assessment about the enemy, you’re looking at a product the same way a customer would and determining what actions that customer is going to take. A civilian will never put those dots together for you, and that means fewer interviews and a lower salary for you. A civilian also isn’t going to understand that there’s a vast personality difference between a guy that served in Ranger Battalion and another who was a quartermaster. One isn’t better than the other, it just means that you come from different cultures and may not fit into the same role.
Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any of these warning signs. Good luck and God Bless!