Why I Hate Headhunters

I hate headhunters. The ones I have dealt with have all been talentless hacks that don’t even understand the technology business that they serve. If I had a nickel for every occasion I wasted my time with a headhunter, I’d be rich. This post is about a encounter with a particular headhunter at Winter Wyman, a technical staffing firm in Massachusetts.

About four months ago, I was thinking of leaving the position I was at, so I started putting out some feelers and sent out some resumes. It was during that time that I was contacted by a woman at Winter Wyman. I won’t name her, but she is a Prinicipal Consultant for the Information Design and Delivery Group there.

So she contacts me and says she’s seen my resume and has a few positions that would be a good fit for me. She had a few SEO positions to fill and asked me to send my resume to her in word format. So I did.

A few days later, I got an email back from her critiquing my resume, and suggesting that I re-write it. I made the changes she suggested and sent it back to her. Amazingly, she sent it back to me again, requesting that I make more changes. This went on for several revisions. I didnt want a resume coach, I wanted her to get me an interview. At one point I mentioned that my resume has served me well over the 16 years that I have worked in technology. To this she answered back that she has been in this business a long time and she knows what she’s doing, or something to that effect. We finally arrive at a resume that she is happy with, incorporating all of her suggested changes. We speak and says she’ll be back to me shortly.

Then, I dont hear back from her for a week. So I email her and leave her a voicemail. Another week goes by, and I haven’t gotten any response back. Yet another week goes by and still nothing. So I email her and give her a leave a voicemail again. Are you seeing the pattern here? Another few weeks go by, no response. After all the hassle of re-writing my resume for this idiot, she never follows up. So I chalk it up to yet another bad experience with Headhunters. You’d think I’d learn by now….. I figured she had left Winter Wyman, which would explain not having the courtesy to return my multiple messages.

Last week this moron sends me an email saying one of her colleagues passed on my resume to her and she has some exciting positions available. What an idiot. It was like the movie groundhog day. She contacts me like we have never talked before. So I send a response back, reminding her that that she never followed up with me before and that because of my previous experience, I have no interest in dealing with Winter Wyman and most definately not with her.

She must have remembered me at that point and emails me back in an arrogant manner saying that my reaction to her was a “strange one” and that she offered her resume tips to me “free of charge” based on her years of experience blah blah blah… I explain to her that my unhappiness was not with the changes, but the fact that after I took the time to incorporate those changes into my resume, she never returned my emails and phone calls.

At the end of our recent email exchange she mentions that she is “happy” to be a resource for me in the future. For a laugh, I email back asking her to send me the details of what she has for open positions.

That was ten days ago and no response. I hate headhunters.

8 thoughts on “Why I Hate Headhunters”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had quite a few such encounters. I understand that they work for the client, but when I ask questions like, “What type of decison time frame do they usually take?” or “Are there several people involved in the decision, or is it Joe Blow’s say so?” they act like I’m being a nuisance. Is it possible they don’t really know this client, but are shooting emails at them, sort of ‘bidding’ on the position in question?

  2. Hi

    Whilst lack of feedback must always be considered unprofessional the main failing here is that you do not fundamentally understand the difference between a recruiter and a head-hunter – and therefore your expectations are wrong.

    As an ex-recruiter (in the UK) and head hunter with a dozen years experience maybe I can help.

    The person you describe is not a head hunter….she is a recruiter (and a poor one by the sounds of it) – if you sent your resume to a head hunter they would say thank you – but would make it clear that head hunters rarely deal with people just looking for a new job because they are unhappy (for whatever reasons) with their current employer.

    They work in a different way to recruiters…..they get an assignment…i.e. find me a person with x skills, x background working in x industry who is top of their field.

    The Head-hunter (a real one) then uses a set of networking and name gathering to approach people who are not even looking for a job (they do NOT use any kind of database because each search is different)…..people who are completely happy in their job – they target the highest achievers, the kinds of people who never look at job ads, never send a résumé and who are mostly not accessible to recruiters. As a head-hunter I never asked anyone for their resume (we call them CV’s over here)

    A recruiter either gets jobs from clients (and is in competition with others) – and trawls through a database of people in the hope that they will find someone suitable.

    They will advertise and network…..but inherently will find people who are unhappy where they are, have lost their job recently or want more money.

    What she should have done is advised you that she did not have anything currently, advised you of the changes she thought would be helpful and not given you the expectation that she was immediately going to find you a position.

    Most good recruitment firms will take a strong candidate with a good CV and “Market” that person to clients they know use people with that skill set – obviously this person doesn’t know how to do that and is little more than an “order taker” and database searcher…..

    The only thing that will bring a smile to your face is to say that given the economic climate….there is no room for fools in the industry and she will be talking to recruiters very soon for herself.

    A good recruiter or head-hunter can turn your world around….when someone like me helps you in to a new job that increases your salary by £30-50K per year….you will understand that there are some really professional people out there who do not deserve to be painted with the same brush.

    The best way to judge a recruiter is to meet them face to face…..if they wont, they are not worth your time.

    1. No, actually all recruiters and headhunters are cut from the same cloth. They suck and in particular Winter Wyman is another joke. You dont need to use a recruiter/head hunter these days as there are to many other ways to get a good job.

      I have managed to not need one for 1 years now and have been making 6 figure income without the used car salesman in the middle.

      1. I hear you. I’ve only been hired one time in my twenty five year tech career with the help of a headhunter. And even then, the headhunter had zero to do with my hiring. A head hunter called me at 4pm out of blue, no previous relationship. I interviewed the next morning and hired instantly. Pure luck.

  3. Winter Wyman is the WORST. They try to low ball you, give you assignments that you’re clearly overqualified for, never respond to you in a timely manner and never follow up when they’re supposed to. Yet, they act like they’re the best thing since sliced bread. Total WASTE OF TIME!

  4. Hmmmm! An old weblog, but worthy of a comment if it gets through. The above headhunter/recruiter comparison was excellent. However, the “contingent” recruiter as opposed to the retained “headhunter” has no real motivation for delving into a marketing campaign for a candidate unless he/she expects to gain new clients due to the exceptional character and qualifications of this particular candidate.
    These recruiters are typically sharks and barracuda and looking for a quick meal with little desire to dig in and actually work for a “client”. This is part of the deterioration of the recruiter/HR relationship. My advice to the job hunter is work with a career coach or outplacement firm and not get drawn in to the database filling recruiters who ultimately wish to add you to their list for future potential possibilities.

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