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How I Became A Headhunter, Part 2

My training consisted of sitting in the Manager’s office and listening to him make calls. Yep, that was about the extent of it. I remember there were a few industry-training videos but they were outdated.

I was then given a job order for a component level tech support position, essentially a tech support person who could use a soldering gun or other tools when needed, and a phone book.

And off I went to work in my new career as a Headhunter. I had no idea what to do other than call the many fix-it shops and retailers in the Twin Cities and asked who could help with a question regarding a motherboard. My assumption was that a guy who could install one of those and other internal gadgets must be able to use a screwdriver and soldering gun.

I did make a placement on that job order in the first month.

It did not take me long to realize that the firm, not my fellow recruiters, was only in it for the money. The manager would walk around making sure we were all making calls. We rarely met candidates except in presenting an offer. Other than delivering a holiday gift I do not remember more than four visits to client sites by the whole team.

I like to call it a sweatshop except we were wearing ties. I understand that smiling and dialing is a recruiters job but we would get looked at disapprovingly if we went to the men’s room or heaven forbid talked with one another during what was considered “phone time.”

We worked at 30% with a 30-day guarantee. Those terms were aggressive back then and we were not allowed to take any job orders for less than 30%.

Back to the tools we used. We were given a desk, phone, filing cabinet, and a somewhat current list of companies categorized by technology used. We all would be calling the ads in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. The idea being if they placed an ad then they must need a recruiter. There were days when the same hiring manager or HR person would hear from three or four of us.

There was no coordination of marketing calls. New guys would often call companies that were already a client of the firm and that led to the chewing out of the new guy even though he was just doing what he was told to do, make calls.

Email was not really in use yet not that it mattered because none of us had a computer to use.

Basically I knew how search firms worked decades ago because I worked in a similar situation for those 5 months. All submittals of resumes went through the Admin who used white out to hide contact information and all previous employers.

The managers’ kid was sort of a research assistant. He had copies of all the resumes ever taken by the firm and would fax them out to a client after seeing a job order. Oh, he would do that without knowledge of the person with the account. Oh yeah, one more thing. He did it without the knowledge of the candidate too so we would have to go back and find the person and see if they were available or find them when the contact information was outdated.

There were no benefits and we worked on 100% commission except for the $1,000 a month draw we could take which was taken out of the check when a placement was made.

Having said all of that, the firm billed. It was a revenue-producing machine and we only did perm placements.

I hated working there. I hated the owner. Hate is a strong word to use but in this case it is fitting. I could barely stand the manager. The staff, the recruiters, were good people and they meant well. Many of them did well and a few are still in the industry today working for reputable firms, providing top-notch candidates, and good customer service.

Tomorrow in Part 3 I will get into what I learned from the experience and why I went out on my own.


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