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Career Partners? Training our Candidates, Training Ourselves

By Jim Gettys, Former Regional Director of NPA, and President of International Staffing Consultants, Inc.

Reprinted from the September, 1999, issue of the NPA Resume,
published by National Personnel Associates

I recently had the opportunity to review an unpublished manuscript of a forthcoming book written about what we do, Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets™ for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters. (I'll save the interesting surprise as to the author until the end.) It caused me to think long and hard about the future of the recruiting profession — where we are headed as one of society's service providers. Written for the professional job seeker, this book is nonetheless a feast of food for thought for the professional recruiter. I'd like to share with you some of the lights it caused to "go on" in me.


As I've written in past articles, the personal touch is critical in performing our craft, yet we can't avoid the ever-present march of technology. NPA has long accepted and even spearheaded the necessity to adapt to and become adept at electronic recruiting. Our very own in-house database systems, NPA Lynx, and its predecessors, PC Quest and the Macintosh templates, have been some of the best in the industry. These systems made standard keyword search ability available to NPA affiliates long before it was generally affordable to most recruiters. So, as technology within NPA and the world of recruiting becomes better and cheaper, we would be silly to not use it for all it's worth. With an increased "memory," through effective database use, we should all be able to make more placements — and split placements. The only concern is that now, if we are relying on the computer to sort through our "stacks" of resumes when conducting a search of our "files," it is crucial that the information put in can be pulled back out — at the right time, in the right place(ment).

Because we can't personally review every resume we've received when doing a search, resumes today must leave nothing to assumption. They must clearly and specifically state what background, qualifications, technical skills, and other pertinent information will cause a candidate to be isolated from the mass of electronic data packed on a hard drive, retrieved, and noticed by the recruiter. This holds true for searching the Internet as well as a database. The only problem is that nobody has told the throngs of job seekers about this critical necessity.

How many of you get resumes that state "ABC Company" as someone's employer, but you can't tell what products or services ABC happens to sell? How many candidates have you seen that don't spell out specific job functions in their resume, items that you would use in a keyword search of a database? Of course, for those affiliates placing mostly hi-tech computer or engineering professionals, this is not so much of a problem — those candidates usually spell out everything. However, the average Sales, Accounting, or Human Resources professional may not be as detailed. And finally, how many of you still get resumes mailed into your office that, if you want to keep, you either have to scan or request another copy e-mailed to you for inclusion in the database?

Part Four of Headhunters Revealed!, entitled "Hi-Tech Headhunting: Resumes for Database Jungle Fighting" solves all of these dilemmas by telling candidates what we want in a resume and how we want it. This section is a roadmap for the professional job seeker to create resumes more adaptable to today's database-driven recruiting world. There are tons of books on the market which give resume advice, yet this is the first I've seen written from a recruiter's point of view. What is emphasized is not only how to make a resume keyword searchable, to increase a candidate's chances of being noticed again and again, but to submit the resume by e-mail to create the least "database resistance." You may think most candidates know this, but if you'll notice how many resumes you still get by mail and fax, you'll realize they don't. With technology assuming an inevitably larger role in our work, this kind of educating the candidate is what the future requires.

Career Partners

Greater use of technology in the employment process could strike fear in the search industry that we may lose some foothold as more companies recruit candidates directly through the Internet and more candidates expose themselves to employers far and wide through hundreds of resume posting sites. Many areas of the "hidden job market" no longer remain hidden due to the widespread availability of information today. So, where will recruiters fit as the conduit of information and connection between employers and professional job seekers in the new millennium? Where will our job security derive from?

Part Three of this new book specifically, and the entire book in general, proposes a future of "career partnership" between candidates and recruiters. In the same way famous celebrities and sports figures use their agents to manage their careers and alert them to new opportunities, this forward-thinking author envisions that we begin to do the same for our candidates. Rather than simply associating with a candidate during one or two of their job searches over a lifetime, what if we were always on the lookout for them? Face it: if a candidate is unemployed and needing a job immediately, though we might be able to help, they stand a good chance of finding their own job directly through the Internet. However, it's when they're working and not engaged in a job search when we can add enormous value to their career. This book implies that recruiters will be more involved in managing the movement of happy, content, presently working candidates.

Now, you may think that you are already working only with happy and content candidates, but how many of you get an updated resume from a candidate the week after he or she starts a new job? This may sound extreme, but this author proposes that this is a must if we are going to truly manage our candidate's careers. If they don't do it then, they will only finally do it when they are no longer happy and content. This is a bit tricky to grasp, but the idea is that we, as recruiters, be always aware of a candidate's current "wish list" and actively keep our eyes and ears open for its fulfillment. And, even if a candidate just started a job yesterday, rarely has his or her wish list been totally granted. So, we find out then what, if it arose, they would just have to hear about, make a note in their database record, and then watch for that opportunity to arise. The next time they pop up in a search, if the shoe fits, they wear it!

A Candidate-Driven Future

With societal development moving the baby boomers into the middle and latter part of their careers, we are guaranteed, to a certain extent, a candidate-driven market well into the future. Therefore, it will be our value-added service to candidates, causing ourselves to stick out in their minds and demonstrating that we can do something for them that they can't do on their own, which will guarantee our future as recruiters.

Through the use of today's database technology, it is possible to keep many more candidates "in mind" than ever before. Of course, we will always be asked by ABC client to find someone already experienced at XYZ to do an XYZ job. However, besides simply isolating the XYZ candidates in our database, what if we could be actively aware of whether the opportunity at ABC fits their future desires? This would be a value-added dimension to our work that could set us apart as "career partners" to our candidates.

This book encourages professionals to "always be looking" and to keep their favorite headhunters constantly updated with a resume and wish list. This will give us the information we need to perform this new role. However, it will be up to us to manage and use this information efficiently, as well as to step into long-term candidate "servicing," that will ensure our new role of partnership.

Spread the Word

Frankly, I'm interested in dealing with a candidate who not only gives me the information I need how I need it but also regards me as one of the long-term professional "providers" in their life (like their family career doctor). I feel I'll have more of their ear and trust over the long run than someone who regards the service I provide as simply a wham-bam, quick-fix, emergency job shop. And, if I can have more of the ear and trust of the best candidates, I believe I'll be much more successful in a perpetually candidate-driven market. So, I'm going to get behind this idea and encourage candidates to read the book to not only make their lives easier, but mine as well.

Oh, and by the way, I saved the surprise of the author until the end. This is actually a "home grown" work which has been written by one of our very own affiliates, Darrell W. Gurney, of A Permanent Success National Career/Search Partners (NPA #6693). The publishing date (when it will be in bookstores) is set for March of 2000, but he plans to have it available for sale on the Internet by November of this year, or you can e-mail him now at to get on his mailing list.

It is nice to see one of our trading partners trying to make our lives as recruiters a little easier. Congratulations and good luck with the book sales, Mr. Gurney!

This article represents a review by James R. Gettys of the book Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets™ for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters, written by Darrell Gurney. Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent an endorsement by NPA.

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