Headhunters and the cosmetic chemist

After a couple years of working as a cosmetic chemist, you might get a phone call that goes something like this…

“Hello (your name). I’m trying to fill this great position and I was wondering if you knew anyone who might be a good candidate.”

Congratulations!  You’ve just gotten your first call from a “headhunter.”   Read on to learn how to deal with these people who can genuinely help advance your career.

What is a headhunter?

Headhunter is a slightly derogatory slang term for Recruiter.  A recruiter is a person who’s job it is to find people to fill positions in companies.  Typically, they focus on one industry, job type, and geographical location.  A recruiter makes money when they fill a position.  So, they get paid if they can convince you (or someone else) to take a job.

How can they help you?

Recruiters can genuinely be helpful for your career so it makes sense for you to network with a number of them.   They learn of opportunities that are not posted and can help match you up with a cosmetic science job that can make you more money, give you more responsibility, or just save you from a bad situation.   LinkedIn is a great place to find recruiters.

Headhunter hints

There are a number of things you can do to make working with a headhunter more beneficial for both you and the recruiter.

1.  Give the recruiter as much information about what you want from a job as possible.  Include information about salary, job type, responsibility level desired, location, and anything else you think is relevant.

2.  Provide your recruiter with a list of companies you would consider working for.  This doesn’t guarantee that they’ll find you a job there but it can improve your chances.

3.  Ask your recruiter for advice to improve on in areas in which you are weak such as your resume (CV), your interviewing skills, or your salary negotiating skills.

4.  Get information about the company in which they are trying to fill a position.  Headhunters are notorious for being vague about the job/position that they are trying to fill.  Usually, they’ll just say “some big company on the East coast is looking for a formulator”.  Request more information.

5.  Get tips from your recruiter on how you can improve your chances of having a great interview.  They might know of why other people didn’t get the job.

6.  It is best to work with a recruiter when you already have a job.  Recruiters are not as keen to work with people who are unemployed.

Headhunter Cautions

While headhunters can be helpful, they can also be annoying or can get you in trouble.

After I had been working for my company for a couple of years, a headhunter contacted me and told me about a job that sounded interesting.  I was looking for a higher salary so was open to the possibility of changing jobs.  The headhunter asked me to send him a resume and for some reason he faxed it back to my own company.

The head hunter was trying to fill a position at MY OWN COMPANY!!!

Fortunately, one of my friends intercepted the fax (this was before the days of email) so my management didn’t find out that I was looking for another job.  But you have to be careful out there.  There are good headhunters and terrible ones.  Before you give any personal information to a headhunter interview them a bit more to find out the quality of their work.

Incidentally, while headhunters may seem to be working for you, they are not.  They are like relators in that they only make money when a transaction happens.  They are ultimately driven by filling a position.  Sure, the good ones want to be sure they put you in a job that is to your liking, but that is not what they get paid to do.  Ultimately you have to ignore what the headhunter tells you about a company and decide for yourself whether it is a good idea to make a move or not.

During the month of March we focusing on a cosmetic science career.  If you are interested in more about having a career as a cosmetic chemist, be sure to see our page on cosmetic science career.



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