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Find a good HR headhunter by asking the right questions

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources

Issue: Finding the right HR job is challenging due to downsizing and the growth of HR technology and specialties.

Benefit: Headhunters who recruit HR professionals can help, but only if you find the right ones.

Action: Use the following questions to screen headhunters.

If you're looking for greener pastures in the HR world, should you contact headhunters who recruit HR professionals, or take their calls? Yes, but screen them carefully.

"HR people are savvy at using recruiters for their own organizations because they are selling the organization. But it's difficult for them to sell themselves," says Betsy Friedlander, principal of Willmott & Associates, a firm that places HR professionals.

To select a recruiter, ask the following:

Question 1: Are you working on a contingency fee or on retainer? You want to know how much competition exists for a position. A search firm receiving a retainer is usually the only one looking to fill a job, whereas a headhunter on contingency may be one of several looking for candidates.

Question 2: How long have you been trying to fill the slot and will you receive a commission for doing so within a certain time? You want to know if you're dealing with a recruiter who might be under pressure to fill a position to earn a commission.

Question 3: How many and what kinds of HR candidates have you placed and at what levels? Some headhunters are best at filling HR generalist positions. Some excel at hiring for certain HR specialties. Others can do it all. Ask for a list of job titles the firm has filled. Look for vice presidents, managers, directors and specialists spread across a range of HR functions.

Question 4: Did one of your candidates previously hold the position? You should know if you'll be following a headhunter's failed placement. Search contracts often include candidate guarantees. If a recruit is fired or leaves within a certain period, usually at least 60 days, the search firm refunds its fee or finds another candidate at no extra cost.

Question 5: What is the role of the

HR position you are filling within or-ganizations? This helps screen out sales-oriented recruiters. You want to work with professionals who possess an intimate HR knowledge.

Final tips: Ask about experience, credentials and memberships in professional organizations, such as the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment,, or the National Association of Executive Recruiters,

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