How Do I Know a Headhunter is Legit?

If Headhunters are reaching out to you, congrats – your Linked In profile is working! But with so many individuals hanging up a shingle today promoting their executive search services, how can you be sure the person who emailed you is the real deal?

The internet has been a helpful platform for launching many successful small businesses. Unfortunately, it’s also been a great tool for scammers. Here are ways to uncover if a Headhunter is legit:

  • Check out their web presence (aka, Google them).  Do they have a professional website with functional contact information?  Are they on Linked In with a completed Profile including a clear headshot? Are their connections legitimate professionals with quality Profiles? Can you find them on the Better Business Bureau or other sites where clients are able to leave complaints or feedback? A lack of web presence for a business in today’s day and age is usually a bad sign.
  • Pay attention to what they ask of you.  Do they want you to send personal information such as salary history or your social security number?  Do they require you to pay a fee for their services or for access to their training materials or databases?  Do they ask you to sign an agreement with unreasonable expectations like exclusivity? These requests should signal a problem.
  • Heed the red flags: Are there typo’s or poor grammar in the email?  Is it a generic, mass email that isn’t personalized to your situation and simply asks for your resume? Are there strange requests like needing to communicate only through Yahoo Messenger, or lame excuses for using personal email addresses or a poorly functioning website like “our servers are down.” While there’s no one universal signal something is a scam, these are some telltale signs.
  • Request a phone meeting: Legitimate Headhunters know the job search is about relationships, regardless of the process used.  If the job interests you, research the company/Headhunter and set up a 15-minute conversation if everything checks out. While Headhunters may not be able to disclose every detail of the job due to their client’s request for confidentiality, they should provide key responsibilities, level, general salary range, and a timeline. They should also be able to provide references and links to other jobs they’ve filled.

Not every large corporation is reputable and not every one-man shop is a scam.  Like any important investment, your career is not a place where you want to assume or cut corners.

Happy hunting!

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