by Meridith Levinson

How Do You Find Your Next Job?

Feb 27, 2008 3 mins

Would you rather get help from an executive recruiter, or would you rather work directly with the employer? What do you think is the best way to land your next job?

 IT executives usually land new roles through headhunters, but increasingly, employers are recruiting senior executives—in IT and other functions—on their own.

Sam Gordon, the director of Harvey Nash Executive Search’s CIO practice, says companies started searching directly for IT executives after the dot com crash in 2002, when the marketplace was flooded with talented professionals, which made hiring much easier. Gordon says companies continue this practice of “direct recruiting” today—and not just in IT. Gordon’s colleagues who recruit for other functions are witnessing the same trend.

Companies have two reasons to hire senior level executives on their own:

  1. It can be cheaper than retaining a search firm.
  2. To beef up their internal talent management and recruiting functions.

Clearly, direct recruiting is a threat to the executive search industry, but I’m wondering if it may be beneficial for IT executives. Would you rather answer an online job ad for a CIO-level position and apply for a position with a company directly, or would you rather work through an executive recruiter? Why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

I’ve heard a number of CIOs complain about headhunters. They say executive recruiters don’t return their phone calls, aren’t as interested in networking as they claim to be, only serve as gatekeepers, and only pursue the same group of CIOs for placement. Yet executive recruiters can be an important ally for IT leaders seeking new jobs. Good ones carefully match candidates with opportunities, offer candidates sound advice on their resumes and interviewing techniques, advocate for the candidate and handle dicey salary negotiations.

Would you want to negotiate your salary directly with the individual who was going to be your boss? Managing Editor Michael Goldberg likens the question to real estate: Would you rather hire a realtor to sell your house or put up “For Sale By Owner” signs?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both: If you negotiate directly with your boss and take a hard line on the negotiations, you risk looking like a prima donna and potentially alienating yourself from your manager as you start your new job. On the other hand, an executive recruiter who, like a realtor, doesn’t want to lose a commission may advise you to fold on tough negotiations when you feel like holding out for more.

Here’s another question to consider: Are you comfortable sending your resume to a company through an online portal? What if you never heard back from the company? You’re an IT executive, do you think you deserve to get some feedback on your application?

I’m interested in your answers to these many questions, so please share your comments below. Would you rather apply for a job directly or work through a recruiter? Which option do you think increases your chances of getting a job?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!