Executive Recruiter Career – How to Become a Headhunter

Name: Ryan Cook
Job Title: Job Recruiter/Headhunter/Direct Hire Consultant
Where: Overland Park, KS
Employer: Personnel Connection (A Division of Spencer Reed Group, LLC)
Years of Experience: Almost one year
Other Relevant Experience: Started in the mortgage business.
Education: Avila University – B.A. in Corporate Communication.
Annual Salary: See PayScale’s Research Center to find the median income for an executive recruiter, including management-level executive recruiter career compensation.

Ryan Cook doesn’t mind being called a "headhunter." It might sound harsh, but the term has become synonymous with working as a recruiter. In his role as a professional recruiter, companies give Ryan specific positions that they need to fill. He then hunts down and delivers qualified candidates for those positions. The task may sound straightforward, but a career as a job recruiter is multifaceted. At one moment Ryan is networking to find potential candidates. At the next moment, he’s interviewing candidates to match their interests with job positions. When he finds a good match, Ryan will market and pitch his candidates to employers, highlighting their qualifications.

In this Salary Story, Ryan shares the inside thrills, challenges, and lighter side of headhunting. If you’re interested in playing "career matchmaker," but not too keen on the sales aspect of being a job recruiter, check out careers in human resources. You’ll find info on a human resources salary and income as an executive recruiter at PayScale.com.

How would you describe your work as a Job Recruiter?
Ryan Cook: I provide a free service to people looking to make a career move. I have businesses that pay me fees for talented candidates that would not be found if it weren’t for me. Basically, I network over the phone all day scouring the business world for people that my clients need to make or save their company money. It is the most rewarding inside sales position I have ever had, and will ever have. I am a Job Recruiter, a Headhunter, and I love it. I wheel and deal people. It is a lot of fun and when you place somebody that absolutely loves their new position, it is hypnotizing. You know the Monster.com commercials? I feel like I am writing the script to those every time I complete the process.

PayScale: How did you get started as a Job Recruiter?
Ryan Cook: I knew if there was any resource I could sell, that would never run out, it would be people. A family friend who was a marketing manager in the telecom industry exposed me to it when I was in college. From then on I was hooked. I knew it would be my career, it was just a matter of when, where, and how I would get into it.

PayScale: What do you like best about being a Job Recruiter?
Ryan Cook: Once, I found a young lady a position that fit what she was doing and what she wanted to do all within a couple weeks of meeting her. It was a whirlwind candidate: found, interviewed, and opportunity presented. She interviewed twice, and was placed in a company and position that she still loves. From that point on it was, “Holy cow, I have to do this as frequently as possible.”

PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as a Job Recruiter?
Ryan Cook: Dealing with a product that is never the same… people. Educating them about what you do can be difficult because it is definitely an industry that you have to be in to understand. It is simple yet complex. It’s as hard as it can be, and as fun as it needs to be.

PayScale: What advice would you give to those wanting to become a Job Recruiter?
Ryan Cook: Do not be shy about it. First take the approach of “I find people for opportunities, I do not find people jobs.” Secondly, our fees hold great value to our clients, don’t ever think the value is not there.

PayScale: What’s the most exciting or crazy thing about being a Job Recruiter ?
Ryan Cook: When you see how much companies pay for the people we get them, and how grateful they are for paying for our provided services. When a company pays a recruiter $75,000 for a candidate it sounds ridiculous. But when the placed candidate can end up bringing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue to the company, who cares how much the finding fee was. It is pittance compared to what was served to the table. It’s like paying for a value meal at McDonald’s and receiving a Thanksgiving feast.