09 June, 2010

Yes, Consultants, Headhunters Know Self-Employment Is The New Unemployment - And Yes, They'll Still Call You If You're Good

Self-employed entrepreneurs and solopreneurs often ask me if starting their own company signals employers, recruiters and headhunters not to call them about job openings.

Many of these self-employed consultants and solopreneurs had entrepreneurship thrust upon them when they were downsized out of those comfortable $75k to $100k middle class jobs that aren’t coming back. What these downsizing victims are really asking is “Do headhunters know that I’d jump at the chance to get back into a $75k job?”

Yes, accidental entrepreneurs, headhunters know that self-employment is the new unemployment. Go ahead and put on a good show. Print your business cards, write your blog, build a website. Fake it until you make it or until a headhunter calls you with a $60k job that used to be a $90k job. Headhunters know that nobody is unemployed anymore, everybody is a consultant and, yes, they'll still call you about job openings if you're good.

Yes, reluctant solopreneurs, headhunters will still call you about job opportunities even if you’re trying real hard to look like you’d never go back to working a “real job” because headhunters know that, while there are exceptions, most of the self-employed consultants aren’t doing as well on their own as they did when they worked for The Man.

And, no, don’t send unsolicited resumes to headhunters to assure them you’re still interested in a real job even though you’re trying real hard to keep up appearances as a self-employed consultant. Here’s what goes through a headhunter’s mind when you reach out to him: “I’ll be this guy’s sending resumes to everybody.”

Headhunters don’t want to present their clients with candidates who are actively sending resumes to everybody. Why? Simple. Clients don’t pay headhunters to bring them the candidates they can get on their own just by running an ad on Dice or CareerBuilder. Clients pay headhunters to bring them passive candidates, candidates who aren’t actively looking for a job. It’s that simple.

At a University of Kentucky “Career Night” a recent grad asked me how to find a headhunter.

“You don’t find the headhunter”, I said, “the headhunter finds you.” Then I added “but not for a few years, because, the truth is, clients also don’t pay headhunters to bring them new grads. Clients pay headhunters to bring them experienced, proven talent.”

Learn to think like a headhunter. If you were a headhunter and you were looking for someone with your skills and experience, how would you start your search? You’d go to Linkedin and specify some geographic parameters and then you’d put in some search terms that would likely appear in the Linkedin profiles of the kinds of candidates you seek. Right? So pack your Linkedin profile with the kinds of search terms a headhunter would use if he wanted to find you.

Don’t worry that your recent self-employment will scare headhunters away. It won’t. Headhunters know that self-employment is the new unemployment so they know you’ll take the call.

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