Jul 6, 2023Liked by Felix Lee

Felix, hi! definitely a great article and so needed in our industry. thanks for empowering your readers.

As a "headhunter" of 20+ years, and, the founder of a longstanding design + product recruitment agency, I do want to lovingly push back on your advice to jobseekers to work around their headhunter and negotiate their salary directly. (TL/DR - don't do it. here's some reasons why, below.)

Negotiating for yourself is always trickier / scarier - the vast majority of our candidates are relieved that we're handling that, versus them - and I would also argue it yields lower results / salaries, versus having someone who is going to bat for you, who's got negotiation experience - sometimes, many years of it.

A headhunter's ability to keep a clear, single line of communication between the client (company) and candidate, through EVERY step of the process, including at negotiation time, is so key to the candidate's ultimate success and a happy outcome to the negotiation, as we know where both parties stand. Having that inner crucial knowledge allows us be much more effective in getting both sides to a yes. "Knowledge is power", after all.

A candidate going around us and cutting us out of the conversations, at any point of the process but especially at offer time, is "fighting words" - this would absolutely ruin a relationship between us and that candidate. In contrast, a happy and generative relationship with their recruiter behooves the candidate in the end.

Case in point: we've placed many designers in multiple jobs throughout many years of their careers, and have become trusted partners to them (as well to the hiring managers at companies looking to hire designers). And we can offer invaluable insights into each client and what they're like and what they look for - stuff you'd maybe never glean on your own without us - and, in many cases, give you individual support on your resume and/or portfolio (if we have a job we're working on with you), many times for free, because we're in it together, and you getting the job benefits us both.

Why throw that all away with an illy-advised desire to take things in your own hands, especially when that oftentimes won't yield the result you want?

Assuming that headhunters will fumble the ball is such an old, tired story, and while yes, there are plenty of bad ones out there, also take heart that there are plenty of good ones out there too. It's up to you, the jobseeker, to do your due diligence on which headhunters / agents you want to attach your personal brand to, and who align with your values.

Wishing everyone all the best out there! It's a tough market, but I've seen the ups and downs, and they always even out in the end. Take heart we'll all get through this together.

Expand full comment

Joanne, this is an incredible perspective to hear from a headhunter/recruiter! It's always great to get a different point of view so candidates know how to best optimize. Thanks for this thoughtful feedback comment, Joanne!

Expand full comment

Really helpful advises, especially I loved the point of do not dragging negotiation to multiple meetings, knowing your worth as per market value not what you want or need.

Your needs will be differing time to time, so the market value will be. But you have to negotiate keeping the difference between both of them.

Expand full comment