Some job seekers are reluctant to use a professional recruiter. Yet using a headhunter can give you a leg up, because he has inside information and the knowledge of jobs before they are advertised. Here is how you can work successfully with a headhunter:

Consider using a specialist: If you work in finance, find a headhunter who deals with finance folks all day long, as she will have a solid understanding of what you are talking about, what the prospective employer is looking for and how to coach you.

Be careful: Do not give out confidential information about yourself or your employer on the phone without having met the headhunter or knowing for which company he works. Also, find out how your headhunter works: If she shares résumés without asking the candidates first, that could be an issue.

Don't spread yourself too thin: Try to stick with a maximum of three headhunters. Headhunters may not be as willing to share your information if they know you're working with their competitors too. On the other hand, working with too many recruiters may give the impression that you're desperate.

Be prepared: Some candidates come to the interview late, badly dressed or with an outdated résumé, with the excuse of, "Yeah, but that is only because you are the headhunter. I would never do that for the real interview." This is not how you will motivate a headhunter to find you a job. Prepare for the headhunter meeting as you would for an interview.

Be honest: Just as with a prospective employer, don't try to hide anything or lie. If a headhunter finds out that a candidate is lying, he will likely stop the interview and may even blacklist the candidate. You should be completely transparent, and if there are bumpy parts in your career, your headhunter can help talk you through how to explain them to the prospective employer.

Like us or leave us: If you are not on the same wavelength as your headhunter, the headhunter is likely feeling the same way. You want to find someone with whom you feel comfortable going to bat for you. If you don't trust or like your recruiter, don't be afraid to keep looking.

Keep in touch: Even if you do not get the first job you applied for through a headhunter, that doesn't mean you won't get the next one. But remember that headhunters do have other clients, so you shouldn't be afraid to follow up if you haven't heard from them after some time. Remind them in a gentle yet persistent way every other week -- alternating between a phone call and an email.

A good headhunter can help you be more efficient in your job search and has valuable information that can help you succeed.

Jorg Stegemann is a headhunter and his advice blog can be found at

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