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volume 1, issue 40

Today in loonygames:

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Behind the Curtain:
Hangin' with the Headhunters


By Matt "Thraka" Gilbert


Headhunters are kind of like agents. They know which employers need what kind of employee, do their best to make matches, and take a piece of cash in exchange. Like car salesmen, some are professionals, and some are sleazy. If your BS detector isnít that great, then the only real way to tell whether or not youíre working with a pro or not is to see whether or not he can set you up with a good job and a decent salry.

Youíre unlikely to be very interesting to a headhunter early on, but once you have some experience under your belt, youíll get to know some of them. You donít have to seek them out, usually. They call you. They ask you how you like your job, what kind of money youíre making, etc. In short, all of those questions that urge you to tell the guy to get screwed and hang up on him, especially if the boss is standing right next to your desk at the time.

Donít do that. If the boss is there, and you feel awkward, tell the headhunter that you canít talk right now, and ask him to call you back at home, or tell him to try back in a few months. Donít burn any bridges, because these guys are part of the business, every bit as much as you. Even if youíre happy where you are, a headhunter can still help you out a great deal. Rap with the guy a bit, and if he seems straight, talk some numbers with him. You may be surprised at the things he tells you. Depending on how long you have been in the business, you may be very surprised.

But lets say that you want to move on, and the headhunter says he can help. What can you expect?

Discretion will certainly be something your headhunter will understand, so if you feel it is necessary, then donít be afraid to tell him. I donít take much stock in secrecy, myself, but everyoneís situation is different. There may well be times where you want to make damn certain that he doesnít leave a message with the boss about your interview next week.

No doubt, the headhunter will have several prospects for you, or he wouldnít be wasting his time. First, he will want an up-to-date resume to shop around. If you donít have one on hand, youíre already behind, so go make one.

In a few days, heíll have some responses, and will probably want to set up an interview. Often, there will be a phone interview first, and if the prospective employer is still interested, a face to face interview will be arranged.

Itís a good idea to talk with the headhunter beforehand about how much money you should be asking for. The question is certainly likely to come up at an interview, and you donít want to low ball yourself, or ask for too much. The headhunter has a good idea of how much the position should pay, and he also knows how much of a fee he will collect. Usually, the employer will pay the headhunter a percentage of whatever salary you wind up with. No, it doesnít come out of what you get paid. Itís a separate deal between the headhunter and the employer. Now, you might worry that since the headhunter gets a fee, you might wind up getting a lower offer. Maybe so. But maybe you wouldnít have been able to negotiate as much, either. Itís a bit like selling a house. The real estate agent takes a chunk off the top, but he works to get the price up as much as he can, too, because the more you get, the more he gets.

An important thing to understand is that the headhunter does not give you a job, okay? He sets you up with interviews, and he certainly will do his best to sell you, but thatís all he can do. The rest of the task is your responsibility.

Next time: Embracing Your Inner Idiot


- Matt 'Thraka' Gilbert is a console programmer, currently working at StormFront Studios. These are his own ravings, and have nothing whatsoever to do with his employer.

Credits: Beaker's Bent logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Behind the Curatain is © 1999 Matt Gilbert. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it. And ignore the man behind the curtain. He's just got a shotgun aimed at your head...nothing to get alarmed about.