If there was ever a name more aptly deserved I know not to what creature it belongs. If you're in IT and you’re looking for a job you will most likely have to deal with this crafty foe. I've often thought looking for a job was like looking for a car. You’re excited about the prospect of driving a nice car with all the perks and gadgets that come along with it. You've been dreaming all night of that shiny new ride and when you wake up in the morning you rush to the dealer and Wham! You hit a frustrating brick wall known as the sales person. Well so it is in IT with the headhunter. In fact the headhunter you’re working with could very well be the same sales person from the car lot who was trying to squeeze you into that gas guzzler you really didn't want. Used cars and IT people, it’s all the same right? I wish I could put one of those cute smiley faces here indicating that I was joking but alas, the truth is scarier than sarcasm.


If you have been in the networking field for a little while I'm sure you've seen the ads: 'CCNA or CCIE preferred'. Say what?!?! Does this person know what they are talking about? The quick answer, no. To most headhunters the only difference between a CCNA and a CCNP is the 'A' and 'P' at the end. Of course they are keenly aware that the P's make more money (for them) than the A's, but that is as far as their technical savvy takes them.


I've had candid discussions with headhunters about how they qualify candidates. Surely they must have some type of technical staff that evaluate resumes and understands who are qualified for what positions. After all that is a big part of what they are getting paid (a lot) for right? To qualify job seekers so the company with the open position doesn't have to go through all the hassle. I mean, this isn't a high tech blind dating service they're running here is it? ? Well maybe they're not quite blind, but they could probably use a few lessons from match.com or eHarmony. Primarily they just try to match the job description given to them by the client to the resumes they receive for the position. Of course not having a technical background often makes this quite challenging for them. Some headhunters use software that searches for the latest techy cash bag keywords to match resumes with jobs. That's why I would recommend you include the acronyms of the certifications you have as well as the complete names spelled out, just in case their searching for only one or the other. But always remember these are not technical people, they are sales people. So if you’ve got a nice looking resume and some freshly polished teeth, you’re in the lineup Baby!


So, what does it take to navigate this quagmire and get that dream job with the dream salary? Well mostly patience, professionalism, and an understanding of the playing field. But don't worry; you're already ahead of the game by beginning to understand what you’re dealing with. In the following posts we’ll go over the playing field and how to negotiate with headhunters. But bring your nose clips; this might get a little messy.



Jason Dowd is a Network Architect for a large health system in South Florida and an independent consultant who helps enterprise clients design and implement leading-edge technologies. Mr. Dowd has achieved a number of industry certifications including CCNP, CCDP, CCVP, CCSP, Sniffer Certified Professional and ITIL Foundation Certified in IT Service Management.