You should also expect honesty from your recruiter.
"If we can't help someone, we'll tell them," says Ralph Westerhoff, executive vice president of Brickwork Consulting in New York.
A referral from a friend who has successfully worked with a recruiter is the best way to find a headhunter. The friend will put in a good word for you and tell you how the recruiter works.
"From a recruiter's perspective, the best thing is to be referred by someone we know," says Scott Simmons, vice president at Crist Associates in Chicago. "We're inundated with e-mails, and while I'm open to a face-to-face courtesy meeting, I always tell people it's best to be referred by someone we know."
When you've lined up an interview, research the company. If it's publicly traded, read the quarterly and annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Most companies file electronically, and the information is available at no cost online. Check the company's Web site for the basics, and if it's not publicly traded, read all relevant newspaper and magazine articles.
"You have to understand the company," says Maryanne Rainone, senior vice president and managing director at Heyman Associates in New York. "You've got to know what the company makes or does and know its brands. You've got to know the competition, too."
Nail down the basics before the interview. The smart candidate uses the information to jump to the next level: This is what I can do for you. But don't tell your prospective boss how to run the company--that's the fatal mistake of the inexperienced or rampantly egotistical.
Be prepared to talk about your aspirations with your prospective boss. It's not enough to say you want to work overseas. You've got to tie your desire to work in London, Paris or Berlin to the company's fortunes and link it to your career path. No company will send you overseas to see the sights. Recruiters say many candidates miss this obvious point.
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