Friday, December 21, 2007

Resume Writer, Career Coach, Recruiter, Executive Agent?

There are many types of professionals in the careers industry. While there can be some overlap, I thought it would be useful to clarify the jobs and roles of each professional.

Resume writers generally work for individual clients and are paid by the client to develop (and sometimes distribute) their job search documents. Resume writers may refer clients to recruiters, and may be paid a "finder's fee" for those clients, if they are placed. Resume writers may provide career coaching (either paid or unpaid). Some resume writers also do recruiting, although most do it in a "staffing agency" capacity, not as a "recruiter" per se.

Career coaches may also write resumes, although there is a definite subset of the profession that believes the client should write his/her own resume, and the coach will help "guide" them in this process. Very few career coaches that I know of function as either recruiters or executive agents.

Recruiters, in the traditional model, are paid by employers to find candidates to fill job openings. Some recruiters (also sometimes called "headhunters") will not accept unsolicited resumes from candidates; it is a "badge of honor" for some top-level recruiters to source the really-hard-to-find-candidates -- and these recruiters will find you; you don't find them. Some recruiters will work with resume writers; others see no need for resume writers ("we have our own format we use"). Most legitimate "recruiters" will not charge the candidate a fee; instead, they are paid by the employer.

The Executive Agent is the newest type of careers professional. Modeled on the professional sports agent, or entertainment industry agent, these individuals are paid by the job seeker (often a fee of $1000-$5000). The best known in the careers industry is Debra Feldman, although it could be argued that any of the top careers professionals that offer comprehensive resume writing/career coaching/job search assistance/resume distribution services fall into this category. The Executive Agent is not to be confused with the Bernard Haldane model, where job seekers pay a large fee to gain "exclusive access to the hidden job market." Instead, the Executive Agent model is much more proactive and directed, and relies heavily on the agent's network of contacts.

I wanted to define these different roles because of a question on one of the professional association listservs about the Top Gun Executive Group. From the website description, it appears the owner, Craig Chrest, is an Executive Agent, although he calls himself a recruiter. It's unclear from the site whether he also collects a fee from the hiring employer, which would put him in a sort of "dual agency" model.

In the same way that recruiters are sometimes dismissive of the services of resume writers and career coaches ("If the job seeker was any good, they wouldn't need someone to write their resume; we'd find them on our own"), resume writers (and career coaches) have to be careful not to be too dismissive of "executive agents" just because they charge clients a lot of money.

However, I foresee a time in the future when Executive Agents will be compensated like sports agents or entertainment agents ... with a percentage of the client's salary (similar to how recruiters are currently paid). Except, instead of the employer paying, it will be the job searcher. I'm not sure if the sports/entertainment industry standard of 15% will fly in this instance, but Executive Agents can expect to be well compensated for the role they make in helping highly compensated professionals and executives effectively find their next job.


  1. I want to clarify the point about Debra Feldman, JobWhiz, executive talent agent. I do not rely on my personal rolodex to connect clients. Rather I develop a positioning for every client that defines their target employer market and then personally research the appropriate contacts in this industry sector. Then, using my corporate intelligence and sleuthing skills, I seek out the hiring decision makers that need to know my client and establish an introductory meeting for my client and the hiring authority, not HR, to share mutual interests. I build a new network of connections specifically tailored for each client that will produce leads to the types of new career challenges they want next. Enabling clients to Network Purposefully gets them on the radar screens and connected to inside contacts which accelerates job searching and advances their careers with a strong and more productive focus.

    Posted by Debra Feldman,

  2. The Top Gun Executive Group works directly for the candidate client. The goal is to put that individual in the a job that best suits their skills. We do not charge a fee to the company we are marketing an individual...but hope a long term relationship can be established once a candidate client takes the new position. We are a true professional agaent

    1. Wire fraud carries a maximum 30 year term in federal prison

  3. 1/4/10

    I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area and, due to the nature of my quite visible news media spokesperson and crisis manager experience, became (over the years) quite often asked to lecture at UOP, Golden Gate U, UC Davis Ext., Bulldog Reporter and industry forums, and get informal inquiries for counsel (BART, Water World, refineries, etc.), but have never, not once, ever heard from a recruiter or headhunter of any kind for any reason. I spoke with Smooch Reynolds at a PRSA mtg once, but other than that, have never even seen such a person. I don't know what they do, who they are, how they operate, or if they even exist. So, these folks claiming to be building networks and having special knowledge of the field, etc., do not seem all that credible to me. Were I a major employer, I wouldn't waste my money. Our firm, The Stockdale Group, does not.
    --- JES

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