Ask the Headhunter

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Interview with Nick Corcodilos

Corporate Headhunter Interview with Nick Corcodilos

In all the people we coach and influence questions come up constantly about how to work with recruiters and headhunters. Without editing the raw advice I wanted to have a conversation with Nick Corcodilos, the brash, oft quoted and powerfully connected headhunter and management consultant from Ask the Headhunter. Just like any advice you may find online or in a blog, take what you think makes sense to you and customize what you use if it makes sense to you. Or better yet distill powerful points of view with your career coach and search advisory board which we recommend at CareerPro Inc.

But Nick holds a powerful reputation and he’s not afraid to be bold, telling it exactly how he sees it. It’s refreshing even if you disagree. To start off 2015, let’s see what he boldly has to say.

John M. O’Connor: What do you feel are the best ways executive jobseekers can qualify recruiters who could be their asset in 2015?

Nick Corcodilos: The problem is there are too many people who call themselves headhunters or recruiters – when they don’t really recruit. They’re dialing for dollars, e-mailing and calling lists of people without knowing who they’re calling. That’s not recruiting. In How to Work with Headhunters, there’s an entire section titled “How to judge a headhunter” (or recruiter). The main idea is, you should check their references just as they check yours, or don’t do business with them. Who are their clients? Who are a few candidates they’ve placed successfully? Then call those people and inquire. Just because you’re desperate for a job doesn’t mean you should walk blind or do business with “recuiters” you don’t know. Your identity and reputation are your most valuable professional assets. Any good headhunter or recruiter will be happy to provide references. Don’t let a fast-talking “recruiter” tell you there’s no time!


John M. O’Connor: Why you feel people over 40 and over 50 can effectively change careers in 2015?

Nick Corcodilos: Simply because of their long and deep histories of experience and success. The problem is, employers ask about a person’s resume and experience. They don’t ask how you will contribute to their business. So it’s up to the older applicant to bring this up. Show the employer how you’ll do the job in a way that impacts the bottom line. In the end, that’s what all employers want, even if they aren’t savvy enough to ask!

In Fearless Job Hunting, Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire I explain how a job seeker can turn a resume into a business plan and an interview into a working meeting where the employer hires you after seeing exactly what you can do. Any seasoned worker can do this when pursuing a job. Or they can send out 100 online applications a day and wait.

In How Can I Change Careers? I explain how to use “the library vacation” to target your next job. Will people think I’m nuts to tell them they should go to the library? Probably – but I’ve been doing this since 1979. Longer than most people have been job hunting. And this method works.


John M. O’Connor: What should change in the applicant tracking system world to ensure the best people are hired? Is there any hope that this gets more people oriented and people friendly in 2015?

Nick Corcodilos: HR won’t like my answer: HR needs to get out of the automated recruiting business and start doing this critical task manually. Get out from behind that computer display, stop diddling the LinkedIn database, and stop relying on dumb applicant tracking systems like Taleo. You’re not looking at candidates! You’re wasting your time with keywords while your competitors are out there, in the real world, meeting and talking to the people they want to hire. ATSes will never get more “people oriented.” Software doesn’t do that. Employers must do it themselves. (See my blog post, Employment In America: WTF is going on?)

The answer to “the flood of applicants that require technology to process” will stop – when HR stops using ATSes to solicit random applicants by the thousands. It’s time to make recruiting personal again. The proof is simple: While HR wastes time with job boards, it also pays headhunters like me $30,000 to fill a $100,000 job. See the disconnect? There are over 20 million Americans unemployed and under-employed who are actively seeking full-time jobs – and there are only about 3 million jobs vacant. HR has all those workers to choose from – but cries there’s a talent shortage! See the disconnect? HR’s head is stuck in databases!


John M. O’Connor: As the job market seems to be making a comeback what concerns you about recruiting and headhunting tactics this year?

Nick Corcodilos: The job market is not making a comeback. Wages and salaries are lower and employers are filling more part-time jobs – not real jobs. We should be very worried about the truth of this economy. But from a headhunter’s standpoint, nothing ever really changes. We fill only about 3% of open jobs, and we charge top dollar – up to a third of a new hire’s salary. Even in down times, employers need to fill key positions and will pay headhunters to fill them – because their own HR departments are busy reading databases rather than recruiting. So there’s no change in tactics. Our job continues to be recruiting through trusted referrals and contacts. It’s what the best headhunters do. HR could do this itself, but doesn’t know how. HR gets paid to fill the pipeline with resumes. Headhunters get paid only when we fill jobs.


John M. O’Connor: You have talked a lot about Fearless Job Hunting. How do either confidential or passive jobseekers fearlessly job search and effectively job search this year?

Nick Corcodilos: By meeting and talking with people who do the work they want to do. Job boards and personnel jockeys have brainwashed people to think they can do all this online with forms. The truth hasn’t changed, and it’s why employers pay headunter huge fees: You get hired through strong personal contacts that you must know how to cultivate. In Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3, Get in The Door Way Ahead of Your Competition, I detail methods that enable people to leverage the same kinds of personal contacts headhunters do. The point is to get in the door while your competition is waiting for HR to read their “keywords.”


John M. O’Connor: How important is blogging, social media work and branding to careers today and what should the smartest job seeker keep in mind for 2015?

Nick Corcodilos: Smart job seekers spend their time in the real world, talking to people face to face. That’s still the gold standard for getting in the door to talk about a job. Blogging, social media and online channels are really nothing but sources of research, and ways to create a reputation. But no reputation is built purely online – you have to make it real in the real world. Get out and mingle and make new friends! That’s where headhunters find their best candidates.


John M. O’Connor: I realize your advice goes beyond this year but I would like to know more about what you see as the biggest opportunities and obstacles to career transition and recruiter interaction right now and for this year.

Nick Crocodiles: The flood of online job listings and resumes and LinkedIn profiles keeps personnel departments busy wasting their time reviewing keywords all day long. The big opportunity for smart job seekers is to avoid all that and skip past the competition. Do what headhunters do: Go talk directly to hiring managers. People complain they can’t, that it’s too hard, they have no contacts, they have no time, it’s too much work. Well, of course it is a lot of work. And if you aren’t willing to do the work, you aren’t worth hiring. How’s that for a reality check?

I advise headhunters to stop relying on databases to find their best candidates. Hit the phone! Start talking to people and cultivating strong, reputable contacts. When you work with candidates you find on LinkedIn, your hit rate will be low because you don’t know these people. When I get a personal referral, that person puts their neck on the line to recommend someone – and they will make sure to give me a great candidate. My hit rate goes way up because of that. You can’t get that from a job board. That’s why good headhunters get paid so much. We do what HR won’t do. We get to know the shining lights in the industry who know the best people.


John M. O’Connor: Anything else you would care to add?

Nick Corcodilos: I always promote my books – but most of Ask The Headhunter is free. The website is at The weekly newsletter (now at it’s 560th weekly edition) is also free, at We tackle a new, daunting question each week, then we all discuss it on the blog at Frankly, my subscribers are smarter than I am and they offer better advice – I just give them a great community in which to do it! It’s all free. What I charge for is the detailed “how-to” in my PDF books, and my one-on-one Talk To Nick phone consultations. And, of course, the work I do for my corporate clients. Thanks for your great questions!


Thank you Nick. You provided some powerful information that will cause us to think and create a better path in 2015!



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