What You Need to Know about Search Firms before You Sign Up

If you are struggling to find a job you may start thinking about working with a search firm. This can be a wise idea for some, but it is important to follow a few rules. First, let’s take a look at the two types of search firms.


Contingency Search Firms

These types of firms are not hired by a company and they are only paid if their candidate (you) is hired. They usually work within a salary range of $30,000 to $80,000 and can charge companies up to 30% of their client’s starting salary. Contingency search firms are often aggressive in their recruiting efforts.


What does this mean for you?

You may end up on many job interviews that do not align with your goals or needs because of the commission-based setup. Often times, your confidentiality may be at risk as well.


Retained Search Firms

Retained firms are hired directly by companies to identify highly-qualified candidates on an exclusive basis. They usually specialize by function or industry and work with people that will be making $75,000 or more per year. Retained search firms charge a 30-35% fee to the hiring employer.

What does this mean for you?


Retained recruiters are selective about candidates and confidentiality is assumed. If you are contacted by a recruiter form a retained search firm they already have a specific job in mind for you.


Now that you know the different types of search firms, be sure to follow these 6 rules:

  1. Never pay a recruiter.
  2. Always ask if the recruiter is contingent or retained.
  3. Ask the recruiter to tell you something about the firm and their career.
  4. Ask how many searches the recruiter is currently managing.
  5. Ask the recruiter to visit the website of the firm they are presenting to you together.
  6. Check closely to find out who pays the search fee – you or the company.

Remember, search firms can be a valuable tool for many people; however, they require awareness on your part. At Hire Heroes USA, we recommend that you only work with retained search firms. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a recruiter do some research and always feel free to contact your Veteran Transition Specialist.

10 Tips for Writing a Resume that Stands Out

10 Tips for Writing a Resume that Stands Out

A professional and polished resume is essential for your job search, as it is your primary opportunity to catch a hiring manager’s attention.

A good resume should demonstrate that your experience and qualifications fit the job description, prove your ability to perform the job in question, illustrate your accomplishments, and show your potential to have a positive impact. A bad resume does just the opposite, often times catching a hiring manager’s attention in a negative way. Below are 10 simple guidelines to follow when creating your resume to make sure that it stands out for the right reasons.

  • 1. Create a resume that speaks to employers’ needs within the job description.
  • 2. Keep your resume to 2 pages or less; label the second page.
  • 3. Ensure your contact information is up to date and your email address is professional.
  • 4. Show off your military background, but if you were in active combat leave out the details.
  • 5. Always assume the hiring manager knows nothing about the military; avoid military jargon and utilize civilian terminology.
  • 6. Showcase your track record of accomplishments and quantify them when possible.
  • 7. Use power words whenever possible such as: involved with, contributed to, served on, directed.
  • 8. Include relevant education, training, or technical skills that would benefit the job you are applying to.
  • 9. Do not list references on your resume. Instead, create a separate document to send to an employer if asked.
  • 10. Always get feedback on your resume before submitting it anywhere.

You can learn more about how to craft a professional resume in our resume writing workshop PowerPoint or by participating in one of our in-person Warrior Transition Workshops. For an example of polished resume, view our Operations Manager sample.

The Next Less Obvious Step in Your Job Search

You completed your resume, practiced your interview skills, and began the job hunt. What now? An informational meeting, when successfully conducted, can be your next best step to a successful career. We’ve answered the most common questions about informational meetings below to help you take the next step.


What is an informational meeting?


An informational meeting is a stress-free interview that gives you the opportunity to learn from someone in a particular field or industry, get feedback on your resume and experience, and practice your value proposition. An informational meeting can be with someone you know personally, someone you were referred to, or a person that you have targeted in a company or industry that interests you.


Why should I set one up?


Many positions are never advertised. Informal discussions in the form or informational meetings are one way to discover these job opportunities. Further, by participating in professional dialogue with someone you are building your network, gaining strategic insight and advice about your chosen career, and building your confidence.


How do I organize it?


It is always easier to obtain an informational meeting if it is not setup as an interview, but as an opportunity to gain information. By creating a relaxed environment, you open up the door for two-way communication. There are 3 ways to ask for a meeting with someone.

  1. The “John Smith suggested I call you” approach.
  2. The “changing career directions from military to civilian” approach.
  3. The “advice on my job search” approach.

The latter two approaches are cold-calls, meaning you have no referral. In each of the approaches be sure to state your name, why you are reaching out to the particular person, and what conversation you would like to set up. Remember to always stress that you are simply looking to gain knowledge and receive feedback.


What do I talk about?


You set up the meeting, so you need to engage the other person with relevant topics. You may use the topics and questions below as conversation starters.

  • Trends, Business Conditions, and Changes

What are some long-term trend affecting your industry?

With these trends, what qualifications are managers looking for?


  • Career Focus and Transition

What do you think would be a logical step based on my resume?

With my background, to whom do you think I should be talking with?


  • Resume Feedback

What was your first reaction to my resume?

Does this resume say enough about my quantifiable results?


  • Job Search Strategies

What suggestions might you have for my job search exploration?

What industries for you think I should be exploring?


What do I do after?


Like any interview, you should always send a thank you note after an informational meeting. You can opt for a hand-written thank you note, an email, or a small gift. This is especially encouraged if your informational meeting led to another referral.


Many people skip this next step in the job search process because they lack confidence, feel embarrassed, or simply don’t understand the power of informational interviews. It takes a real professional to grasp and implement the idea. By garnering the confidence to seek out opportunities and advice, you can put yourself on the path to a new a career.