Can headhunters stab you in the back by ratting you out?

Coolac's picture
Rank: Monkey | 63

Guys before everyone starts bashing at me, I am going to add a disclaimer. This has been my first experience with headhunters, and I have little friends who have worked in the IBD industry before. Plus, more importantly, I am a paranoid of "Grade A" type. Yep seriously.

I work at a mid-tier BB in IBD and am a first year. All the news of further downsizing at my BB had been mentally wrecking me, so I decided to look for M&A roles in other banks. I came across a posting on a headhunter firm's website and emailed the contact person for that job. My email was very generic:

"Hi,

I am currently working as a 1st year analyst in IBD in a US Investment Bank in [x], and came across this posting. I was curious to seek some more specific details about this job posting, and if this position is still open, I would love to setup a time to talk to you about this in more detail.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Regards"

Afterwards, I linkedin-ed the headhunter, and we have 4 connections in common at my current firm. My concern is that whether headhunters would disclose it to my current colleagues, or my firm about me reaching out to them for this position? The only reason why I would see them doing so is to get an idea of my current performance before recommending me to the company for which they are trying to fill the position.

I just don't want to end up jobless when applying for a new job if that makes sense. Sorry for the lengthy post - I wanted to give a comprehensive background instead of spitting out bits and pieces of info.

thanks everyone!

Comments (9)

Dec 27, 2012

If headhunters were that careless, they would never get people to work with them. Remember they make money by having their people put into those positions. They will only check references that you give them when/if they want to send you out for a job and then they do so with people you give them.

Dec 27, 2012

That definitely makes more sense. Thank you very much!

Question though: if I was to lateral as a 1st year, what type of references could I expect to give? More importantly, I don't think I would be in the position to go to my team for references because I haven't done anything substantial so far. I have worked in excel and ppt and of course I have gotten the chance to polish those skills, but when it comes to building a merger model, LBO model or even an operating model..no sir.

Dec 27, 2012
Coolac:

That definitely makes more sense. Thank you very much!

Question though: if I was to lateral as a 1st year, what type of references could I expect to give? More importantly, I don't think I would be in the position to go to my team for references because I haven't done anything substantial so far. I have worked in excel and ppt and of course I have gotten the chance to polish those skills, but when it comes to building a merger model, LBO model or even an operating model..no sir.

Really? I did more than that as an intern.... In response to what you originally asked though, headhunters will be confidential up until references are required. If they weren't trustworthy with confidentiality, they would be out of business within hours.

Dec 27, 2012
Asatar:
Coolac:

That definitely makes more sense. Thank you very much!

Question though: if I was to lateral as a 1st year, what type of references could I expect to give? More importantly, I don't think I would be in the position to go to my team for references because I haven't done anything substantial so far. I have worked in excel and ppt and of course I have gotten the chance to polish those skills, but when it comes to building a merger model, LBO model or even an operating model..no sir.

Really? I did more than that as an intern.... In response to what you originally asked though, headhunters will be confidential up until references are required. If they weren't trustworthy with confidentiality, they would be out of business within hours.

Any ideas Asatar on what type of references is one expected to give? thanks to the great economy, the 2 associates that I closely worked with got laid off in Dec.

Dec 27, 2012

Of course, I understand valuations and how to go about them, but I haven't gotten the chance to apply all my knowledge in a live deal scenario. I am assuming you can't expect much from a first year whose only 3 months into the job.

Dec 28, 2012
Coolac:

Of course, I understand valuations and how to go about them, but I haven't gotten the chance to apply all my knowledge in a live deal scenario. I am assuming you can't expect much from a first year whose only 3 months into the job.

3 months? Honestly, you are very inexpensive to your firm, and it is highly unlikely that they will want to fire you except you underperform significantly or they realize that you are considering recruiting outside. Underperforming at your seniority level doesn't mean being able to pitch a multi-billion M&A, or devising a capital structure that makes a 10M fee deal a no brainer to a client, it only means showing energy and interest.

No matter how unlikely that may be, it's better that they fire you in a setting in which you have been working your butt off and showing a lot of interest - therefore making it likely that you will get better references - than in any different way. Job turnover so early in your career could be harmful, unless you have a very solid reason / explanation for it.

Dec 28, 2012
SenhorFinance:
Coolac:

Of course, I understand valuations and how to go about them, but I haven't gotten the chance to apply all my knowledge in a live deal scenario. I am assuming you can't expect much from a first year whose only 3 months into the job.

3 months? Honestly, you are very inexpensive to your firm, and it is highly unlikely that they will want to fire you except you underperform significantly or they realize that you are considering recruiting outside. Underperforming at your seniority level doesn't mean being able to pitch a multi-billion M&A, or devising a capital structure that makes a 10M fee deal a no brainer to a client, it only means showing energy and interest.

No matter how unlikely that may be, it's better that they fire you in a setting in which you have been working your butt off and showing a lot of interest - therefore making it likely that you will get better references - than in any different way. Job turnover so early in your career could be harmful, unless you have a very solid reason / explanation for it.

SenhorFinance,

Thank you for providing a different angle to the story. I never really thought about it from that perspective.

To be very honest with you and everyone else who was kind enough to provide answers to my query, I am not liking the current coverage team that I am in, and am hoping to switch in the new year. I already approached HR about it, and they said that it might be possible but it might be not. I will know by end Jan if the execution happened.

If the internal switch does not go through, I was hoping to lateral to another bank and start "fresh". But, after going through your post, do you think it might be a good idea that if the headhunter was to get back to me, I should talk to him, and express my interest in lateral-ing around July-Aug time? I should tell him that we should keep in touch. What do you think about that?

Dec 27, 2012

in the future, if you're worried about this, just don't linkedin request your headhunter. the end.

Dec 28, 2012
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