"Unemployed and Underappreciated"
04/26/24 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I recently lost my job at #MillerKnoll, like a lot of other people, in Q1 this year. I was in sales in the Midwest.  For some reason it seems to hurt even more, now that #MillerKnoll’s fiscal year is soon ending….and I’m not there.

As part of my search for a new job, I’ve reached out to you and a bunch of recruiters, and I feel like I’m getting the brush off. Isn’t it your job to help me find a job? I’ve sent my resume out to a lot of people. Somebody at your company was one of the few people to even talk to me on the telephone. But I got a non-answer, answer. Sort of like “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Funny enough, when a recruiter is looking to fill a position in my territory, they don’t hesitate to call me and ask me “who do I know who might be good for this job?” Which I take as code for “are you interested in this job?” Even though the headhunters are giving me the brush off, I’ve been getting a lot of interviews on my own. Maybe I’m just not “fee worthy.” Even with interviews on my own: still no job offers. What gives?

How do I get on a recruiter’s radar to get a job?

Unemployed and Underappreciated
Dear Unemployed,

I’m sorry that you feel unappreciated by recruiters. I know that every recruiter, including our competitors, feel badly when we hear someone has lost their job and we’d love to be able to help you.

However here is what you need to understand, and I’m sure most of my fellow recruiters would agree that our client, the company paying our fee, is our customer. So, any executive search firm, be it contingency or retainer based, or placement agency, does not have a responsibility to find you a job – they need to find the very best person for their client, and hopefully that will be you for many jobs.

People looking for a job, especially when they’re unemployed, presume that any kind of placement service can help them find a job. They can’t. It does not make you less desirable because you’re unemployed. But there is a bias against paying a fee for a candidate that is unemployed by a hiring authority. As you have read in this space before, virtually every company has a talent acquisition department, and if they’re not big enough to have a talent acquisition department, they have a talent acquisition person that you should be uploading your resume directly to, even when you do not see an opening local to you. Candidates are controlling the market today, you’re still valuable.

There are also parts of the country where networking wins over recruiters any day of the week. For instance, if you’re in the Chicago market, because the Merchandise Mart is there with showroom on top of showroom, as well as the Fulton Street area, the biggest companies all tend to network and hire directly within that marketplace. The same thing applies in New England, where everybody seems to know everybody else. But when it comes to Dallas, New York City, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, LA, Charlotte, and High Point; it takes a good headhunter to poach a good candidate to go from one company to its competitor. And I think all good recruiters have opening in those markets today.

I hope this explanation sheds a little light on the mystery. I don’t think it’s personal to you. I think you’re relying on the headhunter to help you find a job when you need to be doing that yourself. I’m always happy to talk to anybody, so if you just want some career advice, or tips on your resume or how to find a job on your own, you can call me at The Viscusi Group in New York City, and I’ll point you in the right direction.


Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of www.viscusigroup.com, an executive search firm that specializes in the interior furnishings industry. Hires made through The Viscusi Group are guaranteed a one-year free replacement. Please share your story or comment on this article and send your workplace questions to stephen@viscusigroup.com. Or give us a call at (212) 979-5700 x 101.

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