Start at the Top

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter encourages you to do what headhunters are trained to do — start at the top.


This is one of those classic tips. It’s absolutely timeless. I’ll talk with you about how I’ve been trained as a recruiter to give you a sense of why I’m suggesting this.

I’ve been a recruiter for more than 40 years and, again, no disrespect to HR, I was always trained to circumvent HR– to try and go directly to hiring managers, to go the top of the organization and work my way down from there, to have the management of that organization, the management of that function, tell HR that they want to work with me, rather than have HR decide that they wanted to work with me.

Why was that important? Because HR is …the term as a gatekeeper, but it’s a really a misnomer. Human resources is designed to to shield hiring managers from decisions and to save them time. Some are exceptional, but they tend to be the exceptions. Most are average, they are overworked, overwhelmed and have too much on their plate and very rules driven. Discernment is not their strong suit; again, no disrespect to HR, but recognize that the typical day for HR professionals may involve interviewing X number of people, returning phone calls, trying to get a clearer picture of what a particular hiring manager’s doing, writing reports on the interviews that he or she did the previous day… on and on and on with a lot of drudgery.

It’s hard to maintain the sense of life and not become a bureaucrat. In contrast, the hiring manager has a vested interest in bringing on the best talent, not that HR doesn’t, but they are measured in different ways. They’re critiqued in different ways versus the hiring manager who was exceptional talent.

My encouragement to you is to do like what I was taught – – start at the top work and your way down. If you are a marketing professional, contact the CMO over the organization. If you are a salesperson, contact the head of sales of that organization. If you work in IT, contact the chief technology officer or the CIO of the organization.

Start at the top and work your way down. Make sure that you understand what it is that you’re asking for when you contact them and don’t just simply wander in your like a jerk, completely unprepared because all that you do is waste then is waste your time and theirs. A simple thing to say when contacting them is, ” I understand that your organization might benefit from. I’m an individual who’s been doing this for X number of years with so and so. I’d like to speak with you about what I’m capable of. Can we schedule time to do that? What would work best for you?” It’s that simple.

It was three, maybe four sentences in total. You want to rehearse this so it sounds natural and NOT rehearsed. Natural but not rehearsed.


Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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