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12 Secrets of Executive Recruiters

Whether they call themselves executive recruiters, headhunters, or executive search consultants, they’re the people who help companies fill open positions by finding the best candidate for the job. That means plenty of time spent prospecting for companies, searching for candidates, and staying glued to LinkedIn. We spoke to a few executive recruiters to learn their secrets—from how much they get paid to why they sometimes have a reputation for being less than polite.

1. THEY WORK FOR THE COMPANY, NOT THE JOB SEEKER.

Although interacting with candidates is a big component of their job, executive recruiters are loyal to the company that’s hiring, not the candidate applying for the job. “Many people who call on an executive recruiter feel that when they send us their resume, we stop what we’re doing and work for them as their talent agent,” says Chris Gardner, the CEO and founder of Artemis Consultants. But a recruiter’s only obligation is to their client—the company that’s paying them to find an employee. “So if the candidate doesn’t match any of a company’s existing openings, candidates will most likely not receive the attention they need or want," he tells mental_floss.

2. THEY CAN EARN BIG BUCKS FOR PLACING ONE CANDIDATE.

Like real estate agents, most recruiters work on commission, earning 20 to 30 percent of the candidate’s annual salary. That means that if they place a manager or a CEO, they can earn a large chunk of change. Ryan Cook, a recruiter in Kansas, reveals in an interview with PayScale that he understands how it might sound ridiculous for a company to pay a recruiter as much as $75,000 for a candidate. “But when the placed candidate can end up bringing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue to the company, who cares how much the finding fee was,” he says.

3. THEY SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH EXCEL.

Depending on their size, recruiting firms may conduct hundreds of searches each year, considering candidates for jobs around the world. Since recruiters have a ton of data to keep organized and readily accessible, spreadsheets are an integral tool that helps them do their job. Recruiters will make (and regularly update) lists of potential companies, job openings, and candidates, hoping to find the one perfect person for a given job spot. And even if a company passes on one of their candidates, recruiters keep the names and contact information of good candidates in their spreadsheets for future opportunities.

4. THE WORD THEY HEAR MOST OFTEN IS “NO.”

Whether they’re cold-calling a potential client or emailing a candidate about a job opening, recruiters face a lot of rejection. Because they hear the word “no” so often, successful recruiters are persistent, persuasive, and have a thick skin.

“You are constantly selling yourself to new clients,” Cindy Picciano, an executive recruiter at Ability Professional Network, tells mental_floss. “On the candidate side, especially if they are not actively looking, you are selling yourself as someone worthwhile to speak to—to open up and share intimate information about their career dreams, compensation, and personal/family objectives,” she adds.

Once recruiters find a candidate that matches a job opening, they must convince the candidate that they should work at the company. "That’s a lot of selling,” Picciano says.

5. THEY’RE ADDICTED TO LINKEDIN.

According to recruiter Christine Lee, executive search professionals in the late ‘90s relied on cold calls and bought CDs that contained research on candidates. Although making phone calls is still a big part of a recruiter’s job, LinkedIn has revolutionized the field, making it easier for recruiters to find and connect with job candidates. “Today, instead of being attached to the phone all day, executive recruiters lurk in LinkedIn every day. We’re addicted to it,” Lee writes. Those who pay for LinkedIn’s Recruiter Tool can send messages to candidates, see the jobs that they’ve applied to via LinkedIn previously, and look at profiles for red flags such as incompleteness and gaps in employment.

6. DEALING WITH DEJECTED OR DISHONEST JOB SEEKERS DRAINS THEIR ENERGY.

According to recruiter Mark Wayman, it’s not uncommon for unemployed executives to whine about their situation. Job seekers who have bad attitudes and blame others (such as former bosses or difficult spouses) for being out of work make it harder for recruiters to place them at a company. And because they’re not career coaches, most recruiters have neither the time nor the desire to offer encouragement to sullen job seekers.

To make matters worse, some job seekers even lie to recruiters about their previous salary or about being laid off versus fired. Wayman’s advice? “Quit complaining and move on. Bitter is not attractive, and it [is] one of the top issues I see in unemployed executives,” he writes on The Huffington Post.

7. THE BURNOUT RATE IS HIGH.

Although new recruiters may be enthusiastic about using their people skills and negotiation chops to rack up commissions, most recruiters don’t stay in the profession for long. Experts estimate that 70 to 90 percent of recruiters choose to leave the profession in their first year of work. The reasons for the high burnout rate are complex, but recruiters who don’t cut it may feel discouraged by multiple rejections or realize that their temperament isn’t suited to the job. Other recruiters may leave the profession because they're simply not making enough money via commissions.

8. COMPANIES USE THEM AS A LAST RESORT.

Some companies may pay a recruiter a retainer fee, using her services to discreetly fill any open top-level positions that they don’t want to advertise on job boards. But many companies don’t have the resources to pay recruiters a retainer to find candidates, so most companies only use recruiters as a last resort. “The hardest part of our job is finding clients/employers that value search services enough to pay a fee,” Gardner tells mental_floss. Although recruiters must search for candidates, the parallel part of the recruiting business entails searching for clients. “We can’t place candidates without paying customers. And we can’t get paid without finding qualified candidates that meet our clients’ preferred profiles,” Gardner says.

9. THEY’RE CONSUMMATE SPIN DOCTORS.

Most recruiters are honest, respectful, and professional. But to some people, they have a bad reputation. Some recruiters may be brusque when making countless cold calls or dealing with a candidate who isn’t a good match for an open job. And some feel their role as an intermediary between company and candidate gives them leverage to get their candidate placed by whatever means necessary. For example, they might gloss over aspects of a candidate that don’t fit with the company, or push candidates to accept a lower salary than they wanted to close the deal.

10. THEY’RE LESS COMPETITIVE (WITH EACH OTHER) THAN YOU MIGHT THINK.

Recruiters who are proactive and aggressive are often more successful than more timid ones, but recruiters are less competitive with one another than you might think. If a recruiter can’t find the right candidate for a job opening, she may take advantage of her relationships with other recruiters. When one recruiter refers a candidate to another recruiter, the two recruiters may split the placement fee 50/50. Earning half of a commission is better than earning nothing, so recruiters are motivated to seek partners in other recruiters rather than simply view them as competition.

11. THEY ACCEPT THE REALITY THAT THE BEST CANDIDATE DOESN’T ALWAYS GET THE JOB.

Wayman advises candidates and other recruiters to remember that the job search process isn’t fair. “You get fired, someone else gets your promotion, you don’t get the job interview,” he writes. “Believe me, I see it regularly. A mediocre candidate beats out an outstanding candidate. People that make terrible business decisions just keep on finding jobs.” Although recruiters can’t control which candidate a company ultimately decides to hire, they can choose to focus on what they are able to control—finding and suggesting exceptional, qualified candidates who would be good fits for the company and the role.

12. THEY LOVE SOLVING PROBLEMS FOR THEIR CLIENTS.

Ultimately, successful recruiters enjoy working with people and matching a job seeker to a company. “I love making clients happy. It’s extremely satisfying to know that you’ve solved a problem for them,” Gardner says. Picciano adds that the reward for making a great match between a company and candidate goes beyond simply earning the recruiting fee: “It is knowing that you have been instrumental in positively changing the future for both the company and the individual. That is the true reward!”

All photos via iStock.

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9 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Hollywood Body Doubles
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
Hugh Jackman and his Real Steel body double, Taris Tyler
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When you see the back of an actor’s head in a movie, it may not be the actor you think it is. In addition to stunt performers, most movies employ body doubles (or photo doubles) with a passing resemblance to the principal actors. While some body doubles are brought on set for specific skills—like helping an actor pass as a professional athlete—the job can often involve just being a body, whether that means being nude on camera, having photogenic hands, or appearing in place of actors who can’t be on set for some reason. Here are nine secrets of the job:

1. THEY MIGHT ONLY BE MODELING ONE BODY PART.

Body double Danielle Sepulveres has played the hands of other actors in plenty of roles in her career, on TV and in beauty commercials featuring close-up shots of her holding moisturizer or makeup. She’s drizzled dressing on salad in place of Brooke Shields. She regularly slides files across tables, makes lists, and pours wine in the place of actresses on The Good Wife. (She has also played Jill Flint's butt on the show.) “I knew only glimpses of my hands might make it into a shot, or part of my shoulder along with a wisp of hair,” she wrote of one of her jobs in Good Housekeeping in 2016. But she overheard the director complaining that her wrists looked “vastly different” than those of the principal actress in the movie, 2015’s Mania Days. “Luckily, I didn't get fired in spite of my wrists, but I wouldn't have been surprised had it happened.”

2. THEY’RE NOT JUST THERE TO SHOW THEIR BUTTS.

Yes, body doubles are often brought in if an actor doesn’t want to bare it all on camera. But they are hired for other reasons, too. For one thing, union rules mandate the actors get 12 hours off between when they leave set for the day and their next call time, so if the shoots are running long, the crew might employ someone else to stand in. Other times, it's a matter of particular talents. Most actors may be able to sing, dance, and cry on camera, but few also have the athletic skills to allow them to pass as a sports legend. In Battle of the Sexes (2017), Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King, one of the best tennis players of all time. To realistically represent King’s skills on the court, the movie makers brought in tennis doubles to play in place of Stone and her co-star, Steve Carell. Stone’s double was chosen for her playing style, which resembled King’s, and worked with King on-set to perfect her imitation. The effort was, according to The Wall Street Journal, a huge success. “Not only is the tennis believable, it’s a meticulous representation of the type of tennis played in that era: serve and volley, chipping and charging to the net, touch volleys and soft hands.”

3. ACTORS CAN GET TOUCHY ABOUT WHO PLAYS THEM.

When you are tasked with choosing a celebrity doppelgänger, you’ve got to keep egos in mind. “The choice reflects on the principal actor,” DeeDee Ricketts, the casting director for Titanic, told Vanity Fair in 2016. “We have to take into consideration that they can’t be too thin, or more beautiful, or too heavy, or too old, or else the principal actor will think, That’s how they see me?” Actors often get to give input on who will be their double, and sometimes have final approval rights written into their contracts. When she was being considered for the job of Janet Leigh's body double in Psycho's iconic shower scene, model and Playboy covergirl Marli Renfro had to strip down for both Alfred Hitchcock and Leigh herself so that they could make sure her body looked enough like Leigh's, as Renfro recently revealed at a Brooklyn screening of the documentary 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene. In the case of nude scenes, actors might even have final approval on what physical moves their doubles are allowed to make.

4. THEY MIGHT NEVER MEET THEIR DOUBLE ...

If you’re working as an actor’s double, by definition, you’re not going to have scenes with them, and so some body doubles never meet the stars they’re pretending to be. Danish actor Elvira Friis, who worked as a body double for Charlotte Gainsbourg (and her character’s younger self, played by Stacy Martin) during the racier scenes of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013), never met the actor. “The closest I got to Charlotte Gainsbourg was that I was wearing her dress,” Friis told The Wall Street Journal.

5. OR THEY MIGHT SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH THE PEOPLE THEY'RE PORTRAYING.

But how much time an actor spends with their doppelgänger really depends on the role. Some actors spend plenty of time with their doubles on set helping them get into the role. In What Happened to Monday (2017), Noomi Rapace plays the roles of seven identical sisters, making body doubles a necessity on set. Rapace helped direct her doubles during filming, “as they needed to know how the star would play the scene for each character so that it would sync up when she performed the part herself,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Game of Thrones star Lena Headey (who plays Cersei) worked closely with her double Rebecca Van Cleave for a nude scene in the show’s fifth season finale. Headey walked Van Cleave through her character’s thinking and movements for each shot. Then, Headey did the same performance herself, wearing a beige dress that could later be edited out. In the final product, Headey’s facial expressions were merged with Van Cleave’s nude body.

6. THEY DON’T ALWAYS LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THEIR COUNTERPARTS.

Because body doubles are often only seen from the back or side, they may not look quite as much like their acting counterpart as you’d think. Brett Baker, who worked as Leonardo DiCaprio’s body double for Titanic, is several inches shorter than DiCaprio and seven years older. From the front, you wouldn’t peg him as a Jack Dawson lookalike. But with the same clothes and haircut, shot from above and behind, he passed easily as DiCaprio. Once Leo’s closeups were done, according to Vanity Fair, Baker was often brought in to stand opposite Kate Winslet as she played through her half of the scene. In some cases, he didn’t make it into the final shot at all, but still had to be on set for those 14-hour days.

7. THESE DAYS, THEY GET A BOOST FROM CGI.

With the help of technology, filmmakers can put their leading actor’s face on a body double’s torso, so they don’t have to limit their body doubles to just back-of-the-head or partial shots. This allows them to seamlessly meld both the main actor and the body double’s performances in post-production. That can allow directors to get exactly the scene they want in shows like Orphan Black, which features Tatiana Maslany playing multiple roles, or in cases where actors don't want to get totally naked on-camera. In rare cases, it can also be used to bring actors back from the dead. When Paul Walker died in a car crash midway through filming Furious 7 (2015), the filmmakers used his brothers and another actor as body doubles, superimposing computer-generated images of Walker’s face on their performances. Around 260 shots featuring Walker’s doubles appeared in the final cut.

8. IF AN ACTOR CAN’T ALTER THEIR WEIGHT FOR A ROLE, A BODY DOUBLE CAN FILL IN.

When Matt Damon was filming The Martian (2015), he wanted to lose 30 to 40 pounds to portray astronaut Mark Watney after he had been surviving on meager rations for years. But the filming schedule made that impossible, so a body double had to be brought in for some shots. “I was going to lose a bunch of weight in the third act of the movie, then put the weight back on,” Damon told Maclean’s. However, as the schedule shook out, they filmed the NASA interiors in Hungary, then immediately went to Jordan, which doubled as the Red Planet for the film’s purposes, and shot all the exterior shots from the beginning, middle, and end of the movie, with no time for Damon to lose a significant amount of weight. The skinny body double isn’t on screen for long. “It was, like, two shots,” Damon describes. (Still, fans noticed.)

9. SOMETIMES THEY NEVER MAKE IT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA AT ALL.

When it comes to nude scenes, sometimes body doubles are hired but never used. Veteran body double Laura Grady was cast as Robin Wright’s lookalike for State of Play (2009), but didn’t shoot a single scene. “I just sat in my trailer, ready to go, and then at the end, [Wright] decided to do her own scenes,” Grady told Vulture in 2014. “That happens sometimes. Sometimes they just get a body double because they think they might need one, and then all of a sudden the actress is comfortable and she’s like, ‘No, I’ll just do it.’ Or they change a scene and they don’t make it as risqué.” Don’t worry, though—the double still gets paid.

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9 Secrets of Whole Foods Employees
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With 474 stores across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Whole Foods has cornered the market on organic, high-end groceries. And while the company is currently undergoing changes (such as lowering prices on many items) due to Amazon’s recent acquisition, we got the 411 on what it’s like to work there now. Here’s an inside look at how employees feel about the store’s high prices, why they can’t do much about shoplifters, and what they really do with damaged fruit.

1. THEY HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THE STORE’S PRICES.

Many items at Whole Foods cost more than at other grocery stores, and the company’s “whole paycheck” nickname has some truth to it. While some team members defend the store’s notoriously high prices, others admit that they can’t afford to shop there. As Whole Foods Culinary Content Editor Molly Siegler explains to PopSugar, the store has high standards. “We have a whole team that’s dedicated to using science and really heavy research to figure out what can and can't be in our stores,” she says. “At a minimum, we have no artificial colors, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, and no hydrogenated fats. Every single thing in our stores meets those standards, and often people don't realize that.” Whole Foods also lets customers sample anything before they buy it, return anything for a refund or store credit, and use coupons to lower their grocery bill.

On the other hand, some employees admit that Whole Foods makes high margins on candy (such as fancy marshmallows) and Whole Body products, the section of the store that contains vitamins, supplements, organic makeup, and skincare. “A lot of the things we sell—there’s no way I could buy [them],” an anonymous Whole Foods employee who works at a store in Southern California tells Mental Floss.

2. THEY MIGHT PUT DAMAGED PRODUCE IN YOUR SMOOTHIES.

Whole Foods worker stocking vegetables
JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

The juice and smoothie bar at Whole Foods may look like it offers a tantalizing mix of fresh fruit and pristine vegetables, but the reality might be less than picture-perfect. Employees at some stores reportedly put old fruit and spinach into green smoothies, while others use bruised and damaged apples to make discounted apple juice. Similarly, some stores may put lettuce, tomato, onions, or mixed greens that haven't sold yet (and will go bad in a day or two) in the salad bar.

3. THEY WISH YOU WOULDN’T USE THEM AS YOUR DOCTOR.

Whole Foods’ commitment to health and high-quality products means that some customers treat their visits to the grocery store more like visits to a doctor, pharmacist, or holistic nutritionist. Although employees in the Whole Body department can help you find vitamins and supplements, they can't diagnose you or suggest treatment plans. “I cringe to think about how much money people dump into trying to solve their problems by taking the advice of the perfect-looking community college student in the body and vitamin aisle when what they need is treatment by a medical doctor,” writes a former Whole Foods employee on Gawker.

4. THEY DON’T ACTUALLY MAKE ALL THEIR PREPARED FOOD IN-HOUSE.

people in line at Whole Foods
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

You might assume that employees in each store’s kitchen bake or cook the items you see in the prepared foods section. But that warm loaf of bread, bowl of quinoa salad, or slice of tiramisu that tempts you at lunchtime might not be made in-house. Depending on the location and size of the Whole Foods, some items that appear to be freshly cooked are not. Most bread, for example, is shipped frozen to each store and then baked in an oven. (Bigger stores are more likely to have a full-service kitchen.)

“Little to nothing is actually made from scratch in the Whole Foods bakeries each day,” a former Whole Foods chef writes on her blog. “In the South region, Whole Foods has a huge mass-production kitchen in Alpharetta, GA. If you shop at any Whole Foods in the South and get food off of the hot bar, off of the soup bar, out of the deli case or in pre-packaged containers in the sandwich cooler or refrigerated prepared foods wall, there’s a good chance that your food was actually made in that kitchen in Alpharetta.”

5. THEY LAUGH ABOUT THE “ASPARAGUS WATER” INCIDENT.

A selection of asparagus stalks on wood
iStock

In 2015, some stores notoriously sold asparagus water—a bottle of water with three stalks of asparagus in it—for $6. Customers expressed their outrage on social media, poking fun at the product’s cost and silliness. Whole Foods soon removed the water from shelves, claiming it was a mistake, but the blunder lives on. Asked on Reddit if asparagus water is delicious, a Reddit user named wfmworker replied in the affirmative. “Honestly though, that whole situation didn't even shock me. WF sells some weird stuff.” In 2016, the store removed another $6 item—pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers—after Twitter users mocked the product’s pointlessness and damage to the environment.

6. THEY KNOW HOW TO HACK THE SALAD BAR.

An array of vegetables at a salad bar
iStock

With an assortment of veggies, protein, nuts, and dressings, the salad bar at Whole Foods can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to pay a lot for a small container of food. But because items from the salad bar are priced according to weight, Whole Foods employees have some smart strategies on how to hack it. Some of their tips? Avoid heavier vegetables (like dense cauliflower or broccoli), skip beans, and use less dressing. According to a former Whole Foods Team Member who goes by psh_1_psh_2 on Reddit, you can also use the salad bar to save money on nuts. “The nuts on the salad bar are way less expensive than the nuts in bulk. You could theoretically just fill up your whole salad container with pecans or walnuts and save at least $2/lb,” he says.

7. THEY DEAL WITH SOME CRAZIES.

Whole Foods employees acknowledge that their customer base is unique. In general, the shoppers have a high disposable income, heightened interest in animal welfare, and a desire to support environmentally sustainable farming and fishing practices. But according to employees, it’s not uncommon to encounter customers who are demanding, entitled, or simply overshare their strange beliefs.

“In many cases, these customers have been privileged—financially and often otherwise—all their lives, which means many of them have massive entitlement complexes. It’s kind of hilarious to observe a building full of people who all believe that the world revolves around them,” says the former Whole Foods chef.

A former Whole Foods manager in California tells Thrillist that some customers discussed conspiracy theories with him. “I was so used to crazy people coming in that it became the norm. I had conversations with customers about chemtrails at a freaking grocery store. I had people go off on religious rants about Jews to me—and I'm Jewish, by the way,” he says. “People talk and run their mouths a lot and get too comfortable.”

8. THEY GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS.

Whole Foods employee at sample station with customer
Joe Kohen/Getty Images for Function Drinks

It’s no secret that the store’s items can be pricey, so Whole Foods employees put extra effort into making their customers happy. “I can say as a decorator in the bakery that we give extra time for free to cakes for really nice customers,” says psh_1_psh_2. Customers who smile and engage in small talk can brighten an employee’s day, transforming the experience of bagging groceries from a mundane task into an enjoyable one. Kailee Ver Valin, who has worked as a Team Member for over a year at a Whole Foods in North Carolina, explains that most customers respond positively to her friendliness. “The customers are thankful and friendly. I love talking to people,” she tells Mental Floss.

Additionally, the store’s butchers will debone animals, and sometimes season the meat, all for free. “A lot of people do that in our offices for lunch, or it's a really easy thing to do right before you head home for dinner. And it's not just salt and pepper—there's interesting rubs and spice mixes,” Siegler says.

9. THEY CAN’T DO MUCH ABOUT SHOPLIFTING.

Most Whole Foods employees have at least one story of customers stealing food. Whether someone eats from the prepared foods section before (or instead of) paying for it or lifts a container of vitamins and then asks for a refund, shoplifting is a big problem. Reddit user Lifeoncloud_9, who works as a supervisor at a Whole Foods in Chicago, explains that the company forbids employees from pursuing or trying to stop shoplifters: “We can get fired for confronting them. Most of the time we have an undercover loss prevention guard on duty. When there isn't, the most we can do is notify the manager on duty and he or she can ban them from the store."

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