The use of recruiters, headhunters, or staffing firms is not the first job-hunting strategy that comes to mind for a scientist. Although the occasional postdoc keen on an industry job uses a headhunter,1 and executive search firms regularly find suitable candidates for academic positions like department chairs and deans,2 "there's this whole world of contacts" that many research scientists haven't explored yet, says David Jensen, founder and principal consultant of Search Masters International Inc. in Sedona, Ariz. "There is some ignorance of what this process is all about. Many people haven't yet caught on to it." Jensen is quick to add that recruiters "come in different flavors," and that knowing the emphasis of each can help in your efforts.

Most staffing firms and recruiters are paid by client companies. On one side of the coin, there are staffing firms such as Troy, Mich.-based Kelly Scientific Resources [KSR],...

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