Advice for candidates:
1. Have a clear career game plan and job-changing mindset before you get the call. (This includes always having an up-to-date resume.)
2. Be open but cautious.
3. Ask questions to help you determine the recruiter's legitimacy, credibility, reputation and modus operandi (i.e. contingency or retainer, exclusive assignment or not, professional affiliations, office location).
4. Never stretch the truth: about job experience, education, income, etc.
5. Pull out early if you're really not interested: offer to be a resource.
6. Do your homework on the client organization, once identified. (The recruiter should provide basic material such as the Annual Report, but go beyond to clippings, trade publication stories, etc.)
7. Don't play hard to get. Keep appointments, return calls, cooperate.
8. Cover yourself at work: despite all precautions and confidentiality, slip-ups sometimes occur. Tell your superiors you're always getting calls from recruiters, but that it doesn't mean you're looking.
9. Don't cultivate an offer just to get leverage where you are: such short-term, self-serving strategy usually backfires.
10. Of 100+ "suspects" uncovered in initial research, perhaps 20 will make the first cut, five will be finalists, and only one will get the job. Don't take it personally: the search process aims for a perfect fit, and it's probably in your best interests anyway.
11. Don't burn your bridges: with the recruiter or with your present employer.
12. Let the recruiter assist you: on salary and benefits and perks. While compensated by the hiring organization, the search consultant can be your advocate, too, and has a stake in your success.