What You Need to Know About Working With Recruiters

Working with recruiters can be one way to land your next job. However, it’s important to understand the reasons why companies invest in recruiters — and what recruiters’ roles actually are in the hiring process.

Companies usually have four main reasons for investing in recruiters: 

  1. They’ve been unable to find the right candidates through ads or their networks.
  2. They want candidates with long tenures in specific professions — not career changers.
  3. They want to lure a talented candidate who is working for a competitor.
  4. They have high-turnover positions and want to build their pool of applicants.

Subsequently, companies will hire recruiters to fill specific positions for them. As such, recruiters work on behalf of client companies – NOT as job-seeking candidates’ agents. In other words, it’s NOT a recruiter’s role to find a candidate a job.

There are two types of recruiters:

  • Retained search firms are paid upfront to handle exclusive searches for $80K-$500K positions, usually for high-level academic posts or C-level positions in public or private companies. The client companies’ requirements for candidates are very explicit, such as a degree from specific school or past employment at a certain company.
  • Contingency recruiters get paid only upon presenting the candidate who is hired. Usually, contingency recruiters get an assignment from a client company; then they’ll search for a candidate who matches the qualifications by placing ads, calling competitors or looking through their résumé files for candidates. They function as a “middle man/woman” between the company and the candidates they present.

Whether or not you decide to work with recruiters depends on your situation. Either way, your job search plan should include a list of 50+ target companies where you’d like to work and the names of people you want to meet. With good networking skills, it’s valuable to meet hiring managers through your own efforts, without the help of recruiters.

Here’s why: If a contingency recruiter presents you to one of your targeted employers where you already have inside connections you’ve just added thousands of dollars to your potential employer’s hiring process. For example, you could cost $85K ($65K salary + $20K recruiter’s fee) to hire. If this employer really has an $85K budget to hire for a $65K position, why not get an extra $20K for yourself as an increased salary or a sign-on or performance bonus?

On the other hand, if there are companies you simply can’t reach on your own, recruiters can be helpful. In retained searches, they are the gatekeepers you must go through and are usually accommodating if the position is a fit for you.

One major downside of working with recruiters is feeling like you are no longer in control of your search. Recruiters seem to “call all the shots,” are very guarded about what goes on behind hiring managers’ closed doors, and usually won’t allow you to communicate directly with hiring managers in between interviews. You have to decide if giving up some of this control will be worthwhile in the long run.    

There are pros and cons to working with recruiters. If your skills are rare and in demand, you have substantial experience in your field, or you want to work for a competitor, recruiters may be able to lead you to your next job. Otherwise, you are better off conducting your own job search through your own network and resources.

For additional information about how things work behind the scenes with recruiters, read this content-rich article: “Working with Recruiters”, masterfully written by Jim Pawlak, career columnist and workforce development expert.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2014 All Rights Reserved www.career-success-coach.com 

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    Help Recruiters to Find You Online

    Guest post by Chick Simonds, recruiter and outplacement consultant with Simonds & Associates

    Throughout my recruiting career, I have been observing and experiencing a paradigm shift in the way that most recruiters and job-seeking candidates find each other. Thanks to voicemail, electronic switchboards, virtual offices, etc., it has become increasingly challenging to speak directly with people. Thus, the Internet has evolved into the most effective and widely-used communication tool for recruiters and candidates alike.

    Recruiters typically find candidates online by posting their assignments on job boards to attract candidates, and searching directly for qualified candidates using common or complex search engines, depending on the type of candidate sought. To improve your chances of connecting with a recruiter, follow these guidelines before posting your resume:

    1) Tailor your resume to match the skill sets and qualifications stated by the job posting. Be sure to include the appropriate keywords, phrases and other words that will attract the employer and the recruiter. For example, if you’re an executive assistant and the job posting asks for MS Office skills, then MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc., should be listed on your resume.

    2) Don’t use overly descriptive or elaborate language in your resume – and don’t attempt to inflate your job description. There’s no shame in being a sales associate, administrative assistant, product manager, mechanical engineer, or software support technician.

    3) Be sure your contact information is up-to-date and accurate.Nothing irritates a recruiter more than finding a qualified candidate with a disconnected phone number, an email address that bounces back, or a phone that just rings with no voicemail or answering machine, or a voicemail box that is full or not functioning.

    4) Update all of your job board postings (and contact information) on a monthly basis. On many sites, this is a free and easy way to maintain top positioning.

    5) Keep in mind that recruiters want achievers and employers want contributors. We don’t need to see your job description; we need to see how well you did your job! For example, if you’re in sales, we’re interested in your sales performance, not merely what you sold and to whom.

    6) Create a complete profile on LinkedIn. Recruiters actively use this site to search for qualified candidates. The more complete your profile, the more attractive it will be to recruiters.

    So, what should you do when a recruiter contacts you? First, do not feel obligated to submit a formal resume immediately. Second, be absolutely certain you are comfortable with the recruiter, and you understand the assignment being discussed. Most importantly, make it abundantly clear that you are allowing the recruiter to share your credentials for the specific assignment onlynot for the recruiter to blast your resume throughout the country.

    Third, never lie about whether or not you have a college degree. A recent candidate of mine learned this lesson the hard way. Background checks are the norm, and degrees are among the easiest items to validate. It cost this young man a terrific job: the irony is that the degree was not required, but truthfulness always is! 

    Despite the high traffic of job boards, employers are continually investing thousands of dollars in manpower and technology to more accurately monitor responses to job postings and accelerate their search for qualified candidates. As the economy continues to spring back, so will employers and recruiters’ search for candidates online…so be ready!  


    About the author: Charles “Chick” Simonds is a recruiter and outplacement consultant with Simonds & Associates. He specializes in assignments for sales and marketing professionals. Prior to recruiting, he enjoyed a successful career in senior sales management for several divisions of Bell & Howell. Formerly a resident of Illinois, he now lives and works in Hilton Head, SC. He can be contacted via LinkedIn.

    (c) 2013 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved

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