the most out of the recruiter/job hunter relationship
Sometimes a job search takes place while job seekers have the luxury of
still working for an employer. Other times a layoff forces them into the
job market without a safety net. In either event, it’s very likely a job
hunter will either be approached by or reach out to a job recruiter.
But before you
pick up the phone or respond to a recruiter’s e-mail, you need to
understand the various types of recruiters, how best to work with them,
and why they aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all to the job hunt
The many types of recruiters
One thing you will quickly realize during a job search is that there are
many types of recruiters who work within different business models. This
is not to say that any of them are bad; it’s just that they fill different
niches. Here are a few examples.
Company recruiters try to fill current openings within a company. These
recruiters could work within a traditional corporate environment or they
could work for consulting firms. The key thing to note is that these
recruiters actually have jobs that need to be filled, and the hiring
process is somewhat within their control.
Agency recruiters (company paid)
In many cases, companies use outside agencies to help fill their open
positions. A company could seek outside help because it doesn’t have
recruiters on its staff, because its own recruiters have not found the
right candidates, because it has too many openings for its own recruiters,
or because it is looking for someone in a specialty area that an outside
agency is better able to fill.
The key point here is that agency recruiters are looking for candidates
for positions that are not totally within their control. They are looking
to fill openings for other companies. Many times, when you respond to an
ad for a job opening, it is from an agency recruiter who does not actually
have the opening in-house and does not totally control the interview
process. These recruiters make their revenue by charging the hiring
company a fee, usually 20 percent to 25 percent of the first-year starting
Agency recruiters (candidate paid)
These recruiters are similar to their company-paid counterparts except
that they usually offer candidates to a company for free. They make money
by charging a fee to the candidate if the agency secures that candidate a
position. There are also recruiters who charge for services, such as
setting up interviews, and so on, instead of just charging a job placement
From the candidate’s perspective, contract recruiters are similar to
company-paid agency recruiters. Typically, these recruiters are recruiting
to fill openings for contract resources at their client companies. The key
point in this case is that these recruiters do not have the opening at
their own company and they do not control the interview process. Contract
recruiters are looking for qualified people to submit to companies for
contract openings, and they are competing with many other contract
recruiters for those same placements.
Executive/niche recruiters specialize in certain fields and markets. For
instance, one recruiter might specialize only in CIOs, one might look only
for senior executives in the insurance field, while another specializes
only in database administrators.
These recruiters are always looking for people in their niche, whether
they have openings or not. However, when they do have openings, they
typically have some level of exclusivity that gives them a better chance
to fill the openings.
There are other types of recruiters who use variations on this basic
approach, and some opportunistic recruiters cover more than one special
industry or technical skill.
Suggestions for making the relationship work
Now that you have a basic understanding of the types of recruiters out
there, you can better decide what type of recruiter to work with and what
type isn’t a good fit.
No matter which type of recruiter you decide to work with, there are some
specific things you need to remember about recruiters and job hunting to
make the relationship work:
No. 1: Remember whom the recruiter is working
Recruiters are like real estate agents—and the home seller (a realtor’s
client) is the employer looking to hire. Keep in mind that when you reach
out to a recruiter, that person will be friendly and helpful and even
offer encouragement and give you tips. But your recruiter may never
present you for an open position—or the house of your dreams, to follow
the real-estate agent analogy.
The reason is that, ultimately, recruiters are trying to fulfill the needs
of their client. If you are a great candidate for an opening, you will be
submitted. If you are not a great candidate, you will not be submitted.
Recruiters are just trying to provide a service to their customer, and
part of that service is to present qualified candidates. If they present
too many candidates, or ones who are not qualified, then they lose
credibility and can potentially lose a client.
No. 2: Remember that good recruiters are
Many candidates get frustrated because they apply for a position they
believe they are qualified for, and they never receive a response back. Is
this because the recruiter doesn’t care about them? No, not likely.
You need to understand that today’s recruiters are inundated with resumes.
Fifteen years ago, when I had the responsibility for recruiting for a
national trucking company, we received a handful of resumes every day.
Typically, if the candidate fit a profile of the kind of person we were
interested in, we would call the candidate for an initial screening and
set up follow-up interviews if we were still interested. Today, with the
use of e-mail and Internet job posting boards, recruiters get hundreds,
even thousands, of resumes a week for one open position.
Recruiters use a primary tool—software to scan resumes for keywords—to get
through the resumes hitting their desks. If your resume comes up in the
keyword search, then you have a shot at getting an interview. If not, your
resume will hang in the database.
In general, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of job openings that you
are a fit for at any given time. However, each position also has dozens,
if not hundreds, of qualified candidates.
Recruiters can be valuable resources to help you find job openings. If you
do not use them, you will effectively be closing the door on a vast number
of potential job openings. So, don’t be afraid to use recruiters heavily
if they are trying to fill positions that you think you are qualified for.