Working With Recruiters
What Is a Recruiter - Really?
Recruiting is a poorly understood profession (sometimes even by those who call themselves recruiters). There are several types of recruiters, but the mechanics and psychology of recruiting are all the same.
Corporate recruiters are employed by a company for the purpose of finding and qualifying new employees for the organization. Third party recruiters are subcontracted to by a company for the same purpose. Several different types of third party recruiters exist, but the main difference between them lies in how they are compensated.
Both third party recruiters are paid by the hiring company, but retained recruiters typically have an "exclusive" with the company. They are paid a portion of their fee upfront with the balance paid when the search is over. Retained recruiters are typically used for executive level positions.
Contingency recruiters don't typically have an exclusive relationship with the company. They are paid a fee only if the company hires a candidate discovered through their efforts. (Most third party recruiters fall into this category.)
In my work, I do interviewing skills training and am often asked about recruiters by job seekers. These are the comments and questions I hear the most.
- "Recruiters often call and ask for my resume, but then I never hear from them again."
- "A recruiter sent me on an interview, but I can't seem to get any feedback about how I did. They say the company is still interviewing, so I can't assess where I may have gone wrong (so that I may do a better job on my next interview)."
- "I have sent out dozens of resumes - sometimes hundreds - to recruiters, but I never hear from them, and can't get them to return my calls."
Various reasons for the above situations exist, but many of them boil down to one issue: money. To successfully work with recruiters, you must first understand that they are not working for you, the job seeker, but for the company. It is the company that pays their fees. It is the company they must ultimately satisfy if they are to get paid for all of their hard work.
Third party recruiters are typically compensated 20-30%, or more, of a placed candidate's first year's salary. (If a job seeker could pay the recruiter $10,000-$25,000 to find him or her a job, the job seeker might find a shift in attention from a recruiter.)
Company members want their recruitment needs met. After all they are paying well to get them met. If a recruiting firm bombarded the company with resumes of people who don't qualify for the job, they would find themselves unemployed the next time the company is filling jobs.
Don't take that personally. If you fit the job they are actively recruiting for, you can bet that the recruiter will do everything in his power to make sure you are successfully hired by the company.
You can determine whether your recruiter is a seasoned professional or an amateur. An experienced recruiter will always get feedback from a company following an interview she has arranged. The recruiter won't continue to send applicants to the client company without knowing why the ones she already sent were unsuccessful.
Without such critical feedback, the recruiter has no way of knowing where the recruiting efforts are falling short. The recruiter needs this feedback so she may do a better job of sending the right kinds of candidates.
A sign of an amateur - or a fisherman - is the recruiter that does nothing except collect resumes, for no apparent purpose. If you are contacted by a recruiter and asked to send your resume, don't be afraid to ask questions about why he wants to see it. I would ask the following questions.
- Is there a specific job you have in mind for me?
- Once you have my resume in hand, when can I expect to hear from you again?"
- Will you ever send my resume to one of your clients without my knowledge and/or consent?
If a recruiter ever contacts you and asks for a resume before knowing anything about your professional background, don't send it. Your resume could land in places where you don't want it to be. A professional recruiter, though he is working for the client company, not you, will want to ensure that you are a "good" candidate.
He will ask questions such as these.
- What are you seeking in a new employer that you don't currently have available where you are presently working?
- Would you consider relocation for the right job, and if so, where? (If you say you would consider relocation, they should also ask about your family situation. Does your spouse work? Do you have children still in school?) This will help them determine whether you (and your family) will be happy, and stay with the job, if moving is necessary.
A professional recruiter will want to know that she has not only done a good job for the client, but that she also kept your best interests in mind as well. (When I was recruiting, most of my referrals came from satisfied candidates who I had treated with respect.)
I also gave them the courtesy of thorough communication, even if I wasn't able to place them on a new job for one reason or another.
Understanding your recruiter, and ensuring that they understand you, is the first step in successfully seeking a new job through a recruiter.