Sunday, June 1, 2014

Working with Recruiters to Find a Job

Author:  David Schuchman
               Information Technology Manager of Projects and Teams

It is common to work with a recruiter or search firm to find your next job. Keep in mind that many published sources have indicated that only about 10% of job hunters find a new position using search firms. As a result, using recruiters as a resource should consume no more than 10% of your time. Keep these facts in mind so you optimize your use of a search firm as a productive job search resource:

Recruiters work for employers, not job hunters
A recruiter’s job is to find the best talent for the position their client employer is seeking to fill based on the employer's requirements. They work to find talented individuals who have done the job already for a prior employer, or people ready to move up to the next level in their same career path. While they help individuals whom they are able to place, it is not their primary responsibility to provide assistance or guidance for job seekers.

Different Types of Recruiters

  • Contingency recruiting companies are paid only when their client company hires a candidate they submit. For each position, employers may offer multiple recruiting companies the opportunity to work on the same job posting. They only pay a fee to the recruiter who actually finds the right talent, and the process can be a very competitive. Contingency recruiting is the most common type.
  • Retained Search recruiting companies are paid by a company to take on an exclusive role in a given search. They typically receive an up-front retainer fee. The remainder of the fee is paid on an installment basis as the search progresses. This is often used for high level executive searches. 
  • Corporate Recruiters are usually company employees seeking to fill internal positions.

Recruiters have limited time (like everyone)
Recruiters are likely to be very responsive to people they see as strong potential candidates for their clients' job orders. They are likely to be much less responsive to individuals who are not perceived as potential candidates. In addition, most recruiters don't have the time to respond to the many unsolicited resumes or phone calls that they receive virtually every week. When you do find those few recruiters that spend time to build a relationship with candidates, keep them active in your network.

Recruiters help job hunters get the best compensation
Typically, recruiting fees are based as a percentage of a new hire's first year base salary. Therefore, the more you earn, the more they earn. Often recruiters have inside information about what the company is willing to pay, and are able to obtain the highest salary that the company is willing to offer for the position.

Working with a recruiter can be a great benefit in your job hunt, but only if you understand their role in the hiring process. Budget your time appropriately when working with recruiters to maximize your efforts and results.

[A version of this posting appeared in the January 16, 2014 “TechTopics4U” blog]


  1. One issue that usually arises is the recruiter asking the applicant's current/past salary way too early in the process. I find its best to not answer with a specific number but if they persist which is often the sign of an inexperienced recruiter ask THEM what the salary range is for the position. If they can't or won't answer, then its time to move on as you are not dealing with a professsional. Steve Stavish

    1. Asking a recruiter for the position's budgeted salary is a good way to navigate addressing the salary question.