If you’re in the job market seeking a new position, just curious about your value or simply want to gauge the temperature, the chances are high that you’ll chat with a recruiter. Recruiters serve as an important and valuable function in a person’s quest for a new a job and advancement in their career.
Since this is a murky area, with a glaring absence of quality writing on the topic, most people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes at recruiting firms. I’d like to shed light and clear up some common misconceptions. Having insider knowledge on how recruiters operate, their strengths, limitations and challenges will enable you to forge a mutually productive and long-term relationship.
The vast majority of recruiters are called contingent recruiters. These recruiters will receive job orders from companies and are tasked with finding the right candidates. They don’t have exclusivity on the positions. The company will simultaneously share the same job description with a number of other recruiting firms, post it on their internal website and onto online job boards. The recruiter only gets paid if they find the right candidate, an offer is accepted, the person starts the job and remains there for however long the contingency agreement stipulates. If this doesn’t happen, they don’t earn a commission.
The recruiter spends hours, days, weeks and months searching for suitable people, interviewing candidates, submitting résumés and coaching applicants on how to navigate and ace the interview. They may provide 10 great profiles that the company loves, coordinate all the interviews for them and told that three are finalists, but one will get the offer. If, however, a random résumé comes to the attention of the firm and the company hires that person, the recruiter does not get paid anything. All of their time and effort yields zero compensation. It’s the equivalent of a real estate agent who schleps a family around to dozens of homes every weekend for six months, only to be sent an email stating, “Thanks for all your help. This other agent shared one house with us yesterday. It was gorgeous and we signed a contract that same day. Isn’t it terrific? I know you will be so happy for us! Thanks you for all of your help.”
The challenge, among many, for recruiters is that they can only offer jobs that they have. Sometimes a recruiter may possess a large inventory of jobs—other times, not so many. Job seekers tend to believe that a recruiter is their agent, like in the movie Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise plays a sports agent representing a star football player. They think that the recruiter is their guy or gal who will aggressively champion their cause, get them a top job and answer their “show me the money” demands. Sadly, it’s not like the movies.