Most of us will work with a recruiter or two in the course of our career. How that experience goes often depends on how well we understand the recruiter's role in the hiring process.
Here are a few things that might shed some light on these people who can be so important to getting introduced to your next job.
1. There are different types of recruiters.
There are five main kinds of recruiters, each with a different relationship with the company that's hiring, and each with a different model for how they get paid.
- In-house or corporate recruiters are employees of the company. They are the conduit to the hiring managers, and keep things rolling along. They might hire for certain types of jobs, or might handle everything for a business unit. The bigger the company, the more in-house recruiters.
- Contract recruiters are independent consultants brought in temporarily on contract by a company that needs to hire a lot of people quickly. They are paid an hourly rate, often a very generous one because of their expertise. Some work virtually, doing all of their work on the phone, or they can work on site for clients. Fast-growing companies are most likely to use contract recruiters.
- Contingency recruiters are only paid when their candidate is hired. Fees are usually a percentage between 15-30% of the new hire's salary, depending on the field and level of the position.
- Technical recruiters focus on computer, IT and other technical jobs. They often make direct hire placements, and—because many tech hires are for projects—they usually also place contract workers, which can mean dealing with payroll, visa and relocation issues. Companies are billed a percentage of the contractor's rate.
- Retained search recruiters work on very senior executive positions or very specialized jobs. With retained searches, the fee is charged for the expertise and time, and is payable regardless of who the company hires.
2. The best recruiters specialize.
Most recruiters develop a niche, often building on their other work experience. Some people only place creatives in ad agencies, SAP programmers, steel sales executives or emergency room doctors. Specializing allows the recruiter to have a deeper understanding of the specific skill sets for a certain profession, management level or industry, and it lets them build a stronger and more focused and tighter network of connections. A specialist in your field will be tapped into the job market that you want to know about, so seek them out and get on their radar.
3. Recruiters work for the company, not the candidate.
This is important to understand: All recruiters are paid by the company to find them the right person, not paid by the candidate to get them a job. (The candidate paying the fee for a new job is a thing of the past.) The recruiter's first responsibility is to the one who's writing the check, so don't get upset when they aren't willing to push you for a job you think you should get. Their job is to give their client company what they want.
4. The recruiter's goal is to close the deal so everyone wins.
Obviously, the recruiter will be rooting for you to be the best candidate and get the job, because that's the whole point of their work, and they'll make money when you get hired. They're on your side, wanting you to get the best offer possible so you'll be happy and thrive at the company, and they also want the company to get the person they want, so they will work with them again.
5. Recruiters are worth creating a relationship with.
Good recruiters love their work and will be around for years to come. That means that while they may not have a position for you right now, they might down the road. Connect on LinkedIn, check in with a friendly email once in a while, and nurture the relationship now so that when they do have that job come in, you'll quickly come to mind.
6. Take charge with less-than-professional recruiters.
Over my 20+ years, I have known of a few not-so-good recruiters. Yes, there are people who will try to get you to interview on a Java programming job when you're actually a marketing executive, or send your resume to a company without your permission. These people are often inexperienced resume pushers, but let's be honest. If you're looking for a job, they may know of the right position for you, so don't discount them.
If you sense you are talking to one of those recruiters, take more care in managing the process. Respectfully ask them about their experience and process, be specific with the parameters of what you will consider, and request that they never send your resume anywhere without your OK.
7. Recruiters like to be kept in the loop.
Until you're hired, the recruiter should be a part of the ongoing conversations. Call and check in after every interview, and copy them on any emails you exchange with the company. Use them for questions and clarifications you'd rather not ask directly, for coaching about how to handle salary or other issues, or for insights on the job that the company might not have shared. Don't assume the company tells them everything, and don't be afraid to ask for their help during the process.
Remember, every recruiter wants what you do: that you be the best person for the job, impress their client, get hired, and everyone is happy. Win-win-win.