If you have been in the corporate workforce for any length of time, it’s likely that you have utilized the services of a recruiter. They play an important role in your job search. Recruiters have strong, long-term relationships with corporate human resource professionals and hiring managers and access to confidential jobs that can’t be found on job boards. They understand the company’s corporate culture and are familiar with the personalities and expectations of the interviewers. Good recruiters will help you prepare for the interview, guide you through the long and sometimes arduous process, offer encouragement, serve as your liaison with the firm and assist with negotiating a competitive offer for you. Be forewarned; there are amazingly fantastic recruiters, some horrendous ones and an awful lot of mediocre, untalented headhunters in between the two extremes.
Here’s an insider’s glimpse into the unglamorous life of a recruiter, from my more than 20 years of experience as an executive recruiter. Understanding how recruiters operate, their motivations and how the game is played will help you forge a productive, working relationship with them that will result in you getting a great, new job.
Recruiters generally work on behalf of the company who pays them a placement fee only when the candidate accepts an offer, starts at the company and also remains there for a certain length of time. Recruiters need candidates, but do not have a contractual agreement with them. Think of recruiters as matchmakers who need to make both the candidate and client company happy to successfully make a placement.
The very nature of the recruiting business is incredibly competitive and brutal. The vast majority of recruiters work on a contingency basis. This means that a recruiter could invest an incredible amount of time, energy and resources, but if they don’t produce the winning candidate, the recruiter and their firm will not receive any financial remuneration.
A typical recruiter is given a job requisition from a corporation, along with about 3-10 other staffing agencies. Simultaneously, the company will post the job on its internal job board, LinkedIn and other job sites. It becomes survival of the fittest and a race to find the best candidate before anyone else. Recruiters need to spend tedious hours scouring job boards and internal databases, reviewing hundreds of resumes and LinkedIn profiles. After isolating a slate of suitable candidates, the recruiter meets with them to ensure that even if their resume looks appropriate for the job, they also possess appropriate interpersonal and social skills.