Should You Use a Job Recruiter?

recruitment-processesWhen you’re looking for a job, sooner or later you may toy with the idea of working with a recruiting company. So, let’s get a handle on how the recruiting industry works.

If nothing else, you’ll look smart when you’re face to face with a recruiter!

Between 3% and 15% of U.S. jobs are filled by recruiters.

Recruiters work at search firms or placement agencies, and are often called executive recruiters or headhunters. Their job is to find candidates to fill permanent positions, and sometimes positions that begin as contract work and in time convert to permanent jobs.

These search firms differ from other staffing services because they concentrate on filling executive level positions. There are two other levels of staffing services.

One level is temporary agencies. Temp agencies concentrate on finding temporary help in all fields, but primarily in manufacturing, service industries, and the skilled and unskilled labor market. They place candidates for specified time periods, often to meet peak demand or to substitute for absent permanent employees.

The second level is professional employer organizations, or PEOs. They are also called employee leasing agencies. Employers work with them to find workers for specific functions. The worker actually is employed by the PEO but is leased to the client company. The PEO pays the employee’s wages, handles taxes, and ensures compliance with state and federal laws. PEOs can often provide employees with access to benefits like retirement, and health and dental insurance, perks that small employers can’t deliver on their own.

Today we’re talking about the third level, the search firms. It’s an industry that encompasses approximately 7,500 companies with combined annual revenue in excess of $7 billion, according to Hoover’s business research. That’s a lot of recruiters and a lot of money.

Who Recruits the Recruiter?

Companies use recruiters to help zero in on a few select job candidates. These recruiters fill an important role. They save employers money spent on advertising a position, and time spent screening candidates for the position.

One way you can benefit from working with a recruiter is that the recruiter can sometimes provide additional insight and guidance to help you land a particular job. Your recruiter has an inside track to the people doing the hiring. He knows exactly what they want.

Your recruiter may also identify weaknesses you have, traits that make you look like a less-than-perfect fit for the job. He can suggest ways for you to strengthen those areas. For example, if you are not a strong interviewer, a recruiter may be able to help prepare you for interviews, including conducting mock job interviews.

Not all recruiters will provide this service, however. Some recruiters may point you towards outside resources to help you work on these weaknesses. Don’t expect your recruiter to be your career coach.

The more you know about a company and its policies, the better position you’ll be in to interview and negotiate. A recruiter can help here. He can provide insights about the company, the hiring person, salary range, job history, and specific preferences, things that a job posting didn’t spell out.

Some companies advertise positions themselves but are also open to hiring candidates submitted by recruiters. However, this is rare, as the major reason to use a recruiter is to conserve the company’s resources and focus on hiring the right candidate.

How Recruiters Work

There are two types of recruiters: contingency and retained.

Contingency Recruiters

Approximately two-thirds of recruiters are contingency recruiters. Contingency recruiters usually look for mid-level roles up to executive positions.

A contingency recruiter tends to work fast because because he is competing with other recruiters to find good candidates. He gets paid only if his candidate is hired. Your resume will probably be one of many he submits for any given job.

Retained Recruiters

Retained recruiters are hired by a client company for an assignment and are paid regardless of the results of a search. Usually, a company will retain just one recruiter. Retained recruiters look for people to fill positions that pay $100,000 or more, and positions requiring a high degree of confidentiality, such as a new athletic director at a high profile university.

A retained recruiter assembles a short list of candidates, usually about three to ten names. Therefore, if a retained recruiter considers you for a position, you will probably be part of a small group of candidates.

What Does the Recruiter Do?

The recruiter has three responsibilities: to gather the job specs, to locate people who meet those specs, and to pass along the resumes to whoever is doing the hiring. To accomplish those three tasks, a recruiter may review several hundred résumés and make dozens of phone calls.

It’s up to the hiring manager to decide if he’ll interview some, or all, or none of the candidates. He might bounce the ball back to the recruiter to further refine the criteria for the assignment and request additional candidates. The process continues until a hire is made.

Who Pays the Recruiter?

An important point to understand is that the employer is the recruiter’s client, and that means the employer pays for the service, not you. A recruiter gets paid once he finds someone who is hired and stays employed for a pre-determined amount of time. His fee is based on the salary paid to the new employee, anywhere from 10 to 35 per cent of the first year’s compensation. If he is a retained recruiter, he also is paid a retainer fee on a regular basis.

The placement fee does not come out of your salary. If you are being paid $50,000 a year, and the placement fee is 20%, the hiring company pays you your full salary and the recruiting firm is also paid $10,000.

Whether you call them headhunters, staffers, or extensions of a human resources department, recruiters fill a real need in the employment industry. Now that you know more about them, you’re better equipped to know if you would benefit from working with one.

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Author: Mir Garvy

I’ve written resumes for 2,000+ job seekers just like you—and helped my clients land jobs with companies like Amazon, SAS, Google, Duke University, Travelocity, Cisco Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Expedia, and IBM.