Thousands of companies throughout the world are in the business of matching job seekers to businesses and other organizations that need to fill job openings. Recruiting specialists are contacted by employers of all sizes to find suitable candidates for specific job openings, which run the gamut from entry-level administrative jobs to CEO roles. Recruiters then seek out candidates, handle the screening, and then arrange company interviews for those candidates whose qualifications best match the needs of their clients.
Recruiters will serve one principle function in your job search: They will give you access to job leads that you wouldn’t otherwise hear about.
Who does what?
The recruiting industry is divided into two broad categories: executive search firms and employment or recruitment firms. The first tend to focus on the most senior-level positions and are paid a retainer fee by the client company. The latter are usually paid on a contingency basis – they are paid a fee when and if the candidate they refer is hired. They can represent candidates for entry-level to senior-management positions. How a recruiter gets paid doesn’t usually affect you – except that you should never be responsible for any portion of the fee.
What should you expect?
- If you use a recruiter to access leads, you still have to do the bulk of the heavy-duty work preparing for interviews.
- Recruiters are generally of more value to job seekers who have a stable background in a specific field, as opposed to candidates who have job-hopped or are switching careers. Why? The first is easier to sell to client companies. This does NOT mean they won’t look at you if you don’t have the most stable background; it just means they may have to work a little harder.
- The number of interviews that a recruiter sets up for you doesn’t necessarily determine how good the recruiter is or how hard the recruiter is working on your behalf. Good recruiters don’t waste your time (or their clients’ time) by sending you on interviews for jobs that you’re not really qualified to fill. And they do not pressure you into going on interviews for dead-end jobs that don’t meet your basic requirements.
- Always view the job leads that you get through recruiters as a bonus to the leads that YOU generate through networking and other strategies. Don’t let the fact that you’re working with a recruiter induce you to cut back on your lead-generating activities. You’re still in control. You have to maintain the initiative.
While the main function that recruiters serve is to open doors to job openings, they can also be an invaluable source of information about job trends in your industry, such as which areas are hot and what current salary levels are. Be sure to ask broader questions about your search.
In my next post, I’ll share how recruiters operate, how to network your way to a recruiter, and how to approach a recruiter if you’re unemployed.
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