Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What An Executive Recruiter Can And Cannot Do For Candidatres

I wish I could help everyone who comes in to meet me.  Unfortunately, there are misconceptions about what a recruiter can and cannot do.  I thought I would write about it.  

There are all kinds of recruiters.  But in broad strokes here is what most of us do and don’t do.

1.    Recruiters don’t get people jobs
One of the great misconceptions is that recruiters can get candidates jobs.  We can’t.  (See number 4, below).  Recruiters are almost like wholesalers.  The best we can do is understand our clients and their needs and then send candidates we think are appropriate for that position.

2.    Recruiters don’t market candidates
I have written about this many times.  The notion that if you meet a recruiter, he or she immediately make introductions is mostly wrong.  Most reputable recruiters work only on assignment which means that they only send candidates appropriate to the specifications of that assignment.

3.    Recruiters don’t network candidates
Many candidates misunderstand recruiters.  They assume that even if the recruiter doesn’t have a specific job for them, they will network them to friends and associates.  Most of us meet far too many candidates to do that.  We get paid to place candidates, not to network them. 

4.    Recruiters do work for their clients, not for their candidates
We are paid by our clients.  They pay us to find people who match the criteria they give us.  While we can stray from this slightly, especially if we know the client well, we cannot send candidates who we know are wrong; that would be wrong for our clients and hurtful to our candidates.

5.    Recruiters work on assignment
See numbers 2, 3 and 4, above. 

6.    Recruiters, especially single industry recruiters, can help with your career
Recruiters who specialize in an industry can be very excellent mentors and guides.  They know companies and who they hire.  And they often know many of the people.  They understand the nuances of hiring.  They can be wonderful sources of information and guidance.

7.    Recruiters, can help you with your resume
It doesn’t matter how senior or junior you are, a good recruiter can help with your résumé.  They understand what clients are looking for and may have you adjust your résumé for a job. Without your specific permission, a recruiter cannot and should not make any changes to your résumé.

8.    Recruiters can and should brief you before an interview
You should expect a recruiter to tell you about the company, the job and the people you will be talking to.  They should also send you written job specs if they have them.  They can help you position yourself for the job.  They can also help facilitate the entire interviewing process.

9.    Recruiters should follow up to give you feedback
I have written that my pet peeve is when I cannot get feedback from a company after an interview. Unfortunately, it happens too frequently.  However, as a candidate, you have a right to know how you did and if there are any next steps.  If you did not do well, you should receive constructive criticism as given to the recruiter by the company.
10.    Recruiters should either negotiate for you or help you negotiate
Many companies, even when using a recruiter, like to cut them out during negotiations (they wrongly think we are trying to get candidates higher salaries when, in fact, just the opposite is true, especially with good clients).  Candidates should always keep their recruiters informed of all discussions.


  1. Here's another thing most recruiters can't do ... Tell candidates the truth ...

    - You're a guy
    - You're a gal
    - You're too old
    - You're Black
    - You're Hispanic
    - You're too short
    - You're disabled
    - You're a known Democrat or Republican
    - You're a Jew
    - Too New York City
    - Brooks Brothers doesn't fly

    The list goes on. But the fact is, if recruiters or their clients actually told the truth, they'd be sued by somebody in a New York minute. LOL, BC

  2. Bill, a few of us long time readers of Paul's blog agree that you left one out:

    "You leave the kinds of comments across social media networks that have pretty much destroyed your chances of anyone wanting to hire you."

  3. Excellent, Paul. Even for creative types.

  4. Paul,

    Can you touch on some typical negotiable items that you see included in CCO contracts of employments at the big agencies. Signing bonus, year end bonus, stock etc. And some one offs here and there you have seen as well perhaps?

    1. Anon: You need to contact me at the office on the phone. The answers to your questions(s) are too complicated, involved and require a conversation,


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

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