Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ten Misconceptions About Working With Recruiters

After 30+ years in the business I realize that most people don’t have a clue as to what recruiters do or don’t do or can and cannot do for them. Most don't really know how recruiters work.  I thought I would clarify by debunking ten misconceptions.

1      Once your résumé is with a recruiter, they will sends it to their contacts
We constantly receive emails from candidates who request that we send their résumés out and then let them know if people want to talk to them.  We receive these instructions from even the most senior executives. 

A recruiter should never send your résumé out without your express permission.

Every candidate should maintain control of his or her résumé.  It should never be sent to any company without specific permission, in that way candidates know which companies have it.

    Emails are an effective means of communications; interviews are not necessary
Many candidates at all levels of seniority, simply feel that by sending an email with an explanation of their situation will be sufficient for a recruiter.  Truth is, smart candidates always talk to their recruiters to bring them up to date.  

If you have a previous relationship with a recruiter, you should be re-interviewed every three or four years, especially if you have had new experiences during that time. (It works both ways: beware of a recruiter who does not want to interview you.)

3      If a recruiter tells you about a job and you express interest, it is okay for them to send your résumé, even before that recruiter interviews you
Sometimes recruiters are under pressure to send résumés.  As a result, they shoot first and then aim.  You should interview with them before they send your résumé out.  During that interview you can be fully briefed on the job. You must be sure that, a) you know all about the company and the job, have read or discussed the job description and, b) you feel the job is commensurate with your goals and ambitions and, finally, c) you like and want to work with the recruiter.

4     Your recruiters will “market” you
Most recruiters work on assignment only.  They will only introduce you to a company if they have a specific assignment that is appropriate for your background and interests.  They will not just send your résumé out and see if someone responds (see # 1 above).

5     Once introduced to a client, the recruiter has done his or her job. It is not necessary to keep the recruiter informed during the process.
This is a very common error and it is made by many candidates.  A good recruiter can be your best ally while you are interviewing.  They can help solve issues and get answers to questions which may best come from a third party.  If familiar with the company, they can and should brief you on the people you are seeing. They can facilitate scheduling and, when appropriate, help negotiate agreements and contacts. 

Frankly, I hate it when a candidate goes on an interview without telling me first.  And it can be embarrassing if the client calls me to ask for the candidate’s feedback.

6     Recruiters are not lawyers and should not be involved with contract negotiations
When it comes to contracts and negotiations, many senior candidates assume that since they are dealing with a lawyer, they no longer need their recruiter.  Wrong.  A good recruiter is not a lawyer, but has lots of experience negotiating and resolving issues. They know what to look for in a contract and may be very familiar with the company you are negotiating with, often knowing what the company will or will not do, and knowing how far they can be pushed in terms of your needs.

       If a recruiter doesn’t send you out, he or she does not like you
That is nonsense of course.  You may think you are qualified for a job, but the recruiter is working against specifications that may not match your background, personality, experience or education..

It is also possible that they do not have an assignment which is appropriate for you at the time you meet them.

I have called many candidates for the first time months or even years after meeting them.

        Once you get a job, you no longer need a recruiter
Smart candidates keep in touch with their recruiters.  They give them complete information when they get a new job, including their salary, the details of their assignments and new experiences (I love people who send me emails telling me that they are taking a job, but give absolutely no detail, even the company that just hired them.  This makes it difficult to update their records and keep track of them).  Keeping recruiters up to date enables them to constantly reevaluate your background.. Many a recruiter has called and placed a candidate ten years after first meeting them because during that time they were kept up to date by the candidate.

9      Recruiters are only interested in making a placement and not in the needs of their candidates
Good recruiters work for their clients, but they cannot do a good job for their clients unless they do a good job for their candidates.  A good recruiter is mindful of the needs of the people they are working with.

1    In These days of social media, recruiters are not necessary
The problem with on-line recruiting is that you never know who is reading and screening your résumé.  Often the screeners are very junior and cannot interpret your experience.  A recruiter who has or knows of an assignment and has a personal relationship with the hiring company, may be able to enable you to get an interview.  There is no question that networking (which would include social media) has always accounted for the majority of jobs.  However, a good recruiter who knows you and the company can provide invaluable insights.


  1. Certainly a good post for all agency novices. And in the interest of helping our new generations, let me add one more “misconception” … “Recruiters, because they always want to make money, will always take or return your call.” Just not true! Their #1 job is to skim the cream off the top. For example, people who already have good jobs but might be “looking”. After that, top-known performers who are happy where they are, but might be coaxed by a lot more money, responsibility, and power. After that, the very recently unemployed. And after that (maybe), the long-term unemployed (like over 50-60.) It’s not personal; just business. Which is to say, if you want a “friend”, get a dog. Otherwise, take personal control of your job search. Lots of digital and social media tools available now besides recruiters and headhunters.

    1. Anon: I totally disagree. We are talking about GOOD recruiters. If a recruiter doesn't return your call it isn't business it is rude. I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as a wasted interview. Any recruiter who does not return a call is neither reputable nor any good. And I know there are, unfortunately, plenty of bad recruiters out there.

  2. Does anyone know of any good recruiters for senior level executives in the areas of broadcast, media and marketing? I am looking for placement snd finding a great recruiter is very difficult. Especially to get a return call.


    1. I probably don't know anyone, but your areas of interest are very broad. Broadcast is in and of itself a huge category encompassing on-air talent, sales, broadcast management, etc. Ditto media and marketing. If you would send me your resume, I would be happy to try to help.

  3. This was a great article. However, there are recruiters out there who actually are just not there to help people. I know of a couple of major recruiting firms that I have personally worked at for years. Upon receiving a long term position I left of course. Eventually I reached out to these companies some 10 years later and was given the cold shoulders by people who otherwise placed me in jobs one right after the other. One recruiter even had the audacity to interview me, and then tell me about a smaller firm that may be hiring. Yet, he placed me in many jobs based upon the fact that I have an very expansive set of skills in IT, presentation, multimedia, and web design. Also, these companies are ALWAYS advertising that they need people and yet when you send your resume with the provided skills needed they claim not to have anything at the time and IF something comes up they will eventually (i.e. never) call. It's just a dang shame.

    1. Anon: It is such a shame. It is these recruiters who give us all a bad name. But I want to assure you there are lots of excellent and responsive recruiters out there who will, at minimum, return your calls and emails.

  4. There are over ten thousand staffing firms in the US. It does not require any formal education or training to be a recruiter. I never heard of a BS/BA in recruiting.


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