(This page may contain affiliate links and we may earn fees from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. See our Disclosure for more info.)
Whatever your reason, looking for a new job can be exhausting. It’s practically a full-time job in itself!
To balance it with your busy life, it makes sense to streamline and expedite the process as much as possible.
You’ve thought about working with a recruiting firm to help make job hunting easier and hopefully find a position faster, yet you’re not sure if it will really be beneficial.
Don’t worry — we’ve got all the details you need to make an informed decision.
Let’s start with a few fast facts:
- Recruiting firms are commissioned by the company seeking job candidates.
- Recruiters receive payment when a company hires a candidate they submitted.
- You shouldn’t have to pay to work with a recruiter. (If asked to, run away!)
With these things in mind, let’s review how a recruiter impacts the job search process.
How Your Job Search Works When it Involves a Recruiting Firm
Without the help of a recruiter, everything is on you.
You need to find advertised open positions, submit your resume (pray it actually gets reviewed), attend interviews, and hopefully receive a solid employment offer before your cash cushion (or your patience with your current employer) runs out.
A recruiter eliminates the first two steps.
They send your resume to companies actively looking for someone with your skillset.
When a company wants to interview you, your recruiter will coordinate the meeting and relay those details to you.
Afterward, they’ll share any feedback from the employer as soon as they receive it.
If the firm wants to hire you, your recruiter will negotiate your employment offer on your behalf.
Sometimes, the firm will go with another candidate. Or the recruiter may not initially have any appropriate employment opportunities for you.
In either event, they’ll retain your information in their database so they can contact you the moment a suitable role comes up.
Remember, your recruiter isn't paid unless you get hired.
And, their compensation will likely be a percentage of your starting salary – making it in their best interest to get you the highest offer possible.
You just have to be sure the highest paying job is actually the right opportunity for you.
Express that very clearly to your recruiter from the beginning.
Access to Opportunities
You may be wondering: Can’t I get an “in” with these organizations on my own? Maybe.
However, working with a recruiter can get your name to the top of a hiring manager’s list because the company has commissioned the recruiter to locate candidates on their behalf.
Additionally, the recruiter could submit your resume for a position not publicly advertised – so you’d never know it was available.
In short, they have connections that can get you access to more opportunities.
Like any profession, there are some great recruiters — but also some really bad eggs. In the following sections, you’ll learn how to differentiate the two.
What a Good Recruiter Will Do
Getting a dream job offer is the goal.
But, working with a recruiter doesn’t guarantee anything. (In fact, it’s a red flag if they try to promise you a specific result.)
However, regardless of the eventual outcome, there are some things a good recruiter will do:
- Take time to understand your background and desired employment.
- Leverage their vast network to uncover new and ideal opportunities.
- Submit you to companies and for positions of interest to you — with your consent.
- Optimize your resume to impress hiring managers (keeping it factual, of course!).
- Help you prepare for interviews – they have great intel on the company and hiring managers. Great recruiters may also provide tips to starting a new position off on the right foot.
- Have your best interests at heart (which may mean accepting a lower commission).
- Communicate with you regularly throughout your job search – even during slow periods.
- Make you feel comfortable and respected every step of the way.
When you find a good recruiter, keep them on speed dial. You never know when you’ll need to search for employment again.
Some professionals receive placement by the same recruiter multiple times during their careers.
The best possible gift you can give your recruiter is repeat business – or a referral to another professional who needs help with their job search.
Pro Tip: You can work with multiple recruiters!
When you partner with a new recruiter, just be upfront that you’re not exclusively working with them. Then — be sure to keep good records of where they're submitting your resume.
Your recruiters may work on overlapping job openings, and you don’t want them to duplicate each other’s efforts.
What a Bad Recruiter Will Do
A bad recruiter is pretty much the polar opposite of a good one. They’ll:
- Gloss over your skillset, work history, and career goals
- Demonstrate that they don’t “get” your industry
- Suggest you pursue opportunities that don’t align with your aspirations and values
- Submit you to companies without your consent
- Skip improving your resume or doing interview preparation
- Enter negotiations with only their bank account in mind
- Ghost you or be impossible to get a hold of
- Make you feel uncomfortable or give off a shady vibe
If your recruiter does any of the above, cut ties and find someone else to work with. And depending on what happened, consider speaking up about your experience.
Contacting the recruiter’s supervisor may result in necessary corrective action and additional training.
Writing an online review could spare other job seekers from the same pain and hassle too.
How to Vet a Recruiter
With the internet in the palm of your hands, you can vet any recruiter you’re considering working with — before you spend any time on the phone with them.
Here are some places to dig for insight:
- The staffing firm’s website
- Reviews of the staffing firm
- Reviews of the individual recruiter (especially if they’re independent/own the firm)
- The recruiter’s LinkedIn profile
- Previous candidates they’ve worked with (if possible)
Your goal is to understand their background and reputation.
Do they seem well-versed in your industry or career-type? Are there any obvious red flags?
If your initial inquiry comes back clean, it’s worth spending a few minutes chatting with them.
During that first call, pay attention to how the recruiter treats you, how they conduct business, and what your gut says. If it’s not a fit, move to the next recruiter on your list.
Final Thoughts on Using a Recruiter to Help Your Job Search
Working with a good recruiter during your job hunt can be a smart idea.
However, your decision needs to be driven by due diligence and your preferences.
For best results, consider your recruiter as a supplement to your job search and keep pounding the employment pavement as usual.