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Why Job Hunters Should Avoid Working With Recruiters

I want to tell you how recruiters work for the average joe.

There are a few different kinds of recruiters.

Internal recruiters work in a Human Resources department on behalf of a company. Contingency recruiters work for external recruiting companies who are paid 12-30% of your salary when you are hired; the contingency recruiters earn a base salary from their employer plus a portion of the fee earned when you are hired. Executive recruiters are paid money upfront to find VIPs even if they never find anyone; when those VIPs are hired, they make a little more money.

All of those recruiters should be doing research to find candidates in the marketplace, but they are generally busy doing other things. Behind the scenes, there are researchers or sourcers who are scouring the cloud to find people (and resumes) in specific industries who may or may not be working. Those sourcers are researchers who might be employed by the same company as the recruiter—or they might be solo entrepreneurs.

When researchers and sourcers find people, they pass that information along to recruiters.

Internal recruiters deal with lots of different people: sourcers, researchers, internal hiring managers, candidates, applicants who send resumes into a company even if they’re not good for a job, contingency recruiters who call and send resumes, and their own bossy HR departments.

Contingency recruiters also deal with lots of different people: sourcers, researchers, candidates, applicants who send resumes to them hoping they know of openings, and internal recruiters. Sometimes contingency recruiters are also sales people and find opportunities where their company can even have the opportunity to place candidates.

Executive recruiters deal with lots of people, too, but it’s a sweet gig and they have more help and more time to focus on candidates. That’s for another post.

Here are some common misconceptions about working with internal recruiters and contingency recruiters.

  • They are your advocates. Nope, not true. They want to fill an opening with the best possible person at the most reasonable price point. You are a product.

  • They use amazing technology to match a person to a job. Nope, not true. Sometimes you get a job because you’ve been referred into a company and the hiring manager says — hey, Mister Recruiter, schedule this guy for an interview. He’s a friend of a friend.

  • Recruiters use technology to scour the web for the best talent. Nope, not true. Some of the best recruiters I know can barely use a phone. Most recruiters hate sourcing for candidates. They often complain about doing a query in a database. They love referrals because they are fast and efficient.

  • Recruiters are great at interviewing. Nope, not true. Some recruiters are great at interviewing. Most are good at screening out felons, job hoppers and drug addicts — and maybe not that. Most internal recruiters and contingency recruiters don’t have a deep knowledge of the industry where they are recruiting. Even if they do, they use scientifically sketchy methods such as behavior based interviewing to screen candidates.

  • Recruiters love recruiting. Nope, not true. Great recruiters like recruiting; however, many contingency recruiters are better salespeople and many internal recruiters are at the lowest rung of the HR department and want to be promoted. In short, many recruiters are paying their dues.

  • It’s all about the internet, man. Social recruiting eliminates the old methods of recruiting. Nope, not true. Social recruiting is a process. It’s a philosophy. But there are still all those other constituencies — hiring managers, candidates, applicants — who still have expectations, emotions and feelings. In a healthy and functional recruiting department, you can’t automate your way out of human interaction.

My advice to you?

Whenever you can, avoid recruiters and HR departments. Find hiring managers. Get your resume into the hands of someone who owns a budget.

That’s how you get hired.

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