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7.1 Recruiters - an overview

Recruiters are like the weather If you do not like the one you are talking with now, another one will blow through in short order.

Types of recruiters

The problem with labeling recruiters is it takes the focus off the goal – getting hired.  At one time there was a very clear line of demarcation between the different types of recruiters.  Today the lines can be fairly blurred by the politics of who gets credit for getting someone hired and how the recruiter is compensated and evaluated. 

At a very high level it may be helpful to think in opposing pairs:

  • Retained versus Contingent Recruiters
  • Corporate versus Agency Recruiter
  • Internal versus External Recruiter
  • Employee versus Contracted Recruiters
  • High-Profile Sourcers versus Low-Level Sourcers

Add to the mix services called outplacement and staffing and we have a ton of labels and politics to work around.

The truth can be difficult to appreciate

  • The absolute truth about retained recruiters is they can be paid even if no one is hired.
  • The absolute truth about contingent recruiters is they get paid only if they get someone hired.
  • The absolute truth about corporate recruiters is they represent the interests of the company first.
  • The absolute truth about outplacement firms is they are paid to provide services not jobs.
  • The absolute truth about staffing firms is they are paid to find groups of people.
  • The absolute truth about agency recruiters is they can be contingent, retained, or contracted.
  • The absolute truth is a company may use every type of recruiter available at the same time.

Exclusivity is dead

The blur between the different types of recruiters stems from the concepts regarding their relationship to the client and whether or not they have an exclusive right to represent the company to find talent. 

Few companies grant exclusives.  Like the lottery or deep sea fishing the more tickets you buy or the more lines you cast into the water the better you odds of winning the cash or landing the big fish.  Same goes for a company in need of talent. There is no honor in labels.

Beyond the truth

The only reality a recruiter can work with is the potential opportunity.  No deal is done until the candidate earns their first pay check.  Deals fail all the time…

Why deals fail

In simple terms candidates do not get hired for a variety of reasons.  About half of them relate to politics and half relate to technical fitness to the position. 

Politics can stop a hire.  Budget short-falls can stop a hire. Changes in management can stop a hire.  The corporate recruiter got sandbagged by an employee referral or an agency hire.  The hiring manager is taking heat because they rely on contract recruiters too often.  The retained recruiter wants the very best candidate and delays creep into the hiring process.  A contracted or agency recruiter may be doing a skill-sell and not have a relationship with the end client.  The reasons go on and on depending on the variables.  Knowing all the possible variables and outcomes does nothing to change the dynamics. 

The counter-measure or antidote to the truth

Be ready.  For candidate who wants to be employed sooner than later it is important to focus on being ready and self-aware regardless of the type of recruiter they are dealing with. 

The ready and self-aware candidate is golden in the eyes of all recruiters.  Recruiters will cross party-lines into HR, they will call and email other recruiters, and they will hunt down non responsive hiring managers and share insights about the process for the ready and self-aware candidate.  Being that type of candidate is a mix of job savvy, a ready resume, and emotional maturity.   Be the candidate who is the easiest to work with. 

Work the email - Include the kitchen sink

With every email include the resume.  Include your rate as a range or a scale based on duration.  Include the original email thread.  In your signature always include your name, job title, email address, phone number in every exchange. 

This strategy keeps your information readily available, saves the recruiter time and makes you stand out for all the right reasons. You become the candidate that “gets it” in the mind of the recruiter.

Since recruiting is the only profession that gets paid only when someone is hired (with the potential exception of retained recruiters) they are highly motivated to close deals.  This means if you have not heard from your recruiter there is no deal.

Working the phone – Name & phone number, repeat

Leave your name and phone number at the start of the message. Repeat it. Repeat it slowly. Then leave a message.  The recruiter who is available or working your deal will be dialing your number that much faster.

Questions to Ask a Recruiter

These questions can position you as a savvy candidate and give you some insights to the cycle times between a phone screen, interview, offer, and start date.  There is some risk of embarrassing a recruiter who is new, had a bad month, or is has been trained to “control” the candidate. 

But a reasonable recruiter will understand you are working the system and can become your best insider to the process.

  1. How many co-workers are working on this opening?  If there are several people working the same position the strongest resume wins – not necessarily the best candidate.
  2. How many candidates are you submitting to this position?  In some case recruiters are limited to one candidate.  In other cases there is no limit.  Either way this is about competing against a candidate pool of one (yourself) or more.
  3. How is my resume delivered to the employer?  Email or hand delivered to the hiring manager suggests a stronger working relationship than a VMS or web based portal submission or fax.
  4. How many “starts” do you have with this company?  The more “starts” a recruiter has with the current company the better they probably understand the real needs and the better they can coach you for interviews.  A recruiter with no starts may be brand new to the account or may not have the insights or the real business

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