Some Real Truths About Working With a Recruiter

Nancy Anderson
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Building relationships with recruiters can help job seekers connect with companies that rarely advertise open positions. The downside is recruiters care most about keeping their clients happy, so they aren't always upfront about why you didn't land the job or why the hiring process stalled. If you plan to work with recruitment agencies, make sure you have realistic expectations and stay focused on your job search goals.

1. Recruiters Want to Make a Sale

Recruiters aren't your personal advocates; they're salespeople. Businesses hire recruitment agencies to find the right talent, so recruiters only make money when they place job seekers with companies. Recruiters often submit multiple people for a single job, and it's in their best interests to heavily promote the most qualified candidates. Don't expect recruiters to figure out what makes you special. Present a strong value proposition throughout your application, and take it into consideration when recruiters suggest changes to your resume.

2. A Low Offer Is Better Than No Sale

Companies pay most recruiters an amount equal to 20 to 25 percent of your salary, so agencies want to get job seekers the highest offer possible. At the same time, they're willing to accept a lower offer if the company is otherwise likely to pass. Some recruiters may pressure you to take a low offer or even misquote industry ranges to sway your salary expectations. Make your salary requirements clear as soon as you start working with recruiters, and let them know why you expect a different amount for a specific position. Recruiters may have wiggle room to negotiate for a top candidate, especially if they understated the job duties.

3. Recruiters Only Give You Essential Details

To get repeat business, top recruiters work hard to form trusted relationships with employers. That means recruiters protect any sensitive details that could drive away job seekers or reflect badly upon their clients. Agencies don't want good candidates to be turned off by problems delaying a hire. They're also wary of sharing negative feedback that could trigger a lawsuit or cause a job seeker to publicly call out a client company. The only thing you can really do in this situation is prepare yourself for vague answers when you ask about interview feedback, a rejection or a lengthy hiring process.

4. Some Recruiters Don't Do Their Research

Successful recruiters are typically specialists with experience hiring for target industries. As a result, they understand how each job fits into the company. Inexperienced recruiters may misrepresent a job or support low salary offers simply because they don't know what a position really entails. Stick to agencies with a strong track record in your industry, and ask questions about the company's needs and expectations to find out how much the recruiters understands your skill set. Move on if it's clear that recruiters aren't doing their research or are only looking for discount talent.

Job seekers have to accept that there's no magic formula to landing the right position. Whether you enlist a recruiter, surf job boards or tap into your network, it's up to you to identify good opportunities and walk away from bad ones. A recruiter can introduce you to competitive companies, but only you can protect your interests throughout the hiring process.

Photo courtesy of Nazareth College at


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