When you are looking or a new job or to start a career recruiters are able to help in your job search. Depending on your skill-set and motivation, recruiters can be a great resource, but sometimes a recruiter will be unable to help you at all – even if the recruiter says he/she can. First it is helpful to understand what recruiters do.
Recruiters for the most part are paid consultants of search. They are asked to help source the best possible candidates for either difficult positions or to help extremely busy or understaffed Human resource departments find great candidates. Recruiters only get paid either via a retained search agreement or via a contingent search agreement – this means they are only paid if they are able to find the ideal candidate for a company and that company hires them.

A recruiter only makes money if someone they present to their client – even if it is not you – is placed with that client and they actually stay for 90-120 days or so. Clients pay these fees, candidates do not. In a sense to some recruiters or recruiting companies; candidates like you are a commodity they sell to the client – good recruiters understand that it is really a social contract between recruiters and candidates, bad recruiters simply view you as a pay check and will try to place you with a position you may not like or you are not a fit for. So, basically recruiters do not work for you, they work for their clients. But, they work with you and can be helpful even if you aren’t what they are looking for. Recruiting is part sales and part Human Resources.

Now that you have a basic understanding about what recruiters do when should you use a recruiter. Well, first of all you should always reach out to good recruiters and accept recruiters’ communication or e-mails, but they might not be able to help – they ought to tell you when they can’t and as quickly as possible. But, what are recruiters looking for?

Recruiters are looking for candidates that their clients are willing to pay a fee. Clients want a Lexus or BMW of a candidate; they don’t want a used Escort or a beat up Dodge pick-up. Most the time this is based on how great the resume looks not your actual experience. So before you reach out to a recruiter have a polished resume geared towards your ideal career handy. Secondly, recruiters can’t really help job hoppers. A candidate that has 10 years of experience but 5 jobs in those ten years isn’t the type of person they want to pay recruiters to see. There are exceptions to the rule, but in general, clients won’t pay fees for job hoppers. Also, the ideal candidate will have 3-15 years of experience. More than 15 years of experience and clients are unlikely to pay fees as well. So if you have more than 15 years of professional experience and you aren’t a corporate executive you probably shouldn’t use recruiters as a source for your job search.

You should use recruiters as one of your resources if you have less than three jobs in 10-15 years and you are semi-actively looking to make a move in the next couple of months or for better opportunities. Beyond that, don’t rely on recruiters entirely the odds of getting a job through a recruiter are about 10-15% at best. But, recruiters are great sources of information on the job market and general industry insights even if they are unable to help you 90-85% of the time. Working with the right recruiters increases your odds of getting positions. More often than not, recruiters work on positions that aren’t necessarily open to the public or posted on the employers’ job sites.

Recruiters should only be a part of a job search, but not the only one. When starting your job search plan and work out a strategy for finding the perfect career. Do your research and leave no stone upturned.

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