Working with a recruiter?

I seem to hear the same kinds of questions asked over and over again. I recently replied to a thread on JoelOnSoftware about how/when to work with recruiters. I figured it was worth repeating here.

DISCLAIMER: What follows is my opinion. My experience is in the continental United States, and I assume you are pursuing a full-time, on-site employee role. I suggest working with a recruiter if you can find one of high enough calibre, but that should not be your job search alone. Larger companies tend to work with candidates directly, as will small ones; it’s the medium-sized companies that tend to use recruiters – in my experience.

That said …

My advice is that if you are in one specific geographic area, very carefully pick a single recruiter and work with them. The reason to do this is because if you are working with four recruiters, and each sends your resume to BigCo, BigCo may decline to hire you for legal reasons. (They want to avoid paying four recruiters fees, and they want to avoid a lawsuit – or, more likely, strained relations and a lot of wasted time.)

Recruiters from large, publicly-traded companies (K-Force) tend to be more respectable. Recruiters that show up to user’s group meeting s and don’t get laughed at or “Called out” can be especially good. Ask who in that user’s group, that they know, have they placed. Use that as a reference.

Groups that do permanent placement are usually better than contracting houses.

If you are thinking of moving, sure, work with one recruiter from NYC and one from California and one from Florida.

Conclusion: Get references, shop around, and pick ONE.

3 comments on “Working with a recruiter?

  1. And even if you are not currently searching, keep in touch with your chosen recruiter(s). I ping mine, or he pings me about once a month just to make sure we haven’t forgotten about each other. He not only tries to convince me to take one of his jobs, but if he has trouble finding a candidate for one he will tap my network — including a finders fee.

    Oh, and going for lunch with them is a good way to have your lunch paid for too. 🙂

  2. Having more than one recruiter submit your resume for a position can hurt your prospects. This is especially true if the companies submit your services at different rates or the resume used by one company is different than another.

    Shop around.

    If a recruiter is very selective about dealing with you, that’s a good sign. The good recruiters do more than throw resumes at employers.

    Ask about pay and benefits if the position is one in which you will become an employee of a staffing firm. Both pay and benefits offered for the same position may vary greatly. Some staffing firms offer medical benefits that I believe are useless. I was once offered insurance with annual premiums that were equal to half the maximum payout of the policy.

    If there is a potential that a contract staffing position may turn into a full-time employment offer from the client, ask under what conditions that is possible. Some staffing firms do not allow you to take a position with a client for a period of time or may have a high buy-out fee that either you or the client has to pay to transition into an employee.

    There are some bad recruiters out there, but there are plenty of GREAT ones. Find a good one.

    Ben Simo

  3. I actually don’t mind going through a recruiter. A lot of firms only do their hiring through recruiters or referrals nowadays. I consider it the passive portion of my job search. You need to keep yourself in the recruiters mind because they forget due to having many clients and you can do this by following up with him.Keep intouch with your chosen recruiters, that way you never forget one another!


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