It’s almost always going to be to your advantage to use a recruiter from the beginning in your job search—especially if you are making a significant career transition. Why? Because the right recruiter is going to be a valuable part of your network, a vital resource for insider company information and jobs, and an advocate for you in your job search. Understanding how this relationship works is key to your successful outcome—a job offer.
Some recruiters work directly for a particular company (an internal recruiter) and look for candidates for only that company. Most recruiters are contingency recruiters (external recruiters) who work independently, finding candidates to submit for positions at multiple companies. Their client is the hiring company, and they get paid by that company when the candidate is successfully hired. That’s why a recruiter never charges a candidate for “finding” a job for him or her. Some candidates mistakenly believe they can give their resumes to recruiters and expect them to find jobs that will be a good fit. In reality, it’s the other way around. Recruiters have jobs to fill, and look for candidates who can successfully fill that role. The candidate is the commodity, not the client, in that transaction. It’s a subtle but distinct difference.
A recruiter is a resource
Because recruiters’ own paychecks hinge on knowing who’s hiring, they are fantastic resources for the job seeker—better than any job board. They know where the jobs are, what specific hiring managers are looking for, and what companies are like to work for. Another benefit: Many of the jobs recruiters fill are never advertised. So, you get access to the “hidden job market” and become one of the select few applying for that job, rather than one of the thousands who apply to jobs posted online. In addition, a recruiter will only submit you for a job you have a good chance of getting—so your odds go up even more.
A recruiter is your advocate
Even though a recruiter is more motivated to find a candidate for a client than to find a job for you, once a recruiter submits you for a position, he or she becomes your greatest champion. Why? Because now, he or she has a vested interest in your success—the recruiter doesn’t get paid unless you get the job. That means that not only will you get the inside scoop on the hiring manager and the company, you’ll have someone who will push for a first interview, help you prepare for it based on that inside information, correct mistakes before you make them, and give you specific feedback after the interview.
The fine print
You have to remember that a recruiter won’t work with you to get a job you’ve already applied for, because the recruiter won’t get paid unless they were the first person to submit the candidate. Because recruiter’s businesses and reputations are on the line every time they submit candidates, they appreciate candidates who are up-front and honest through the entire process. Letting your recruiter run into an embarrassing surprise about you during the interview process won’t win you any points—and certainly won’t get you submitted for any more jobs.
The bottom line
If you’re serious about your job search, you will use all the resources you can find—LinkedIn, your own network, and a good recruiter. If you can find a recruiter you’re comfortable working with and respect the business relationship, you’ll find that he or she can be a gold mine of opportunity for you.