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Curbing Your Frustration – 3 Lessons to understand the recruiters’ role in the job market

I like to be upbeat, but here we are going to start with common complaints about recruiters.  I know I had all of these when I started with my first search.  Why? Because I simply did not understand the recruiters’ role in the job market, I remember thinking things like:

  • The recruiters will not call me back.
  • Recruiters will not meet with me.
  • Recruiters will not look at an ‘out of the box’ candidate.
  • Recruiters are not considering my talent.

Over time I met with different recruiters (special nod to Marcia Ballinger and Bill Gleason) and understood.   My first thought was that I was really wasting our mutual time!  No need for you to do the same.   Recruiting is a challenging business, the key word is ‘business’ and understanding how this business work will help you understand on how to work with recruiters.   I don’t mean make the recruiters sound cold and it’s all about the fees, they are no different than any of us – they are just earning a living.

It begins with why recruiters are hired

The companies hire recruiters after their own networking efforts have not produced any quality candidates, they do not have expertise/process for hiring (e.g. executive or technical role), or they do not have the time to dedicate to seeking talent in a highly competitive labor market.

  • Lesson 1: Recruiters work for the companies that hire them.

Finding Exact Talent versus Talent

Now that the company is going to pay @30% of the salary to find someone, they are going to get their money’s worth.  They may ask for talent from specific companies, departments, schools, tenure at last firm, etc.  They also provide the type of person they want (e.g. process oriented, global view, etc.) to fit their culture.

It’s now the recruiters’ job to try to bring the company potential candidates who fit as close as possible to the requirements provided.

  • Lesson 2: Recruiters are not looking for talent; they are looking for exact talent as requested by their client. The recruiter is not blind to our good talent, if it does not fit the client’s need, they need to keep searching.

Identifying potential candidates to present

Putting this in the simplest terms possible, there are three elements to how recruiters present candidates to earn their fees:

1)      Build a ‘call list’ of potential candidates through researching databases (internal/external), working their existing network or public postings

2)      Select candidates who do fit their client’s EXACTING requirements

3)      Convince those who qualify to look at the role and prepare them for the client meetings

Many recruiters offer more services: writing ad copy, writing job descriptions; having assessments performed, managing the scheduling of interviews, etc.

  • Lesson 3: Notice that none of these items that earn a recruiter their income include finding you a job, set this as your expectation accordingly when networking with a recruiter. If you match the requirements of a recruiter’s customer, then expect to spend tons of quality time with them.

Lastly, recruiters have two main items occupying their time.   The first is delivering qualified candidates.  When companies come to recruiters, they are ready to hire that day.  So from the 1st day, despite setting expectations, there is an urgency to get the hire done.  Recruiters may review or connect with 100+ candidates to fill a given role, which is a ton of time and effort to find an exacting match.   The second item is business development, like every business they need to be out selling their services.

Good luck today!

Mark Richards


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