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I have spent 1 year working as the Agency Recruitment. In that 1 year, I learned a lot about Recruiting, Hiring Practices, and also the inside secrets of the Recruiting Field.

Here I am sharing my experience (think of it as an Inside Look at the Industry).

There are some things here, that might offend an Agency Recruiter or even Candidates; I am just sharing the reality I have seen or experienced.

1. Agency Recruiters Work for Companies, Not Candidates

Recruiters are paid a commission/ finder’s fee for finding the best candidate for a role. The fees are anywhere between 10% to 30% depending on the role. Some Recruiters work on a retainer, mainly for Senior Executive positions (think of the retainer the same way lawyers charge you a retainer for their service).

As a candidate, do remember that you are one of the many candidates any recruiter will be interviewing & recommending to their clients.

Most of them will just submit your resume to the Hiring Manager and hope you get a call. Most recruiters have a quota – how many candidates they have to contact per month, how many interviews,etc.; and their job is to sweep the market for candidates for potential fit.

They are not obligated to work or represent you. So, take everything a recruiter will say to you with a grain of salt. Don’t be over-excited just because you got a call from a recruiter. It is a part of the Interview process.

Many times the Hiring Manager / Employer will be working with multiple agencies. The competition level, even when being represented by a recruiter is pretty high. So don’t expect too much unless and until you have an interview with the Hiring Manager in person.

2. Recruiters Do Not Care About You, They Care About Hitting Their Targets

As a candidate, do not put all your eggs in one basket. If you are suddenly in the market – looking for a job – don’t have a conversation with just one recruiter.

Recruiters have monthly targets to meet, they need to make a living. Most of them work on a draw or commissions – some agencies work like sweat-shops; the activity metrics they have to hit are high in many cases. They may not be able to give you the attention that you want. At the end of the day, they have to eat, so they will do their best to meet those targets.

3. You Don’t Need a Recruiter to Get a Job

Job Interview Questions

If you are someone with strong credentials and experience, then you will get opportunities to come your away, and perhaps a job opportunity. I personally have never got a job going through a recruiter. Most of the job offers I have received, have come directly by applying on Job boards (LinkedIn, Indeed,etc.).

If you are looking for a full-time career, then you don’t necessarily need an agency recruiter to represent you. It will be nice to have connections – they could expose you to opportunities that you might not have heard before.

There are a few exceptions where Recruiters are absolutely useful.

For Senior Executive positions, Head-hunters are key. The current CEO Marissa Mayer was recommended as a potential candidate by a Head-Hunter (someone with lots of experience and connections in the Technology Industry).

Another scenario where Recruiters are beneficial – it would be if you are a Consultant or Contractor, especially IT – then agency recruiters are handy. They receive opportunities from select clients on specific engagements. Some of those jobs are not advertised.

4. Candidates – Please Don’t Call Your Recruiters Every Day

This has happened to me. Once in a while, I have dealt with candidates who are an absolute pain in the ass. They call you every 2 days asking for the status. They want to know if you heard back from the Client.

Seriously, is the constant follow-up necessary?

If the recruiter gets a callback- you will be the first person to hear back.

As mentioned before, if you are a candidate and you have only applied for one job through one recruiter- it is your fault. Don’t zero-in on one opportunity. And don’t call them every day( I am repeating myself here).

5. Recruiters Don’t Want to Tell You the Bad News

In most cases, they will get immediate feedback from the client. If you are a great fit – you will hear back. If you are not the right candidate – the Hiring Manager usually tells the Recruiter that.

But many recruiters will not call the candidate and inform the bad news. They either don’t want to tell you the truth, not to hurt your feelings. In some cases, they won’t have the courtesy to call you back.

6. Don’t Give Your References Unless You Receive a Job Offer

This is an unethical thing that an agency recruiter does. Some agencies will ask you upfront for your references, even before you are represented to a Client.

They use those references as a prospecting tool. They will call your references; and towards the end of the call- will try to convert your reference into a prospect/client.

How do I know that? Because I have made those calls. It is a general practice in the Industry.

Now imagine you, as a candidate has met with 5 agencies, and you have given your references to all 5 agencies. Each reference will get 5 calls – asking them the same questions.

If I was on the other side (someone giving a reference) I will be annoyed if asked to give multiple references for the same candidate.

Save your references, until you are the final candidate. Think of references as a formality, a final step in the hiring process. It is not the first step in the hiring process.

7. Recruiters’ Fee Is High

Recruiter Doing an Interview

For full-time roles- the fees charged by a Headhunter are straight-forward. Let’s say the pre-negotiated fee is 20%, then the client only pays 20% of the Candidate’s Salary.

Example – If the candidate’s salary is $50000 – then for a role that is filled by the Agency- the fees are 20% or $10000.

However, for contract positions – the fees are exorbitant – Agencies charge a premium fee. In some cases, I have seen it as high as 50%.

Let’s say as a Contract Java Developer – you have agreed to get paid $35 per hour. You think that is fair and you are happy with it. The recruiter convinced you that this is a great rate.

However, the end-client is billed $60 an hour. So the remaining markup of $25 per hour is the fees that go to the agency. I have always found that distasteful.

The candidate does all the work, the client provides the candidate the job; the client pays the candidate from their pocket. So why should the Recruitment Agency make a huge chuck (per hour)?

Some organizations are building a talent pool of candidates -(both full-time and part-time) – they realize that the agency recruiter fees are exorbitant- so they are investing in Candidate sourcing tools.

Many corporations have stopped working with agency recruiters because of the high fees. I have noticed many organizations are hiring in-house sources & recruiters. They are building an in-house recruitment shop to give maximum attention to both the Hiring Manager and the candidates.

8. Most Agency Recruiters Don’t Know What They Are Doing

Do me a favor – go to LinkedIn or Google, and search for Recruitment Agencies in your city. I can bet you can find tons.

The seasoned Headhunters have been in the busy for many years. However, most of the agency recruiters are young and inexperienced. It is the fact, most of the recruiters are out of college.

Don’t trust me? Take a look at LinkedIn. It is sometimes hard to put your career in the hands of a new grad who most likely has no clue what he or she is doing.

However, in some cases their expertise and experience are valuable – I have cited the example of how Marissa Mayer was able to find the CEO opportunity at Yahoo.

If you are a candidate- do your due diligence before meeting up with a recruiter. Find out about them, the company, and their industry experience.

9. Do Your Own Due Diligence

I think I have mentioned it again and again – Recruiters are paid by the client. They are not collecting a fee from you. So their loyalty is always towards the client (Money Talks).

In some cases, some recruiters have tried the hard-sell on me. They have done their best to steer me towards the role they are recommending.

Always take such advice with a grain of salt. You are making an important decision – financial, emotional, career. Make a rational decision.

An agency recruiter does not like it when candidates take the time to make a decision. I am a firm believer that any important decision should be given thorough consideration. I personally have been duped in the past- I got sold on one job by a passionate recruiter; I took that job over another one; and in the end regretted taking up the offer.

Find out everything you can about the Industry, the Hiring Manager, the company, etc.

You can always do the traditional approach of applying directly for a company you choose to work. For example, if you were interested in a career in Engineering, go to a career page of a Top Global Engineering firm such as Atkins– you are able to know everything about a Career in that industry on visiting a company’s website.

Alternatively, you can also visit most company’s sponsored pages. For instance, Salesforce does a great job of showcasing their culture and values on its LinkedIn page.

What has your experience been as a candidate dealing with an agency recruiter?

Written By
Nissar Ahamed is the Founder & CEO of CareerMetis.com. He is also the host of The Career Insider Podcast and the co-host of The C.A.R.E. Podcast

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