What is a Recruiter and Why Might I Work With One?

Recruiters match candidates at different levels with job openings. Companies pay recruiters to find suitable applicants for select positions. Recruiters do not charge the candidates’ fees for their services. You should keep this in mind as employment agencies may call themselves recruiters but will charge you for their services.

There are many benefits to working with recruiters. Temporary work is available in many fields and is open to staff at all levels. Temporary employment allows you to choose when and where you work. So if you want to work during the academic year and take summers off, you have the option to do so. Additionally, some employers only staff certain roles through a recruitment agency. Working with a recruiter can broaden the visibility your resume gets for a given type of role.

Types of Recruiters

  • Contingency-based recruiting agencies, staffing companies, and temp agencies: Companies hire contingency-based recruiters to conduct a specific search. The recruitment agency is paid only if their candidate is hired. They usually deal with job openings below $100k/year. They often focus on staffing for temporary employment, junior, and midlevel positions. They compete with other firms when presenting candidates for job openings. So, they are likely to submit as many candidates as possible for a given role. This may be a benefit because it increases your exposure to many positions. But, this exposure may also lead you to be presented for jobs that are not a good match for your skills. To avoid this, you should have an open flow of communication with the recruiter about the positions to which you are applying.

    • Temporary staffing agencies are a type of contingency-based firm that hires temporary employees and “lease” them to organizations. The agency conducts all initial recruiting, screening, and interviewing. The agency negotiates the contract for the temporary employee. The majority of recruitment agencies offer both health and disability benefits. Some offer holidays, medical and dental coverage, life insurance, and a 401K plan. Recruiting agencies may provide training sessions dedicated to organizational and other workplace skills. The client is the company or business that the employee works for. The client pays either a flat fee or a percentage of the starting salary to the recruiting agency. So, the recruitment agency provides you with all services at no charge.

  • Retainer-based recruiters, head-hunters, and executive search firms: Companies hire retainer-based firms to be the sole provider of recruiting services. They usually conduct many searches for their company clients. They are paid whether or not their candidate is hired. These firms typically deal with staffing for high-level positions. It is common for you to work with only one staff member at a retainer-based firm. This means that you will be “off-limits” to other members of the firm, which may limit the positions you are presented. So, you should send your materials to many retainer-based firms to increase your exposure.

Finding Recruiters

Some recruiting agencies may have long-standing contracts with larger organizations. For example, a recruiting agency may field employees to large technology-based firms only. When researching recruiting agencies, identify any niche fields you want to work in. If you identify a company that you would like to work for, you can contact the company’s human resources department. Ask them if they use a specific recruiting agency or “preferred suppliers” for hiring.

Information about recruiters can be found in the Directory of Executive Recruiters. It lists both Retainer-Based and Contingency-Based firms by geographical location and business function. Copies of the directory are available in most public libraries. You can also find recruiting firms online, in professional publications, and through networking. 

Examples of Sector Specific Agencies in New York City

Preparing for a Recruitment Agency Interview

The interview with the recruiting agency is a way for you to determine if your needs match the agency and client’s needs. Here are some questions you might ask:

  • Who are some of your clients?

  • What industries do you specialize in?

  • What kind of assignments do you specialize in?

  • When is the best time to call to see if there is work?

  • Who here handles getting my assignments and jobs? Do I have a specific contact?

  • Do you train temporary workers? If so, what kinds of training sessions or workshops do you offer?

  • Would the hiring organization be you or the company I’m placed at?

  • If the agency does the hiring:

    • Do you offer medical or vacation benefits?

    • What is your overtime policy?

    • If the company wants to hire me as a full-time employee, what is your policy?

The Do’s and Don’ts of Working With Recruiters

  • A recruiting agency may not have available work for you at all times. To maximize your options, you should register with a variety of agencies.

  • Draft a detailed cover letter. The content will be different from one that you might send to a prospective employer. This is because you are trying to help the recruiter consider you for many positions, rather than one specific job opening. Make sure you have developed a clear and concise cover letter BEFORE sending it to a recruiter. It is not a recruiter’s job to help you develop and edit these documents. When emailing recruiters send your resume and cover letter as attachments. This makes it easier for recruiters to look at your information and store it in the appropriate file. If possible, address your email to a particular person. Look on the agency website to identify recruiters specializing in your career area.

  • When speaking with recruiters you need to be articulate. Answer questions directly, and express passion about your career and what you want to do. The first call or meeting should be treated as an interview.

  • Be formal with recruiters as an example of how you will behave with clients.

  • Be sure to maintain a steady relationship to ensure that your needs are met. Communicate any changes in your plans. If the recruiter thinks you want to work with them, they will be more likely to make an effort to place you. Email any recruiter who contacts you approximately once per week.

  • You must remember that recruiting agencies are paid by clients, not by you. They may not take your interests or needs into consideration, and may offer you jobs that are unsuitable for you. Make sure that you emphasize your interests and skills, and market your qualifications when you speak with your recruiter.

  • The recruiting agency arranges all interviews between you and the company/business. They often provide only a brief summary of the company. It is your responsibility to learn about the company and your potential duties on the interview with the organization.

  • It is also your responsibility to negotiate on your behalf. For example, you should know the average wage for a given job and what you expect to be paid. If the client does not offer a satisfactory wage, you can ask the client to offer more. You can also ask the recruiting agency to assume greater financial responsibility. If the client likes you during the interview, there is a chance that the recruiting agency will want to secure the deal.

  • Once hired, you should report any feedback on your work performance to the recruiting agency. Clients may not report your progress to your recruiting agency. As a result, the recruiting agency does not know if the match was successful. By communicating such information, you will enhance your record with the recruiting agency.