Recruiters: Waste Of Time, Or Powerful Allies?

Working with recruiters can be a mixed bag. Here are Career Coach Dyana King’s tips for navigating different recruiters and partnering with them to land a job.

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This article on the different types of recruiters is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.

In my work as a career coach, I often find myself fielding questions from job seekers about recruiters. It’s a recruiter’s job to put butts in seats, as they say, but there are several different types of recruiters. They are mainly differentiated by how they are compensated for making placements.  

If you know how a recruiter is compensated, you know where their incentive is focused. This also informs whether they could be a helpful resource during your job search.

Internal Recruiters

Internal recruiters are employed by a company to manage the hiring process and recruit candidates for positions within that company. Typically these recruiters are compensated with a base salary and some sort of incentive pay for placements made. 

This is the type of recruiter recent grads are most likely to encounter during a job search. 

Typical Compensation:

Companies have different metrics that their recruiters are expected to meet. They often include a certain number of interviews, candidates submitted to hiring managers, and time-to-fill ratios.

Benefits Of This Recruiter:

They work closely with hiring managers and are focused on filling positions within the company. Internal recruiters have a deep understanding of that particular company’s culture, job requirements, and career paths. This can make them valuable resources for job seekers. Depending on the size of the company, internal recruiters may even have close relationships with their hiring managers and have a lot of influence over which candidates advance through the process and which candidates do not. 

Tips For Interacting:

If you are contacted by an internal recruiter, take that call. Do not delay in following up! They are probably calling lots of candidates and once they have a few contenders their focus will be elsewhere – they have multiple jobs for which they are sourcing candidates.

Agency Recruiters

Agency recruiters, on the other hand, work for a recruitment agency. They are contracted to help companies find candidates for open positions and specialize in specific industries or job types.

Typical Compensation:

They are usually compensated by earning a commission on the fee charged by the agency to the hiring company. A typical commission for a full-time placement is 25% of the base salary. Agency recruiters are either on a straight-commission plan (meaning they only get paid when they earn a commission from a placement) or they are on a base salary plus a commission on placements they make. 

Benefits Of This Recruiter:

Agency recruiters are skilled in candidate sourcing and may have a large network of contacts to draw from, they operate a lot like salespeople. They likely have long-term relationships with hiring managers whom they have followed over several job changes. Although agency recruiters are less likely to have entry-level roles, they are good people for early career professionals to build relationships with and learn about the market and hiring trends. 

Tips For Interacting:

If you are contacted by an agency recruiter, proceed quickly and cautiously. Always ask to review a job description before granting your permission to represent you to any company; do this to avoid double submissions. Additionally, whenever working with an agency recruiter, make it clear that they do not have your permission to represent you or discuss your candidacy or availability with any hiring entity without your prior consent. 

Contract Recruiters

Contract recruiters are similar to agency recruiters, but they work on recruiting and sourcing consultants/candidates for specific projects with a specific start and end date. 

Typical Compensation:

They may work for a company directly or through a staffing agency and are usually compensated similarly to agency recruiters. They earn their commission on the margin between the hourly billing rate to the client and the hourly pay rate to the consultant. Consultants earn their rate on either a 1099 or a W-2 basis. 

Benefits Of This Recruiter:

Contract recruiters may be used when a company has a sudden need for a large number of hires or when there is a specific project that requires additional staffing, so they are often hiring for several positions at the same time at a single company.

Tips For Interacting:

If you are contacted by a contract recruiter, the same guidance applies as with agency recruiters. The difference is that an agency recruiter will likely want to negotiate your hourly rate before submitting your resume. Make sure you understand the implications of W-2 vs. 1099s even though terms will often be W-2.

Final Thoughts

Recruiting often attracts people who tend to be money driven, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It can however cause too many recruiters to act very transactionally and it results in sloppy follow-through and missed connections. 

It is important to do your own research and due diligence to ensure that you are working with a reputable recruiter who shares your values and whom you can trust to be an advocate for your skills to hiring managers and decision-makers. 

Building a good relationship with a talented recruiter can be like having your own Hollywood agent capable of landing you a starring role in the blockbuster of the summer. This won’t happen overnight and it is well worth the effort to identify a handful of quality recruiters and cultivate long-term relationships with them. 

About Dyana King

Dyana King is a career coach with Flatiron School. She previously worked as a technical recruiter and co-founded a technical recruiting agency, Thinknicity. She became a certified professional coach (CPC) in 2012 and specialized in transition and career engagement coaching.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of March 10, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Dyana King

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