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Working with a Recruiter – A few things candidates should know

If you haven’t worked with a professional recruiter before you may be wondering “what’s the catch?” or “will I be charged for this?” the first time you hear from one of us. Of course this is a business and we do get paid for our work. However, reputable recruiters will only charge their clients for their services, never the candidates.

For Direct Hire, fees generally range from 15% to 30% of a candidate’s yearly base salary depending on the position, market demand and negotiating prowess of the sales person but 20% is a fairly standard fee in today’s market. The client’s fees are almost always paid out of a different bucket than salaries. Generally a client sets aside a budget for recruiting efforts, this money might be spent towards hiring internal recruiters or internal job posting costs, bill boards, etc. or they may choose to spend some of that money on hiring external recruiters. Having a recruiter represent you almost never means that you will be offered less money or are less likely to get the job.

For Contract Hires, fees are built into the hourly rate and the profit margin usually ranges between 15%-25% of the hourly rate although can drop below 10% depending on the volume. Beware of layering. Much of the contract staffing business these days gets sent out to sub vendors, who may then send it on to sub-sub vendors. This can cut into your hourly rate and decreases your leverage with your employer as they have nothing to actually win or lose with the end client.

It is important for candidates to understand that the client pays the bill but the recruiter doesn’t get paid until she fills the job. so rather than thinking that the recruiter works for either the client or the candidate I think it is fair to say, a recruiter works for the fill. I think it is also good to know that our average recruiter makes some form of contact with between 300-400 candidates a month but places only 2-3 people a month. Most of the candidates and jobs a recruiter works with will not go anywhere, such is the nature of the business.

Sometimes this has lead people to feel that recruiters are mercenary hacks with no follow through skills. The truth is, some are, and it can be hard to deliver and receive so much bad news over the course of a month and still keep your head up. Honestly, would you like to look for a job for a living? But there are good recruiters out there and here is how you will recognize them.

Good recruiters have learned how to juggle the reality while still providing excellent service. a good recruiter will set your expectations as best they can. For example, some clients will not provide detailed feedback due to EEO liability concerns, others give feedback promptly and freely, while others will interview and then passive aggressively avoid providing the negative feedback. It the job search, no news is bad news. if you haven’t heard anything in a reasonable amount of time it usually is not good news, unless you are prepared for a long process beforehand.

There are a lot of recruiters out there that are not working directly with their client and others who just don’t know how to ask good questions. good recruiters have a direct relationship with the client. They are knowledgeable about their client and the job they are working. if they don’t know something they will attempt to get the information.

Some recruiters are very much closed about their client information. I find this mostly to be because they either don’t know anything about the client or they are afraid the candidates will attempt to circumvent them and submit themselves directly to the client in the mistaken belief that this will increase their chances or being placed. the reality is more candidates get lost in the black whole of the human resources department than ever circumvent a recruiter. Remember that to the hiring managers, by the time the position has gone to an external recruiter, it is usually because human resources has already tried and failed to fill the job.

You should expect your recruiter to:

  • Know their clients and their jobs
  • Be free with information about their clients
  • Be up front about challenges
  • Provide both positive and negative feedback whenever possible
  • Make their best effort to close the deal

As a candidate a recruiter should expect you to:

  • Provide honest communication about your interest and other prospects
  • Provide honest disclosure of salary and work history
  • Keep your recruiter in the loop with new developments at the client
  • Respect their time and efforts
  • Ultimately make the best decision for you and your family