staffing firm

How Can I Hire A Recruiter To Find Me A Job?

FYI - They prefer to be called "Recruiters." / (keport)

FYI - They prefer to be called "Recruiters." / (keport)

One of the most frequent questions I get as a career coach is, "How can I hire a recruiter to find me a job?"

While developing relationships with agency recruiters, also known as headhunters, can be valuable to your job search, you usually can't hire one. Recruiters are hired by companies to find talent for their difficult-to-fill job openings.

In other words, employers pay recruiters to hunt down talent, screen candidates, and present the best qualified individuals to hiring managers and human resources staff. And these companies pay handsomely for these services, an amount in the neighborhood of 25% of the first year salary of the person they hire.

Or more, depending on the complexity of the search, or the level of the role they're looking to fill. A retained search firm hired to find a C-level executive often charges in the neighborhood of 33% of the candidate's first year total compensation (plus expenses). Let's say the search firm places a CEO with a base salary of $400K and a projected bonus of $100K for total $500K in cash compensation. At 33%, they're set to receive a check for a cool $165K for their services. It's not hard to figure out where the recruiter's loyalty lies.

That said, relationships with recruiters are a critical part of the job hunter's toolbox. A good recruiter with an established practice may have connections – and access – to potential employers. And many hiring managers are willing to take a plugged-in recruiter's calls for a couple reasons - they present good candidates, and they may have job opportunities for the hiring manager in the future.

Want to get the most out of your job search by working with recruiters? Here are eight strategies to keep in mind as you build relationships with recruiters.

  1. Be smart about which recruiters you contact. Do your research - agency recruiters typically focus on particular disciplines or areas. If you're looking for a job in the finance arena, focus on getting to know recruiters who who place finance staff – a connection with an IT recruiter, for example, may be great in terms of helping you understand the general job market or making a periodic connection, but you'll be an outlier rather than their core audience. And you'll be taking up valuable time the recruiter could otherwise be using to place candidates in their area of specialty.
  2. Approach the recruiter with tact and diplomacy. Handle your initial contact with respect. Be professional - send your resume with a brief, well-written cover note explaining why you're contacting them, and the value you can add to their practice. Keep in mind, they are under no obligation to work with you, much less find you a job.
  3. If the recruiter calls you, go through the screening process. The recruiter will want to evaluate your skills to see if you're going to be a fit for any openings they're currently working or for any future potential opportunities. Don't be offended, they're doing their job. And don't hesitate to ask if you think you're a fit with the types of roles they fit. Who knows - your skills may be quite in demand. By the way, headhunting is a fast-paced business, so don't be offended if the call is brief and direct.
  4. Be responsive. If you've made it this far, and the recruiter reaches out to you again in the future, it means that you're on their radar. Reply promptly to any emails or calls, or you'll miss out on being considered for potential opportunities. Take too long to respond and you'll be labeled as unreliable, and shuffled to the back of their candidate list.
  5. Be straightforward with the recruiter about your situation. Keep in mind that candidates are their inventory, and they reflect the recruiter's ability to present quality, reliable talent. If you've got an offer on the table or in the works, tell them. Share your target salary range. And tell the recruiter if you've already applied to a company for which they're considering submitting you, either directly or through another recruiter. They're going to present you to an employer with this criteria. And be consistent - surprises kill deals, and if you tell an employer a different salary range than you told the recruiter, for example, you will be persona non grata.
  6. Be valuable to remain front of mind. Recruiters are taught that everybody they contact will be either a A) Potential Client; B) Potential Candidate; or C) Potential Referral Source. It's not unusual for somebody to be all three at different times in the relationship. Ask what kind of jobs the recruiter is working on, or what kind of candidates they are working with. Even if you're not a candidate at this moment, if you can provide some potential leads on either of the other two categories, then the smart recruiter will remember that you did them a solid to help put money in their pocket.
  7. Feel free to work with more than one recruiter. Some recruiters have exclusive relationships with companies, so you may need to reach out to multiple individuals to be sure that you capture more potential opportunities out there in the market. But working with too many recruiters may dilute your brand;  2, maybe 3 agencies, are ideal.
  8. Most recruiters call when there is a meaningful update. If an appropriate amount of time has passed and you would like an update, call or email the recruiter. You should expect timely responses - if they don't get back to you, it may send you a message as to how relevant your application is to their workflow.

Kevin Suksi, Vice President and Cofounder of Orion Solutions Group, a full-service staffing and human capital firm, contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,

Career Burn Notice: Circumventing A Recruiter

Heh, heh, heh...   FIRE! FIRE!  ( Law)

Heh, heh, heh... FIRE! FIRE! ( Law)

How would you like to kill your reputation with every staffing firm in town – in one easy step?

The scenario. You get an unexpected call from a headhunter at a staffing firm. He's pitching a job opportunity in town with a hot technology company that's engaged him to find somebody for the position, and if you're interested, he'd like to present your resume to them. Based upon the conversation, it sounds like the job is a great match for you, and would be an interesting step forward for your career. Once you've made it abundantly clear to the recruiter that you're interested in the job, he tells you the name of the company.

"Sure sounds interesting," you say to the recruiter. "Let me think about it and get back to you."

Then, in a moment of supposed clarity you decide that you've got a better chance of representing yourself to the employer, than you do if you have the staffing firm representing you. So, you go online to the company's website, ascertain which position the recruiter was selling you, and apply. Then you go on LinkedIn and send a note to the company's human resources department.

You've cut the staffing firm out of the equation. Pretty clever, right?

Wrong. You've just earned yourself a burn notice within the staffing world.

In case you're not familiar with the term "burn notice," it's a reference to a television show in which a CIA agent is disavowed and disowned by the agency. In essence, he's been labelled unreliable, and nobody wants anything to do with him.

Here's how this applies to you. Recruiters at staffing firms earn their paycheck by placing job seekers at companies. They get paid a fee - typically in the neighborhood of 25% of the first year's salary - to find a qualified candidate and get them hired. By cutting the staffing firm who presented you the job out of the loop, you've demonstrated that you're a liability. So let's say the job paid $100,000 annually; the staffing firm was due to get a cool $25k out the deal by placing you.

You cost the recruiter 25 big ones. At minimum, you've muddied the waters in terms of how you were made aware of the job and how your resume made it into the employer's hands. At most, you've shown both the staffing agency recruiter and the employer you can't be trusted – they'll talk about your application at length, and it's pretty likely that no matter how qualified you are for the job, both parties will decide that you're a bad player and not worth pursuing. It's the end of the road for your candidacy in this particular job.

And you'll have earned a flag on your application at both the staffing firm and the employer, telling anybody who's considering you for a job to avoid you like the plague.

Think it stops there? Think again. Recruiters can change firms, and trust me - when your name comes up in conversation as a potential candidate, they'll remember how you cost them their payday. You'll be persona non grata with their new firm, too.

I'm not saying that there aren't exceptions to this situation. There are always exceptions; but you are taking a substantial risk to your reputation by circumventing the recruiter. However, if you've already applied for the job with the company, that's another story. Let the recruiter know.

Bottom Line: You may have an "in" at the potential company, or simply feel that your chances are better if you apply on your own. Fight the urge to act outside the process. The recruiter is simply doing his or her job, and by identifying you for the role they've staked their claim on you for the position. Going around them at that point will be perceived as high treason, and may hurt your cause in the short and the long term than any gains you may realize.

  • Want to boost your chances of getting noticed when applying for jobs online? Follow this link!
  • What should you do if your employer finds out you're looking for a new job? Find out here.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at, or via the website,