Written by: Jason Van Dusen
There is a lot of material out there that presents information on both sides of the fence as to the value or frustration that goes along with working with a recruiter. Is it even worth it? Naturally I am biased, but not because I make my living in the recruiting industry. I am biased because I have an insider’s view of 15 years’ worth of data and personal experiences. Many times I see articles bashing the industry as a whole or the lackluster experience that a recruiter provided to someone. It is usually something like GOOD recruiter versus BAD recruiter and most of the associated comments (if it is a blog) are a back and forth “he said/she said” format with each person standing their ground. I get it, believe me, just because I am in this industry doesn’t mean that I’m immune to the things I read about or haven’t had a poor experience firsthand as a candidate myself. The fact of the matter is everyone can a hit home run or strike out at times. If you do something long enough you will have some success stories to talk about and you will have racked up some failures as well. Are there good recruiters? Yes! Are there bad recruiters? Of course, I have interacted with a lot of them throughout my career. But there are a lot of other components that come together to make up either a positive or negative experience. I choose to assess it on a case-by-case basis as opposed to looking at it from an overall view. It is very possible for someone to have a life changing experience with the same recruiter that gets blasted by someone else. Yep, true story. What I have learned over time is most people that have given up on the idea of working with a recruiter are frustrated not because the outcome wasn’t successful, but simply because that specific experience was highly unfulfilling. Right or wrong, anyone working in a recruiting capacity has a lot they are entrusted with and most people that develop a long-term career in staffing do so because they love helping people and solving problems. If recruiters sold key chains or socks (no offense to the key chain and sock folks), the effect would not be as visible. Few industries have such emotion tied into them. We are talking about people’s livelihoods – putting food on the table, paying a mortgage, saving for retirement. And that is the point – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The idea of assisting someone with something so personal, revealing, and potentially life changing is a BIG deal. I want to shed some light on a couple of things I think are important, and not because I want to speak up for my industry or anything like that. I want to show HOW and WHY the process can work and alternatively, break down so easily. My goal is always to answer questions and empower everyone I can with information. That way each person can make the best decisions for themselves and their families and do so confidently without any mystery involved.
So…is there really any value in working with a recruiter?
Why might someone have a Poor experience working with a recruiter?
- Working with someone who sees your relationship as a partnership working toward the same goal can give you a massive advantage over someone who is not, and more importantly an advantage over “the system”
- They can give you a direct line to the hiring manager and help to streamline things
- They can walk you through the interview process, set realistic expectations, and prepare you for what you are about to embark on
- A recruiter can take away some of the mystery from the hiring process – no submitting a resume to a “black hole”
- If they have a true relationship with the company and the manager, that trust and rapport is immediately transferred to you
- They can do and say things that you probably wouldn’t do or say. Experienced recruiters have had a lot of tough and impactful conversations and that can help if and when those circumstances arise
- The time that goes into finding the right job takes valuable time away from you during the core hours of your day. A recruiter is going to take this out of your hands
- You are working with someone that has the unique ability to look inside multiple companies instead of just where you have worked. They can tell you about the job market and educate you on the competitive landscape in your industry. They can let you know who is hiring, WHY they are hiring, who pays under market, who invests in their employees, which companies offer robust benefits and 401K, etc., etc.
Why you may have had a Poor experience
- The recruiter(s) you worked with saw the relationship as a transaction. They didn’t ask you Enough questions or the Right questions – in turn, you thought that was what the “recruiting experience” was supposed to be. Consequently, it failed you.
- You saw the relationship as a transaction. They asked you the right questions and tried to really build a relationship with you, but you held your cards too closely to your chest and didn’t provide them with enough to actually help.
- You worked with someone that was never grounded in the recruiting industry – they tried it out for a year or two (or maybe they bounced around every 6-12 months for years) and left to go and try to figure out what they want to do when they grow up
- You worked with a recruiter who was not working on any positions that were relevant to you. Each company has a specific clientele that they support and they recruit for their specific positions. Unfortunately, most recruiting companies are highly reactive to the needs of their clients. If you are a Project Manager looking for help and the recruiter (or the company you are working with) spends 99% of their time supporting Infrastructure and Security needs for those clients, the probability of them finding a relevant opportunity for you is slim. As a side note, you may be working with a tenured recruiter who is really good at what he or she does and based on that, you would like to have them help you get a job with XYZ company. Unless that recruiter (or the company they work for) has a signed contract to do business with XYZ company, there is a very small chance that they can help you out. Sure, it exists, but they need your help to build a compelling business case as they approach the company as an outsider trying to get in. That is a big hurdle and can take a tremendous amount of time. Unless there is overwhelming short and long-term value, most companies do everything they can to give the Heisman to yet another company that wants to work with them. I get it. Naturally if the recruiter knows someone personally at XYZ Company they can make a warm introduction (see my post entitled “Looking for a New Job? Do These 5 Things”), but they can’t guide you through the process and help you out in the same way they could if it was with one of their current clients.
Obviously, this is a very abbreviated list – I can think of about 20 other relevant points I could add, but I feel like these are the most pertinent. The point being, there are a lot of moving parts and the difference between amazing and awful comes down to communication and expectation setting. Everyone will read this with their own experiences in mind and as someone that either sees the glass half full or half empty. I am not trying to sway anyone either way, but just provide some reasons why people have such drastically different experiences. By the way, if you are a “glass half empty” type of person, remember that wherever you go, you will be there. The best advice I can give you is if you are willing to give it a chance…or give it a second or third chance, working with a recruiter can be beneficial. The experience should be about YOU and you alone. You need to be willing to expose yourself a bit (which I know can be tough for some people), be forthcoming with the recruiter you are working with, be honest with Yourself, and consider the relationship a partnership. Once you are committed to doing that, make sure you are working with the right person – this is HUGE. Do your diligence, look at their profile – how much experience do they have? How long have they been a Recruiter? What company do they work for? (this can key you into the types of clients they are working with), Do they have any LinkedIn Recommendations? Do you like them personally? Do they make the conversation about YOU or THEM? You wouldn’t let someone you don’t know, don’t like, or don’t trust look after your kids so why not be particular about who is looking after your professional career? Take control and be empowered.
integrITalent is a technology focused recruiting firm based in Frisco, Texas that offers retained and contingent services to our clients and candidates. We approach each unique relationship with a servant leadership mentality so we can align talented, like-minded people. If we can help you with your job search, please visit our website at www.integritalent.com or call us at 214-620-2082.