Recruiters Are Not “Employment Superheroes”

Posted on March 30, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Sadly, this basic concept seems to have eluded many job seekers out there. I’m not sure how it started exactly, but somewhere along the way many candidates began to lump recruiters and headhunters into the same category as social workers, believing that simply out of their own generosity they tirelessly look for just the right job to suit each candidate.

In other words, they are “employment superheroes,” out there doing the work for you.

Now don’t get me wrong…there are many kind-hearted recruiters out there who do care very much about candidates and who would like to see them achieve their goals.

But that’s not what the recruiter is there for…solving all your job search woes.

It’s pretty simple. A recruiter, typically, will only be looking for candidates who fit with the types of positions he or she is being paid to recruit for (or will be paid for if a suitable candidate can be found).

If you don’t fit with what the recruiter needs, then he or she can’t help you. The recruiter might keep your info on file and contact you if anything does come up, but basically it is time to move on.

I’m not sure why this relationship then becomes so complex for many job seekers. Instead they hang on every word the recruiter says. “He told me he would call me in a couple weeks.” “She said my resume doesn’t have enough business development in it.”

They can’t seem to capture the code words here for “I don’t have anything right now.” It’s kind of like the “let’s just be friends” speech so often given at the end of a dating relationship.

Instead of getting the message, the job seeker runs off to their resume writer screaming, “why did you short-change me on business development?” (Never mind that they are looking for a technical job.)

I also find that once many job seekers begin talking to recruiters, they stop putting much effort into their job search. Instead they play the waiting game. (It’s kind of like the job posting boards, where the resumes go in, never to be heard from again. Yet everyone keeps posting anyway and then waiting for something to happen.)

I’m not saying recruiters won’t contact you, but again, only if they have a specific position for which you are suited that happens to come across their desk, not because they are staying up at night worrying about finding a position for you.

This point is very important, especially now when position openings are few and job searches are taking longer and longer. So don’t just talk with one or two recruiters; talk with several. And find ones that work in your field or industry.

But whatever you do, diversify your job search approach. Networking! Group Job Hunting! Every year they consistently rank the highest in effectiveness for job seekers, and every year I have to spend hours convincing candidates of the benefits. Instead I hear, “I just know this recruiter is going to come through for me!” Ah, the employment superheroes…

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3 Responses to “Recruiters Are Not “Employment Superheroes””

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Nice post. Just like not all people are polite and helpful, not all recruiters are polite and helpful. It helps to recognize that they have a job to do. If they do not call back or reply to email, it should be clear that they are on to the next candidate or open position. It is not not personal. The issue is that for those looking for work right now each rejection has an additive impact.

Good point, Richard! For the job seeker, it is personal. And for good reason….that was my purpose in writing the post so that job seekers could understand that the primary role of the recruiter is to help the company fill its open position, not to help job seekers find jobs. Of course, it can be a win-win when it works out, but a recruiter cannot and will not take over the search process for the job seeker. Hopefully, it can help to set the proper expectations for the job seeker of what the recruiter relationship is really all about.

[…] and large, recruiters are just professionals like you and me, not some type of employment superheroes with their fingers on the pulse of all things “hiring.” Generally, they either are […]


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