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Recruiters - How to know which to trust?

I have been recently laid off after 8 years in a telco. They hired me straight out of University so I do not have much job hunting experience.

I have looked up employment ads and have had meeting with some recruiters. Some observations and questions:

- Recruiters seem to place ads that do not have openings. Are they trolling for resumes?

- I have had a telephone interview with a company arranged by a recruiter. The telehone interview went well but I did not get the position. The recruiter said that they could not agree on the terms. Is this normal?

- The same recruiter arranged an interview for me at a software company. I got along famously well with the interviewers. After the interview the recruiter said that they had found another candidate. But I saw the same position advertized a few weeks later.

- How much do recruiters make? Do employers like dealing with recruiters?

Ari Liebowitz
Friday, August 1, 2003

As far as trust is concerned, there is a simple test:  If their mouth is open... they are lying

Ben Franklin I believe.

Food chain wise, they are right above pedophiles and right below lawyers tied with real estate agents and Elvis impersonators.

Friday, August 1, 2003

During the peak a few years ago, I believe we were paying around $10,000 per hire to the headhunter (or so I was told).  This was for experienced developer positions.

It was obvious to me that the recruiter was throwing as many bodies as possible at us with no regard to their qualifications. 

I would avoid them like the plague.  Particularly in the current market I wouldn't think many companies are as beholden to them as they used to be.

I'm sure there are decent, qualified recruiters out there, I just don't know how to find them.

Friday, August 1, 2003

"Are they trolling for resumes?"

At least in Ottawa, agencies are constantly grabbing people's resumes so they can put them on the list of people to submit for government contracts. Mind you, they actually have a core group of people who get to do all the work - but they can't keep putting the same people's names on simultaneous jobs :)

Friday, August 1, 2003

Recruiters want to put you to work, that is how they make money.  However there will usually be other recruiters trying to place people in the same position as the one dealing with you.  Also there are a lot of qualified telco people looking for work, that leads to serious competition.  What you want to keep in mind is,

Has the recruiter actually talked to me before submitting me to a position?  If he has not, don't trust him.

Does she seem to know the industry that she is recruiting for?  If she does not, don't trust her.

Is he regularly failing to come to terms when selling you?  Again, don't trust him (although you also may want to look at your desired rate here - that does impact your bill rate).

Don't deal with only on recruiter or company and make very certain that more then one recruiter is sending your resume to the same job opportunity - that make you look like an idiot.

Friday, August 1, 2003

When I worked as a contractor at IBM, I worked through a recruiter (a contract agency). That went well (the agency placed me in contract after contract), and is normal (companies the size of IBM, and certain governments, often don't like dealing with individual contractors, and have 'prefered vendors' like this agency).

The limited experience and anectdotal knowledge I've had since then is similar to yours:

- Some recruiters you see do troll for resumes - the same ads are placed again and again; some get you interviews too, though not a job.

- I've never heard a recruiter say they "couldn't agree on terms". Certainly some of them say they don't want you to negotiate directly with the employers. I think of them as being, at best, agents of the employer (when you negotiate with the recruiter, it's a bit like negotiating with the employer's HR). If what they told you is the true reason (which it may not be) this sounds to me like they had have a prior arrangement (some recruiters find your resume, find the advertisement, make a match, send you along, and try to take a cut - I imagined that the better recruiters are agents of the employer, commisioned by the employer to find you, and already know the terms).

Being hired via a recruiter had one possible advantage to you that I can see: the possibility of their being able to place you into a series of contracts.

Finding recruiters you should 'trust' might be a matter of finding trustworthy people who are willing to recommend some ... I wouldn't pin all my hopes on recruiters, and prefer to find ads from employers. Some employers seem to advertise only on their own web sites (not on the usual job boards) if they advertise at all.

Christopher Wells
Friday, August 1, 2003

... make very certain that NOT more than one recruiter is sending your ...

Christopher Wells
Friday, August 1, 2003

Yes, they are "trolling" for resumes. This makes sense because they want to be able to reply to a job position quickly. If they are competent, they'll want to know about a candidate before they present him/her to a client.

Keep in mind that many jobs are only available through a head hunter (at least this was true a few years ago).

Also keep in mind that the headhunter works for the following in the indicated order: 1) the head-hunter, 2) the employer, 3) you.

Usually, the head-hunter won't get his/her cut if you don't work out for the company (during some period like 6months).

Friday, August 1, 2003

Ari Liebowitz wrote, "Recruiters - How to know which to trust? "

None of them.

There are bascially three types of recruiters:

1) Headhunters
2) Brokers
3) Consulting firm/Staffing firm Recruiters

Sounds to me like you are only dealing with headhunters who are trying to place you into a full-time salaried position.

Ari Liebowitz wrote, "Recruiters seem to place ads that do not have openings. Are they trolling for resumes?"

No and Yes.  If they waited until an actual job order came across their desk before placing a job ad one of their competitiors would beat them to the punch.

Ari Liebowitz wrote, "The recruiter said that they could not agree on the terms. Is this normal?"

Yes, but "normal" always depends on the situation and what type of recruiter you are dealing with.  For example, at many staffing firms/consulting firms there is a certain profit margin these type of companies must make on each person they do with business with (i.e. at least 45% of your hourly rate).

Ari Liebowitz wrote, "How much do recruiters make? Do employers like dealing with recruiters?"

Money depends on what type of recruiter you are talking about. 

Large corporations typically only do business with a small number of staffing firms/consulting firms.  Why?  Because they believe it is convenient for them to do so.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, August 1, 2003

Based on my experience last summer of finding my first post-Ph.D. job, I think recruiters are not very helpful during a down economy. I found my job through via contacts in my professional community.

My advice then is to use as many recruiters as you can. But also aggressively look on your own. And don't let recruiters represent you at companies where you already have good contacts.

David Fischer
Friday, August 1, 2003

"I think recruiters are not very helpful during a down economy"

I think recruiters are not very helpful during an up economy either - you just can't tell.

Look at it this way - the recruiter is paid by the company hiring you; whose interests does he have at heart?


Friday, August 1, 2003

Look at it this way - the recruiter is paid by the company hiring you; whose interests does he have at heart?

His own. Not the company's and not your's.

Tom Vu
Saturday, August 2, 2003

Tom, that's true, but trite - it doesn't help understanding this at all.

Let's look at it this way - a recruiter's got two candidates for a job, you and Other Guy (OG). You're perfectly qualified for the job, a good fit, etc, etc. OG marginally meets the requirements. You want $50/hr, which is about what the job should pay; OG wants $40/hr (which he's really not worth).

Recruiter gets paid for filling the position, flat rate.

Recruiter is going to first try to talk you down to $40/hr. When you won't budge, they'll send in OG first and tell the client "he is representative of all the candidates"

Because, quite simply, clients are more likely to hire cheaper people. Getting you that job will require more work on the recruiter's part.

Of course, if client hires OG and hates him, it's not recruiter's fault - that's simply the material he has to work with.

This is just my gut feeling based on basic human nature and salesmanship... YMMV


Saturday, August 2, 2003

Here's the way things really are.

Most companies that are too large to have a guy like Joel in charge of technical hiring and management, instead delegate hiring to Human Relations.

HR's current wet dream is absolute non-meritocracy on the job, a sort of Soviet view of personal performance. HR's "dream" is that your talent and experience mean nothing and so they can justify paying you whatever they choose.

Agency recruiters fulfill this role as handmaidens of HR.  Their role is generally to locate the cheapest talent that is capable of nominally (in name only) satisfying hiring requirements.

I personally think that 95% of recruiters are scumbags and are untrustworthy.  The *ONLY* way to ascertain the honesty of the chosen few is past performance.

I'd personally say - kick out those that knock your experience or demean your person or professionalism.  Life is too short - f*** them, they were generally the party animals in college (if they even went w/o dropping out) so recruiters are no judge of your character or your abilities.

The very largest recruitment agencies can be the most dishonest, too.

So, bias your choice in favor of non condescending recruiters from smaller agencies.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, August 2, 2003

"I think recruiters are not very helpful during an up economy either - you just can't tell."

Perhaps, but in an up economy they might actually get you an interview. The recruiters I worked with got me *zero* interviews. I was unimpressed with them.

I landed my own interviews and found my own job.

Next time I look for a job, I will use recruiters, because they are one more resource. But I won't have high expectations for them.

David Fischer
Monday, August 4, 2003

I worked for Motorola and Amdocs 6 years as a contractor at another company. It was quite successful experience and today I keep good relationship with my past employer.

Evgeny /Javadesk/
Monday, August 4, 2003

Trustworthy recruiters will not last - in IT at least - so know straight off that you're dealing with scoundrels.

It's not true that they don't get paid if you "don't work out." They will usually provide a replacement and get the fee that way. They will even encourage the employer to replace you if the employer has the slightest doubts.

Names Faces Places had an interesting tale that rings true: one reason recruiters want everyone on their database is that, when a vacancy comes up, they put forward one or two favoured candidates, then ring other possible candidates and tell them they're being put forward, even though they're not.

This prevents those other candidates applying through other agencies and reduces the competition.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

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