When your resume is placed before a hiring manager from a recruiter, you are automatically more expensive because you come with a recruiter’s fee. If the recruiter is a trusted vendor, it can help. If the recruiter is not, it hurts. Here’s the deal.
There are two types of recruiters:
Retained recruiters get paid regardless of who gets hired. These firms are “retained” upfront to do the research on what kind of candidate will be the best cultural fit and bring the most appropriate management style. The client, then, chooses from a set of candidates that has already been pre-screened.
There are increasingly fewer of these as corporations get increasingly stingy about paying retainer fees. They tend to operate only at the highest levels (C-suites or board positions) or for the “hard to find” fit such as a business unit leader with experience in both circus operations and waste management.
Contingency recruiters get paid if their candidate gets hired. They are in fierce competition with anyone and everyone who may seek to put a horse in the race. Contingency recruiters can run the gamut from fairly unscrupulous individuals who want to put through a high volume of warm bodies, to highly trained professionals who essentially are retained recruiters without the upfront fee.
The unscrupulous types will be happy to tell you that you have been selected for your excellent record to join a prestigious marketing organization and then send you to a busy downtown corner to wear a sandwich board and pass out leaflets. They are probably sending 50-100 people per week and always looking for more because the burnout rate is high.
Professional recruiters have good relationships with their clients and will tell you a bit about the atmosphere of the office they represent, what the managers are seeking, the type of person who succeeds in the role and what to expect in the interview process. They want you to succeed so they can get paid, but they also have a close relationship with the client.
The questions to ask the recruiter are:
How many candidates have you placed with this client?
Do you know the hiring manager (the person who makes the decision on the candidate) or the recruiter (the person who serves candidates up to the hiring manager)?
How long have you been working with this client?
Do you know specifically what the hiring manager is looking for or does not like?
If you get the feeling based on the answers that the recruiter does NOT have an established relationship with the client, don’t allow him or her to send in your resume. You’ll be a more expensive, less desirable candidate coming from an unknown candidate.