Why Use a Recruiter?

This question is something that’s been nagging me lately. And the question is for both sides of the equation, both job seekers and employers. This is also just about external recruiters. Internal recruiters at companies aren’t really part of this entry.

Let’s start from the employer’s view. What does the recruiter bring other than a flurry of resumes? The recruiter really doesn’t care about the well being of your company nor do they usually take the time to get to know enough about your organization to find the proper fit people wise. Some even try to force you to follow their process instead of yours (Boylston Group anyone?) In my experience with recruiters I have heard them me outright lies about why a person was late, lie about what is in their contract and forget to screen resumes properly before sending them to us. Shall I go on? Most don’t even proofread the resumes they send us for spelling and grammer mistakes. Most aren’t technical enough (even though they are technical recruiters) to understand the most basic things about the technologies we work with to know what’s applicable for our organization and what’s not. They send resumes that are too long for the experience level of the candidate (the 9 page resume for a 6 year career is evidence of that). And for this we’re supposed to pay them somewhere between 15 and 25% of the person’s first year salary? It’s almost as bad as when you use a real estate broker and/or realtor. The recruiter only gets paid when you hire someone so of course they’re going to throw everything at you to see what sticks. It doesn’t cost them anything to flood you with resumes.

So again, why use them? From an employment seeker (aka me) I guess the only reason might be is if they bring me a company I didn’t find on my own or when my network isn’t producing any leads that are appealing at the time. That’s their value add at the moment. I’m really surprised that job sites haven’t gotten better at filling these gaps. Most are just nothing more than glorified classifieds so I suppose that’s one reason. Small to medium sized companies don’t want to bother with the full time expense of a recruiter or don’t have enough jobs to fill to justify one either.  I’m not sure why they don’t just use a contract recruiter, though.

The real rub here from an employer’s standoint is that if you actually have a company that is fun to work at and your workers really enjoy it they would probably actually bring in friends and old co-workers they liked working with. Something to think about if none of your engineers are referring people. Actions speak louder than words.

6 thoughts on “Why Use a Recruiter?

  1. I agree that job hunting sites have alot of areas for improvement and the industry hasn’t changed much.

    What suggestions do you have for improving the state of things? Other than the obvious ones you listed above, as abiding by those rules isn’t in the agency’s best interest as you pointed out.

  2. Hi Mike! I found recruiters to be useful for the first few years of my IT career. I’m sure they made more money off of me than I did, but it helped keep me employed until I built my professional network of contacts. Every contract and full-time gig for the last seven years or so has been introduced by referral. On the other side of the coin, in my current full-time position I have seen the resume fest of unqualified people that recruiters try to push onto us. Luckily when we need network engineering augmentation the three of us have a vast pool of resources to poll. Other departments don’t appear to be as lucky. My thoughts. Happy Fourth! –Eric

  3. I don’t necessarily think that it’s in an agency’s best interest to operate the way they do. The bullpen style agencies have no other way to work and quite honestly they have no use in my opinion. I have yet to really hear from anyone happy with them. The better recruiters I have been exposed to (there are a few) do the necessary background work to put better candidates in front of employers. They do very well and I mean very well.

    I’m not really sure how to improve things. I still think that finding out why your developers don’t want to help recruit friends/ex-coworkers from their networks is the best way to solve a lot of problems if you aren’t getting referrals in this form. The next is to just not do business with the body shop style recruiting agencies. Another way is to use LinkedIn to find people. I get a lot of contacts this way from companies looking to hire people. Job sites are a pain in the ass currently because you easily tell that there are usually 3 or 4 postings for the same job and they all come from different recruiters.

  4. Gotta agree with Mike on this one. I’ve been body-shopped around for years, and it seems to benefit the recruiter disproportionately. I haven’t used LinkedIn as a means for acquring work recently, since I’ve finally stopped contracting and taken a full-time position (for over a year now!), but I’d have to think that it’s better than the dating web sites….I mean JOB sites. Ooops.

  5. I believe this post is decidedly one-sided, and think that maybe credit should be given to those recruiters that do things the right way. I am a recruiter in the medical field and have an excellent working relationship with the facilities I represent. It has been my experience that I am in fact more knowledgable about the positions I recruit for than most of the Human Resources staff that the facilities pay to do what I end up doing for them. While it’s true that the further your career goes along, the larger your network can become, what about those that are just starting out? What about those looking to change fields? I have played an intricate part in helping others obtain their first jobs in a career that pays 6 figures on an entry-level basis. I have helped those who have decided to go from one field of the medical world to another make the transition seemlessly.

    While searching for information in support of my chosen field, I am disappointed with the outlook that you’ve given here, and can only assume it is based on overall bad experiences. I would guess that at some point in your illustrious career that you have dealt with someone that fulfills the duties of a “professional” recruiter, and it’s sad to say that you make no mention of the positives that can come from working with a recruiting service.

  6. Hi Steven,

    I had forgotten about this post until I saw your comment come in. It’s been three and a half years so I think an update is in order.

    I still think what I said is true for body/bullpen shops. That being said, I do think that there are recruiters and recruitment firms that do offer a valid and valuable service. I have since had the pleasure of working with a few recruitment companies that do take the time to learn my company’s business and really try to find good fits for my teams. I also am now at a point in my career where I have control over which recruiters I use so that I can avoid working with the ones that I disparage above.

    I’ve also worked with some more professional recruiters from the job seeking standpoint that have had the experience to offer good career and interviewing advice. I was pretty surprised (pleasantly of course) when this happened. It didn’t end up as a good fit in that case but it wasn’t the fault of the recruiter.

    So yes, this original posting was one-sided in a sense and not all firms fall into the above critique. Maybe a better title now would be “Why use a bullpen recruiter?”

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