It used to be, back before MRI started the switch to employer paid fees in 1965, that candidates would pay employment services to help them find a job. That was about the only way that it was done. It might cost as much as 2 months pay for a candidate and it was payable upon acceptance of the job. Since MRI was founded, the entire industry has switched to an employer fee paid recruiting model. This means that job seekers no longer pay employment services, it is the employer who pays the recruiting company. Fees are usually some percentage of the annual salary of the individual that is being hired.
What does this mean for the job seeker? Well, it means that you are no longer the client… you are now the product. The recruiter isn’t being paid by you, he is being paid by the company. The recruiter doesn’t earn money for finding you a job, he earns money for filling an open position with his client company. To some of you, this is a difference that escapes understanding, to others it may seem subtle. In truth, it is a huge difference… one which drives the performance of a recruiter to do some things which are not in your best interest.
“What?” you say. “Did you just say that recruiters do things that are not in my best interest?” you ask. The answer is yes. Recruiters are trying to fill an open position and they will do that with any candidate, not just you. This means that recruiters, especially good ones, will continue to present candidates until the company makes a positive hiring decision. It boils down to this, recruiters will continue to create competition for YOU, they will bring candidates who are trying to get the job that YOU want. So in effect, recruiters are working against your best interest, at times, because they are creating competition for you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.
There is a special relationship that is created between a recruiter and a candidate when they are working together on an engagement. This relationship arises from the fact that the job seeker is really “the product” which the recruiter is selling. If the recruiter’s client ‘buys’ the product, then the recruiter gets paid. Because any good salesman is going to put his product in the best light, a recruiter will, or at least should, work really hard with his candidate once they have identified a reasonable fit for a position that the recruiter is working on. Putting ‘the product’ in the best light is the reason that recruiters provide all kinds of free services to candidates that have real value. Things like resume review, critique, and rewriting; salary negotiation; relocation and demographic studies; interview preparation and guidance are all provided at no charge, because the recruiter wants you to present as well as you possibly can for the position that is open. We have on our site a plethora of free information for candidates on our job seeker tips page.
“So if recruiters do things that aren’t in my best interest, why should I work with them?” you ask. Good question. Recruiters know the hiring company, the ins and outs, they know the culture, they have feedback from interviews where the candidate failed and when other candidates did well. They will use this information to help get you ready to knock ’em dead during your interviews. They will tell you what is going on inside the company to help you better understand the culture and how the position fits into your long term career goals. Recruiters want you to do well during the interview process, they want you to do well enough to get an offer. They will do everything in the power to help make that happen. This is a time when your mutual interests are perfectly aligned, so make sure to take advantage of that fact. Listen to what the recruiter is telling you, it is for both of your sakes.
So now you know, 1) job seekers are actually the product and 2) recruiters work to fill open positions for client companies that will pay them upon candidate acceptance. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work with a recruiter… they can be quite helpful. They can get you into companies where your direct application would be thwarted. They can introduce you to companies where the job opening is not advertised or even publicized within the company. In fact for some positions working with a recruiter is the ONLY way that you can garner an interview. Just remember that working with a recruiter, you need to keep in mind what is in your mutual best interest and concentrate on working from that standpoint. Having a motivated recruiter working with [since they don’t work for] you, can be one of the best and fastest ways to get a job.
-author: Carl Chapman. Carl is the founder of CEC Search – Executive Restaurant Recruiters. He has 20+ years of restaurant industry experience, spent 5 awarding winning years as an executive recruiter with a top 25 MRI franchise office. Carl graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1980.