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What Candidates Should Know About Working with a Recruiting Agency

By Tom Verzuh

What should candidates be aware of when working with a recruiting agency?

Unfortunately, job seekers have many misconceptions and false expectations about recruiting agencies. Companies hire recruiting agencies. That means that recruiters work for the client company and their main obligation is to find an employee for the company, not to find a job for a candidate.

Obviously, candidates are an important part of the equation. When recruiters meet a candidate who is truly outstanding, has marketable skills, is open to factors that make it easy to find them a job such as relocation, realistic salary expectations and have legitimate reasons for leaving their former company, then it's a win-win situation for everyone.

Money Issues
According to the laws of most states, recruiters cannot accept money from a candidate, since they are working for and accepting money from the client company. Potentially, that could be a conflict of interest. If you want to hire a company that will work for you and find you a job, then you should go to an employment agency or outplacement service. Depending on the type of company, they will either accept payment from a candidate once a job is found or assist them in a job search.

Keep it Confidential
The search for the right candidate is confidential for a number of reasons. Often, a company approaches a recruiter to replace an existing employee. Also, some companies might not want it known in the marketplace that they are looking. A big problem for recruiters is when someone hears about the job through the grapevine and applies for the job, bypassing the recruiter. In many cases, if they get the job, the recruiter won't be paid.

When the recruiter finally reveals the name of the company, treat it with the utmost confidence. Once you breach that confidence, the recruiter will not work with you again.

Candidates require confidentiality too. Pick a good recruiting firm that will treat your information confidentially. Regrettably, some recruiters will take your resume and broadcast fax it without telling you. What if you are still employed and want to keep the information confidential? What if the resume is faxed to your employer? Do you really want the personal information on your resume in so many hands?

The recruiter should ask your permission before sending out your resume. Otherwise a company may receive an outdated resume or may call a candidate who is not expecting the call or even prepared.

Recruiters Target Specific Industries
Recruiters work in very specific industries. Within the recruiter's specific industry, they will place quite a few different types of positions ranging from sales to executive management.

But most recruiters are not going to place a candidate outside of the candidate's expertise. If a candidate's skill set is outside of that industry, the recruiter won't be able to help. Client companies are not using the recruiter to simply find a great salesperson. They want a great salesperson that has industry knowledge and can hit the ground running.

Be Realistic
Don't expect recruiters to find you a job, especially if you have unrealistic expectations. If you've been in sales for five years and are making $75,000, don't expect the recruiter to find you a job in management for $150,000. Unless you have experience in management, most companies won't take the gamble.

Don't Be Too Aggressive
Some candidates call two to three times a day and argue with the recruiter over whether they are qualified for a specific job. If a candidate is that aggressive to the point of being obnoxious, the immediate reaction of the recruiter is that the candidate is not going to be manageable in the job.

Be Honest
Candidates should also be extremely open, honest and committed to their recruiter if they want the recruiter to work for them. If the recruiter knows your requirements as well as what the company is looking for there is a good chance you should be able to take the job. If you're not interested in the job, just say so. Analyze why you're looking and what you want well before any interview.

Look to recruiters to see what current positions the recruiter is working on, or simply to get in their database for future consideration on new searches. Select only one or two quality recruiting firms and work closely with them. More is not always better, the more recruiting firms you are working with, and the less each one is going to be willing to promote you.

Let the Recruiter Help
Allow the recruiting agency to help you with the whole interview process including preparing for the interview and negotiating your salary. A good recruiting firm can ask the employer things you might not want to ask. They can look for problems areas that you may not see. Use them as your sounding board. Take advantage of their experience and knowledge.

Tom Verzuh is president of SCW Consulting, Inc. An industry veteran for over 15 years, he has worked for some of the major CCTV and Access Control manufacturing companies in the Physical Security Industry. SCW Consulting, Inc. recruits and places candidates for mid to senior level positions within companies, both nationally and internationally.

Tom may be reached at 720-542-0500 ext. 12 or by e-mail at