Should you use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help find a job?

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Question: “Should I use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help me find a job?

Answer: Yes, and No.

The first thing you need to understand about a recruiter is that they do not work for you. They work for whatever company pays them.

In other words, they only get paid if the candidate they send to the company actually gets hired. There are several problems this causes you as the candidate.

1) Since a company only pays if they hire someone, they can afford to be extremely picky with what candidates are presented to them, even if their expectations are totally unrealistic (and as a former HR professional I can tell you, they often are).  The company is only going to pick the ones that are the absolute best of the best, the closet to what their fantasy of a perfect candidate is  EVEN if that is unrealistic.

2) It is in the best interests of the RECRUITER (but not you as the candidate) to present the candidates they think the company will most likely choose, so that they are the ones that win the business and get paid, not their competitor. In other words, they often get little reward for taking a risk on someone who is not absolutely PERFECT.

That said, there are potential benefits to working with a recruiter.

1) You should approach them because they often have an extensive list of contacts and relationships that they have built with hiring managers/companies.  By approaching them, you are accessing their own network and thus you are potentially increasing the number of hiring managers who will see your resume. The more hiring managers who see your resume, then statistically, the greater the chance you will find an employer that thinks they can use your skills and experience.

2) Some recruiters thrive off of marketing imperfect candidates, and everyone is imperfect. They feel they can sell someone to a company that may be reluctant to take that chance at first.  In this way, they are taking a greater risk, but also may be getting a bigger reward since most recruiters are not doing it. For this reason, it never hurts to approach a recruiter.

Tips on working with recruiters:

1) Keep your expectations low, you cannot rely on them to find you a job.

2) It is beneficial and recommended to approach several. There is nothing unethical about this. Keep in mind, they do not owe you anything, and thus you don’t owe them anything either (beyond basic professional courtesy).

3) Be proactive. Check in the recruiter every 1-2 weeks. Don’t overwhelm them, but do follow up. If they have a website and you see a job that interests you, ask them about it.

4) The real key is to not overwhelm them with phone calls or e-mails. Every few days to 1 week apart between communications is basic business etiquette. This gives people time to respond.

In summary, yes, work with recruiters, but remember, they don’t work for you and thus you need to have realistic expectations, and also be proactive and aggressive with them, but in the bounds of professional communications etiquette.