Recruiter Misconceptions, Part 1

Job Search


Last week I got an email from a job seeker. She said she had been unemployed for 11 months and went on to say “Ihired an executive search firm in month three with the understanding they would fully market me so I’d have a job in three months.” In this article, I want to point out three misconceptions/fallacies in her statement so that you do not fall prey to them in your current or future job searches.

First, let’s examine the statement “I hired an executive search firm”. Employers hire executive search firms to find them people, not the other way around. It is illegal in many circumstances for a search (recruiting) firm to take money from a job seeker, which leads me to my first point: this job seeker is 11 months into her job search and has paid this company money, yet she still doesn’t understand that the company is not a search firm. They appear to be what I refer to in Chapter 11 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!) as a Career Marketing firm. Unlike recruiters,

Career marketing companies are businesses that provide fee-based services to individuals seeking to improve their careers.

In the rare case where a firm does recruiting for employers as well as providing job search support for individuals (this didn’t appear to be the case in her situation), they should tell the job seeker this in the first conversation. The bottom line is that recruiters don’t work for job seekers and, in almost all cases, they do not help them get jobs.

Next, let’s examine “with the understanding they would fully market me.” For the most part, recruiters do not market candidates. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but most of the time they secure job orders to fill and then they hunt down (search for) candidates that fit the job order requirements… not the other way around.

In those rare instances when recruiters DO market candidates, trust me when I tell you that saying they will “fully market” a job seeker is a big overstatement. Why? Because recruiters are taught in their training (I know because I have been through it) to market candidates as a way of getting the attention of companies that have potential to become clients. Once they start talking with the company and find out that the candidate is not quite what the company wants, which is generally the case, they will drop the candidate like a hot potato and start hunting for a candidate that fits what the hiring manager wants to hire. In effect, they use the marketing of most candidates as “bait”, a conversation starter. There are exceptions to this, but not very many.

Finally, let’s examine the end of her statement, that “I’d have a job in three months.” No reputable company can honestly promise people they will have a job in a certain period of time… three months, six months, twelve months, or whatever. A recruiter will not make this type of claim. If a career marketing firm makes such a claim, it is typically used to sway the job seeker to pay them money.

So, what we have is three misconceptions… all in one sentence. Which brings me to the bigger concept that job seekers need to hear, even though they may not want to hear it: for the most part, job seekers are ignorant of how the current job market works and thus susceptible to false claims that can cost them money and false information that can delay their progress. Like everyone on earth, including me, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Forewarned is forearmed. I hope this information will help you more effectively guide your actions, improve your career results, and sensitize you to the need to become a more informed job seeker.