One of the top news stories posted on LinkedIn today was a blog post discussing the benefits of using a recruiter. While I definitely agree that using a recruiter for your job search has its benefits, especially in this economy, I think it should be pointed out that recruiters are just one of the many tools that a job seeker should utilize as they navigate the treacherous waters of the job search.
At home watching TV?
The article opens with the scenario of you being at your desk or at home watching TV. I presume being at your desk means that you are employed, but come on, if you are at home watching TV and you need a job you should be out doing the number one thing that leads to more job opportunities: networking! Waiting on a recruiter to call you is passive job searching at its finest. Networking has been shown to lead to jobs for more than 65 to 75 percent of people that find them.
The post goes on to list 5 benefits to working with a recruiter. I’ll share my take on each one.
Number 1: Hidden Job Market
The author states that “recruiters hold the hidden jewels of the job market…undisclosed jobs.” While it is true that recruiters are given access to fill jobs that will not be found posted anywhere online or in print, the hidden job market can also be uncovered by networking within your personal network. Typically, it won’t be the person in your first level connections that leads you to your next opportunity. It is generally people in your third level that have the authority to hire you. You reach these people by networking. Point is this: while recruiters can have a leg up on unadvertised positions, you do not necessarily need a recruiter to access this hidden network.
Number 2: Connections
The author’s next claim is this: “Recruiters have clout with hiring managers and Sr. level executives – many of us do not.” This is very true. You would expect recruiters to have developed strong relationships with hiring managers and executives, because this supports their livelihood. However, here is the golden rule when working with recruiters: recruiters do not work for you; they work for the company they represent. In other words, their job is to present the company with a few candidates that are considered the best options for the position in question. Because you are not paying them to work for you (never do that by the way) they have no loyalty to any particular candidate.
Number 3: Expertise
The next benefit confused me just a bit. The third benefit of working with a recruiter is that “they can help you find answers and ask questions that will guide you to the right job and the right steps in order to advance your career.” Nothing against recruiters, I have used more than one successfully in my career, but when did they become career coaches? I do not know many recruiters that will spend a lot of time (an hour or more) to provide free career coaching. Surface-level career advice yes, but coaching to help you with strategic career planning or career advancement? Most recruiters I know want you to already have this figured out by the time you visit with them. Disclaimer: I happen to be a professional resume writer and career coach.
Number 4: End Game is the Same
Okay, I am onboard with benefit number 4. I would agree that you and your recruiter will have the same goal…getting you a job…but wait, hold on a minute. You are still responsible for making sure the job you get is in line with your core values and personal goals. How many times have you had a recruiter present an opportunity to you that was either in a location that you did not prefer, in a role that you did not desire, or better yet at a salary that was much lower than your requirements? By the way, the recruiter would know these requirements upfront before any searching begins.
And finally Number 5: Long-Term Ally
This benefit parallels benefit number 3. If recruiters are not making placements, they are not getting paid or at least, not paid much. Unless you are in a situation where you are looking for new employment, I find it hard to believe that recruiters have time to provide career coaching services. Why? Because this takes time away from their revenue-generating tasks of placing candidates and keeping the companies they represent happy. Again, there are people out there that are trained to provide this type of career advice. They are called career coaches and again, I happen to be one.
So, while this blog post has some merits, I do take a few exceptions with some of the reasoning. But decide for yourself. In the end you should own your job search and it is perfectly okay to seek out help.