Recruiters come in many different styles. The first distinction is that some are in-house, and some are consultants. The consultants breakdown into retained search (guaranteed fee up front – maybe with a bonus on placement), and contingency search (paid when/if their candidate is hired, usually a percentage of the starting salary). But in all of those cases, the candidate is the product; the candidate is not the client, not the customer, not the decision-maker. Understand that fact.
The recruiter may help you, or coach you, or polish you up because they like you, because they are nice, or because it helps them sell you, preferably at a higher price. But they don’t do it because they have any obligation to you. It is either a gift, or it is a collateral benefit you receive because of something else they are doing. And don’t see yourself as the only product.
The recruiter who authored the article below points out bluntly:
“YOUR idea of “A” candidate and my idea of “A” candidate may be vastly different. I only represent the best of the best, the top 2%, and they aren’t out applying to your online job postings. They are gainfully employed at “A” companies with outstanding pedigrees that other “A” companies salivate over.”
Note that this author/recruiter makes no value judgments about why “A” candidates are “gainfully employed” and why “B” candidates are not. ‘Why’ doesn’t matter to him. Consider two identical i-Phones except one is a rarer color more in demand than the other. The more common one functions just as well. But that doesn’t matter to the reseller on Amazon. The rarer, more popular one brings the higher price. And so it gets sold for a higher price. Why one set of internal parts on the same assembly line got clad with a different color casement doesn’t matter to the reseller. He is not going to sell the more typical i-Phone at the same higher price as he will sell the rarer, more in demand one.
Likewise, why you are not currently gainfully employed really doesn’t matter to the recruiter. It’s your color, and it sets your price. And the reseller will always want to sell the higher priced products most; and will always take more time and effort to advertise them, to get them better portrayed in pictures, etc.
Should you beat your head against this brick wall of a system? You might be surprised to hear me say “Yes.” Yes, but with some caveats. The first caveat is ‘perhaps not today.’ If you are unemployed, under-employed, uncomfortably employed, or unhappily employed, you need to be self-centered for a while and get your employment situation corrected before focusing on changing this system.
For the second caveat I would offer that instead of beating your head against the brick wall, you should use your head against the brick wall. I remember a Bob Dylan quote “you say t’ meet bricks with bricks; i say t’ meet bricks with chalk.” I interpret this to mean instead of meeting hostility with hostility, meet hostility with reason (write on the brick wall – don’t throw more bricks).
I wouldn’t go so far as to call the system hostile, but I would characterize it as callous. So I say, let’s meet that callousness with reason. You’ve probably seen other posts I’ve made about the advantages of hiring the unemployed. For some recruiters, some organizations, that’s the “A” candidate, not the presumption that the current hiring system is built around. We need a more adaptive, less rigid system, that connects more candidates with openings that they can fill effectively.
As a candidate, if you are unemployed, your most likely point of success is not with consulting recruiters, but rather with in-house recruiters who actually don’t want the highest priced qualified candidate, they want the qualified candidate that is quickest to hire. Be that candidate and sell that attribute.