A Job-Seekers Guide to Interviewing with Recruiters
You’ve probably heard of “headhunters”, “recruiters”, and “search firms” by now. If you are new to the job market or a veteran looking to make a move to a new organization, you should know the distinctions between these types of firms. Typically, they are third-party organizations that help individuals find temporary and direct hire jobs. Here’s how it’s broken down:
- Contract Recruiters: Typically, an employer will hire recruiters from a contract staffing firm to represent them in the recruiting and employment function. The recruiters have an arrangement with the organization to “place” contract workers at the customer site for a period of time, sometimes ranging from as short as a few weeks to longer periods, in some cases a year or more. This might be important information for someone applying for a contract position at a company.
- Employment Agencies: Employment agencies work with companies that seek to hire professionals. The employment agencies submit resumes of qualified candidates to the companies, which interview the candidates and ultimately pay a fee to the employment agency if a selected candidate is “placed.” In most cases, the placement fee is paid by the company (client) working with the employment agency. In very rare cases, the candidate pays a fee to the employment agency to be placed at an organization. If you come across a job listing that does not include the phrase “fee paid”, be sure to ask who pays the fee before signing any papers. The types of positions that you might see a candidate paying a fee to an agency is retail sales, customer service representative, or a laborer position. These specific types of agencies can be found throughout the country.
- Resume Referral Firms: A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers and forwards it to prospective employers. This information can be contained in resumes or on paper or electronic data forms. The employer, job seeker, or both might pay fees. You must give the firm written permission to pass your resume on to employers. Your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the information can be used.
- Contingent Search Firms: A search firm contracts with employers to find and screen qualified applicants to fill a specific position. Contingent Search firm representatives will disclose to the candidate which employer they represent in the interview qualifying process. The fees for these firms are paid by the employer. The fee charged is either a flat fee equivalent to 20% to 30% of the candidate’s first year salary, or an hourly fee paid to the search firm to locate a qualified candidate.
Questions to Ask a Recruiter
Here’s where you need to be a wise consumer. While third-party recruiters exist to help you in your job search, read all materials carefully before signing anything.
Here are some general questions you may want to ask:
- How many job openings are there for someone in my field? If you have the opportunity, inquire about the positions being filled or the number of openings related to your field. These are important questions because, in some instances, recruiters may not really have the type or number of openings they advertise. They may be more interested in adding your name to their candidate pool as a means of attracting more employers or clients to their services. Or they may be collecting resumes for future job opportunities.
- How is this information being used? A third-party recruiter is legally allowed (with your permission of course) to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else. You may choose to authorize the recruiter to share your data elsewhere, but your authorization should be given to the recruiter in writing.
- Are candidates treated equally and fairly? If you are qualified for the job opportunity (after an interview screening of course), the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Who pays the placement services fee? Before you agree to anything or sign a contract, ask the recruiter who will pay the fee. He/she will normally tell you upfront who the fee is paid by, but you must ask anyway to be clear.