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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is it a good idea to use recruiters in my job search?

Using recruiters from staffing agencies can be a great resource, with one major drawback and potentially one great advantage. The good ones have met the hiring managers of the companies they represent and can offer some insight into personality types of the hiring manager and team, what works and what doesn't to get love from that company, etc. If you don't know anyone at the company who can give you this type of insight, outside recruiters can be a great way to get it.

The drawback is that their services come at a price to the employer, sometimes up to 25% of your first year compensation. For this reason, if you were to approach the same employer yourself (especially encouraged if a willingness to cold call and/or "sell" yourself are core competencies of the job you seek) you'll be more appealing than if a recruiter were to present you. It's also much smarter to apply for a position before the hiring manager has gotten so desperate for talent that they're willing to pay a premium for it.

The potential advantage of going through a recruiter is if the company only staffs certain positions through a particular staffing firm. I've been in this role myself as an agency recruiter where if someone wanted a particular job at a certain company, they'd have to impress me to even get consideration because the hiring managers didn't have time to post ads, wade through resumes, etc. Even so, if you landed on the hiring manager's doorstep without representation, and before she got so desperate for talent that the recruiter's fee was worth it, you'd be 25% less expensive.

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