How to Get Along With Recruiters

Childhood Friends

Conflict may seem inevitable if you use a third-party recruiter to find work. When disagreements arise you can walk away, acquiesce, or use these techniques to resolve your differences.

Childhood FriendsEstablish the Ground Rules

You’re less likely to hit an impasse if you discuss the rules of engagement before entering into a relationship with a recruiting firm. In assessing the fit, consider their selection process, reputation, employment agreements and how they match and submit candidates to job orders.

If you object to a policy or procedure, test the recruiter’s autonomy and flexibility by requesting an amendment or change. Since you only need one or two fruitful alliances to find full-time or contract work, cut your losses and move on if you don’t like the recruiter or the firm’s policies.

Explore the Issues

There could be a perfectly good reason why a recruiter needs to check your references before submitting your resume to an IT manager. But you won’t know whether it’s a legitimate request or a ploy to see your contacts unless you ask. In fact, conflict-resolution experts claim that understanding the reasons behind a disagreement is key to its resolution.

For example, ask why you need to commit to an hourly rate before you can meet with the IT manager. The recruiter may give you a pass if you explain that interviews provide an opportunity to “sharpen your pencil” by shedding light on the scope of work and expectations. Or, you may decline the opportunity if the recruiter is required to quote an hourly rate when submitting candidates to a particular client.

Propose Solutions and Compromise

Once both parties’ motives are clear, take the lead by proposing a compromise or other solution. The recruiter may be open to your suggestion as long as everyone benefits. He or she has the authority and motivation to approve the change, and you return the favor. Remember, recruiters generally look for professionals to fill open requisitions and ongoing needs for large clients, so they tend to be more flexible with those candidates.

For example, if the recruiter insists on meeting you in person, ask if you can use Skype or meet at a halfway point for coffee. Or, bend your rules by committing to an hourly rate before an interview just to see how it goes.

Finally, be realistic. If every recruiter in town balks at your requests, you need to reassess your priorities or find employment on your own.


12 Responses to “How to Get Along With Recruiters”

March 01, 2013 at 10:10 am, Amy said:

I wish this blog post went deeper into relationships with recruiters. The article here doesn’t really address relationships; it addresses two points out of a more complex process.

As a job seeker, working with a recruiter, understand the process and ask the recruiter questions about their relationship with the hiring company. A recruiter might not want to reveal the hiring company name to you for a huge reason – they don’t want you to go directly to the company website and apply or send your resume to someone in the company. Third party recruiters and staffing agencies make a % or flat rate when their prospect is hired. Candidates do apply to the positions on their after speaking to recruiters and this is a very bad way to establish a relationship. You are potentially costing the recruiter/agency $25K +. I have a “no” file with a list of candidates I’ve worked with who applied to the position on their own or sought someone in a company after speaking to me about the position. I will not work with these individuals again.

The article above didn’t transition well into discussing references and why checking references has an impact on a candidate-recruiter relationship. As a job seeker, you can Google the laws in your state. In some states, the person who is checking your references is required by law to acquire your approval in writing to check your references. You don’t want anyone checking your references without your permission – this is a huge reason why you shouldn’t add a reference list to your resume. Especially a posted resume.

The candidate-recruiter relationship is complicated since everyone involved is typically speaking to other parties – recruiters are looking for a few candidates to submit to the hiring company and job seekers are usually working with a few recruiters. There can be a recruiter-recruiter war if two recruiters submit the same candidate to the same hiring company. This happens in niche markets and will cost one of the recruiters/agencies a huge commission.


March 07, 2013 at 1:57 pm, 2FLY4U said:

Seriously, a no fly list? So what your saying basically is that you are in fact a recruiter who keeps a black list. No wonder people cannot get jobs. If you really think that is helping you or anyone else, you need to a take a good long hard look at yourself in the mirror and please go find another job. That is a major disservice to both your company and the general public in which it is suppose to serve.

The whole idea of a recruiter war is simply laugh out loud funny, this ONLY happens when you have a highly prized candidate who already has inside contacts in both companies and has already milked the recruiters for all their worth. This candidate is usually someone who has the competition of only one other individual in their field hence the niche market. Everything is always slanted in favor of the recruiter, they hold all the cards and secrets and almost never share any of that information as you clearly pointed out.


March 07, 2013 at 7:32 pm, Amy said:

It is funny to me that you are telling me to find a new position. I am a good recruiter and any candidate that I’ve ever helped will tell you that I go above and beyond most recruiters. I am not deceptive and I work for my clients and I help candidates when I can.

In my post above, I was talking about third party and agency recruiters. They are usually commission based. Do you go to the automechanic down the street, let him/her take time to diagnose your problem, don’t hire them, and then use their diagnosis to fix the problem yourself? If they know you are doing this, do you think they are going to diagnose your car for free again?

Don’t use a recruiter to find who the hiring company is and then go to another recruiter and/or submit your resume on your own. If the recruiter found you or you found them, then stick with that person. When you deal with multiple recruiters, it can lead to a recruiter-to-recruiter war. As a recruiter, I will put you on the “no” list for being deceptive. Because I’m not deceptive.

If a company hires me to take care of their hiring, either on-site or through an agency, it is my responsibility to provide them with excellent service. That means that I am the point of contact for their position(s). They hire someone so their managers don’t have to take the time looking at resumes and filtering through candidates. I take time with candidates and I explain the company to them, salary, the hiring process, etc., and if a candidate contacts 2-3+ people in the company, after talking to me, I consider that a red flag. Plus, it makes a candidate look desparate.


March 07, 2013 at 11:13 pm, 2FLY4U said:

People do get free auto troubleshooting and diagnosis all of the time. Here in the states we call it AutoZone. Next time you have car trouble, give them a try.

Why shouldn’t a candidate go directly to the source if they figure that out from a recruiter? Why shouldn’t a candidate have every possible advantage in a world that is looking for every excuse not to hire you? If the shoe was on the other foot, you bet your bottom dollar everything would be done possible to get the most bang for the corporate buck. That’s capitalism at its finest. I don’t see how that is being deceptive at all, in fact all the hush hush from the recruiter realm is far more deceptive. The real answer here is obvious, which is simply get rid of the middleman, and offer real full disclosure. Who ever sold the idea that you should get a 3rd party organization to do YOUR hiring for YOUR business was an economic genius, and dealt a real blow to civil liberties and consumer rights.

99.9% of people applying for jobs today are desperate, homeless and hungry desperate — they are just not telling you. Any means they use to obtain employment that does not directly harm another human being is fair game. A candidate contacting inside people is not a red flag, and not everyone is a conspiring against you. Please do not delude yourself into thinking you are in fact helping people earn gainful employment, but rather serving as the gatekeeper to someone else’s nightclub running on high school popularity contest rules and you are not allowing in any ugly people err….inexperienced people.


March 01, 2013 at 11:21 am, Terre Rigali said:

I am a Technical Recruiter who works a bit differently than outlined above. I am focused with each candidate on finding the right fit, and if the position for which I contacted them is not of interest I will keep looking.

My biggest disagreement with the article is the rate portion. I am committed to doing the best I possibly can for the people I represent, but I also have a commitment to our clients and to the hiring managers. Knowing your comfort zone on rate is something everyone should know. If it is a consultant or contract position, each hiring manager has a specific budget. If someone wants more than the hiring manager’s budget, we keep looking. Most permanent positions have a range and the organization will dictate the salary at the time of offer. But knowing someone is comfortable within that range is imperative. One of the WORST scenarios is going through an entire interview process, investing time, receiving an offer for your candidate and having the candidate decide they need significantly more than they originally quoted. I see that as bait and switch tactics. “Now that you want me my rate is X dollars more.” You are going to have a very unhappy client.

I think honesty and integrity wins out every time.


March 07, 2013 at 1:58 pm, 2FLY4U said:

I couldn’t disagree more, if you think honestly and integrity win out every time you will find yourself severely disappointed and depressed in life and very angry at your deity as all those who lie, cheat, and steal get further ahead in life.
As far as the bait and switch, it works both ways. I have personally been on the end of recruiter bait and switch. After spending hours on the phone and emailing people back and forth I find out that the job only pays $12/hour. See dice article:
If a hiring manager really wanted to hire a potential candidate, they would have no problems adjusting salary compensation and be reasonable in their salary offer in the first place. After-all, dealing with a recruiter is a two way learning street; many important details don’t generally arise til after several discussions. Personally, I think salary should be the last thing discussed, and only if the hiring manager actually wants to hire this person. Discussing salary right off the bat, only gives reason to dismiss potentially the best employee you could have had.


March 07, 2013 at 7:37 pm, Amy said:

2FLY4U you are showing that you are naive to hiring. Large companies, especially Fortune 500 companies, have pay grades. A manager can’t just go beyond the pay grade because they have an outstanding candidate. Going beyond the pay grade disrupts the entire pay structure for the entire organization. In addition, when pay grades are involved, the manager will offer 80-90% of the pay grades mid point. They might go 10% over the mid point for an exceptional candidate. The candidate has to have room to grow in the pay grade.


March 07, 2013 at 11:03 pm, 2FLY4U said:

I’m well aware of the immoral practice of pay grading. I find it disturbing that you actually think it works that way. A manager or even their manager can go beyond pay grades, and it happens all of the time just not so much in recent times thanks to the economy. I’ve witnessed the back alley deals myself. If a candidate is well connected there is no limit to this, and you are absolutely correct in the fact that it disrupts the entire pay structure. This is why pay grades are so low to begin with, all those near the heart of the social network in an organization gain the most leaving little left for everyone else. In today’s fast paced world by the time there is room to grow, everyone has already moved on and that point becomes moot.


March 04, 2013 at 5:18 am, Lester Jensen said:

I have found great employment both directly and using professional placement/recruiters. I like the “I think honesty and integrity wins out every time” line in the previous post. With that in mind on what basis can a “candidate” make a hourly rate commitment when they don’t have a clear picture on the entire compensation package in context with the level of effort required? Let’s say I said my rate must be at least $50/hr. That would be dumb. Without ever knowing it the bonus plan, stock options, 401K, and life insurance vaporize and they can offer $52/hour which is suppose to look like a good deal. It’s the old car salesman trick of how much can you pay/month? Then they manipulate the number of months, down payment/trade-in and interest rates so that the car you want comes-in $10/month less than your monthly budget number so that you can drive the shinny one home tonight. So, how about going with full transparency: what are the job responsibilities and the full compensation package including salary range? If I know my qualifications and experience will allow me to make a high seas carrier landing on the first pass then I will ask for the full compensation with top salary. If I know my strengths exceed most of your requirements but that I’ll have to be a quick study to close the gap on a couple of areas then I’ll realistically dial-back down from the top of the salary range with room for advancement as I grow. I’m not focused on just getting in the door – I want a long term mutually beneficial working relationship where I produce quality results and am fairly compensated.


March 08, 2013 at 9:50 am, Amy said:

2FLY4U such an example of how not to get along with a recruiter. Keep up the attitude, you are a good reminder to recruiters that there are deceptive job seekers and to stay guarded – you are part of the problem that you are complaining about.


March 08, 2013 at 7:04 pm, 2FLY4U said:

I would gladly wear that badge with honor and pride if you would admit to spending your workday red-flagging and black-listing potential employees, even though you kinda already did. I want to be wrong, but unfortunately the millions unemployed speaks for itself. What you call deception, I call survival. I admit that I am deeply cynical, and enjoy playing the devil’s advocate but my provocation is not without reason. My hope is to incite an actual response, a truthful response however adverse that may be. Anything that might give a candidate a glimpse into the belly of the beast that stands between the food on the table and going hungry or without a roof over ones head.
There is a disease spreading like wildfire through the economic veins of this country. Leeches and parasites feeding off of the unemployed and disenfranchised, robbing businesses of both real talent and real money; and bleeding the american economy dry. Unemployment is not a cause of this disease, but rather a symptom. The recruiting industry stands at the front lines of this battlefield and you are but the replaceable grunt on the front lines. It all starts with you, even though you are but just the first cog in a vast money-well that only benefits a select few and slowly strangles the american workforce. You can make that difference, only you.
The best thing that could happen is that every single recruiter realizes their role as a destructive force in this economy and simply gets up and walks out the door. No more recruiters, no more problems and everything can go back to the way it was when people could obtain work.
I’ve been through this thousands of times, and now I know that I am probably in every single recruiting company in the US blacklist database. Thanks to recruiters I’ve gone from unemployed to unemployable. If I have to go through another set of interrogations from recruiters I am going to scream, I cannot keep opening up old wounds for your sake. I am done with recruiters and will no longer even answer the phone if one calls. Much like when Harry met Sally, I don’t see us ever getting along.


June 09, 2017 at 11:35 am, Andrew said:

I’m a consultant and have been running a consulting corporation for 10 years now. Prior to that I did 1099 and W2 consulting for quite some time, on and off. I’ve also had permanent positions, one for 10 years. Suffice to say I have a lot of experience getting jobs and using recruiters.

I realized long ago (at least 15 years ago) that working W2 was stupid. I looked back at my W2 contracts of the past and realized that I have not once ever been placed a second time by the same consulting firm/recruiter who placed me in a W2 contract. Oh I’ve gotten extended a few times but when the gig was up I was out on my ass. Oh the current recruiter said they they’d look for another position for me and I’m sure they had economic incentive to do so. However I’ve never had one of them place me a second time. In fact, I’ve never had one of them place me a second time ever – not consecutively nor years later. So now you have to transfer things like 401K’s (if even offered) to the next place, etc. What’s the point? Beside you can make more as a corp.

And to that same degree, Amy, you and many others warn people about “establishing a good relationship with the recruiter” etc. Exactly what is the point of that? One would naturally think “well because next time you deal with the recruiter you’ll have a good relationship already established instead of a bad one”. I ask you, exactly what odds do you have of that happening? Most likely the next time you’re looking for an assignment (something I as a consultant do much more frequently than your average Joe looking for a permanent position) I won’t be dealing with you again. In fact, given the turn over rates of some recruiting firms, chances are you won’t even be working there. Plus there are ton of recruiters out there just like as the other responder pointed out, there are tons of Auto Zones out there who will service me if you don’t want to.

This is not to say that I go behind recruiter’s backs and go to the company’s careers page instead. In my case this is usually because companies rarely have career pages looking for consultants – only perm people. And I find the practice unethical anyway. A good recruiter will go through the drudgery to get you through the process and that’s worth them getting their fee.

And yes I maintain blacklists too. The number of offshore rinky dink, fly by night recruiting firms and recruiters who don’t know anything about how to be a good recruiter have been growing exponentially! You know them. They typically have Indian accents. They know nothing about technology and bring you jobs that they haven’t lifted a finger to qualify you for. They’re slinging mud against the wall to see what sticks. They’ll call you but you can’t call them because their “Magic Jack” thingy doesn’t take incoming calls or you must know their extension number, which they didn’t tell you. They’ll call but now leave a message. They don’t know how to speak or understand English and it’s painful to talk to them. You’ll ask them questions and they will ignore the question. They will then say “Hello” several times faking a bad connection (or actually having a terrible connection” then they will HANG UP ON YOU!!! I wonder where in their business manual it says that it’s a good business practice to hang up on your clients?

Such people will never EVER do me any good so yes, I black list them too. My time is valuable and you’re wasting it.

They say you shouldn’t burn bridges but that’s only true if you ever intend to use that bridge again. Often the “bridges” are just logs that fell over the river and they should be burned to increase the flow of the river!


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