Demystifying Recruiter Practices

Now that the job market is improving, IT professionals are being contacted by recruiters and noting an increase in agency job postings on Dice. The upswing in activity has spawned a number of questions on the Dice Discussions boards, mostly from novices who are trying to understand the nuances of working with an agency. While each firm may have its own twist on the “rules” and the recruiting process, and clients often dictate specific terms, the practices are fairly similar from one agency to another. So here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Can recruiters submit my resume to an employer without my permission?

They should ask your permission. They want to make sure you’re interested and that you haven’t applied for the job, either on your own or through another firm. If you’re interested in a particular company, you could give the agency the authority to submit your resume without contacting you, but it’s always best to return the recruiter’s call as soon as possible, because he may be competing with another agency and needs to pounce on the opportunity.

If a recruiter submits my resume am I free to apply to other jobs at the company?

Once your resume has been submitted by a recruiter, an employer is contractually bound to hire you through that agency for any position for a specified period of time. These terms and conditions vary, so always ask about possible limitations when a recruiter contacts you about an opening. If you aren’t selected for a job, you can begin applying on your own once the waiting period expires.

If I’ve already applied for a position can a recruiter still submit my resume?

If your resume is in the company’s database, then the employer generally won’t consider the recruiter’s submission. Obviously employer databases are purged from time to time, so let the recruiter know when you applied to see if he’s able to submit your resume.

Does working through a recruiter help or hurt my chances?

It really depends on each situation and the employer’s practices. If the employer is also searching for candidates, it may expect the recruiter to unearth an extraordinary IT professional, or someone who’s currently employed, before agreeing to pay a fee. Some companies outsource the hiring process to agencies, simply because they don’t have enough internal staff to source and screen candidates. Always check the company’s website to see if they are advertising for the position and apply directly if it is posted.

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman