If you’re a job seeker who has tried unsuccessfully to work with a headhunter, you may find yourself wondering, “What does a recruiter do?” In the simplest terms, I often say that recruiters help companies find employees, they don’t help people find jobs. You may be thinking that’s the same thing, but it’s an important distinction to make because the employer (company) is paying for the recruiter’s services. And ultimately, that means the recruiter is working for the employer. Certainly during the process the recruiter is also talking with various candidates, and if the recruiter is successful, one of those candidates will be hired. But most recruiters, most of the time, are working to fill a specific opening and are only dealing with candidates who are highly qualified for that opening.
When considering what does a recruiter do, it’s helpful to think about hiring activities that originate from the employer side of the equation. This might start with conducting market research to establish a competitive salary range, writing an effective job description, and advertising the position. If it is a new role or a role that requires a unique skill set, the employer may not know an appropriate salary range. They may also need coaching as to the size and location of the available talent pool, which can both impact the salary range (and other details of an offer).
The recruiter will also tap their existing networks to find suitable candidates – which in some ways is the easiest part of a recruiter’s job! Once the candidate is found, she must be qualified for the role AND also convinced to learn more about it. An employed job seeker who isn’t already looking for a new opportunity may need to be sold on the benefits of a new role and why it’s worth considering. A job seeker with a family also needs to have their family on board with the decision. A skilled recruiter does all of these things.
What does a recruiter do for candidates? After getting the candidate excited and interested in the position, the recruiter needs to convince the employer to conduct an interview. The recruiter may need to coach the candidate about what to expect during the interview and how to prepare for it. They’ll also spend time discussing salary and benefits so they can effectively negotiate an offer on the candidate’s behalf. They’ll offer feedback to the candidate about the interview. If an offer is extended, the recruiter is typically involved in the details of the offer as they know both what the employer wants as well as what the candidate wants.
Recruiters can be an excellent resource for job seekers as long as everyone understands their role in the process and who is paying for the recruiter’s services. Job seekers who are looking to change careers may find that a recruiter is not their best option for help.