The three-headed watchdog for the afterlife, Cerberus, guarded the entrance to Hades. The mythical creature ensured no one entered who wasn’t qualified to do so. He assisted the god of the underworld, not the poor souls who passed by. Just the same, recruiters serve as guardians to the gates of employment. They allow those through the hiring process doors who meet the requirements and keep out those who don’t. They don’t work for those who come to the doors, they work for those behind the doors. 

Recruiters, headhunters, scouts, any way you put it, they look for the best candidates. But they do not work for the candidates. They are employed by organizations to help fill open positions. They use online resume postings to help find that ideal candidate for the spot; they actively seek out potential employees. According to, the definition of a recruiter is:

“An individual who works to fill job openings in businesses or organizations. Recruiters will work from resumes or by actively soliciting individuals qualified for positions. A recruiter’s job includes reviewing candidates’ job experiences, negotiating salaries, and placing candidates in agreeable employment positions. Recruiters typically receive a fee from the hiring employers.”

Nowhere in that definition does it say recruiters are at the service of candidates. That’s simply because they aren’t. This isn’t to say they don’t work with candidates to find the right position; but if they don’t fit the job description, they simply don’t fit. 

Recruiter Jim Giammatteo says, “The recruiter’s aim is to successfully fill a position, and in the cold light of day, you are just another step in that process.” The talent acquisition statistics are for the benefit of the recruiters, not the candidates.

It is a misconception that employer scouts and the tools they use to aid them in the hiring process are to work for the benefit of the candidate.Applicant Tracking Systems work at the beck and call of the recruiter who uses them. So when did it become common belief in all of the articles about recruiters and ATS that they service the jobseekers? Try typing in “Applicant Tracking System” into Google… the first page of results tell candidates how to write it so their resumes aren’t removed from the talent pool before it sees human eyes. Many jobseekers follow these misconceptions:

1.    LinkedIn connections are just as good as a traditional resume.

While there are 300 million LinkedIn users, that doesn’t mean candidates should expect to be contacted by a potential employer. These connections on LinkedIn are great fodder for professional connections, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to employment. Recruiters and employers are more likely to respond if there is an actual connection, not one founded on the intangible nature of the internet.

2.    General applications sent to recruiters will land candidates a job.

Simplicity might be beautiful, but generalities in applications won’t land you jobs. ATS match keywords and key phrases from candidate resumes to the job description; so the more general the resume, the less likely the job offer. 

3.    Recruiters are drawn to aesthetically pleasing resumes.

Most recruiters use an Applicant Tracking System, so the pictures, fancy borders, and intricate font won’t even make it to the hiring manager. Companies like Starbucks for example, use their ATS as a means of resume regulation. Because they received 7.6 million applications in one year, they required a system to track qualified and unqualified candidates. Truth is, the ATS probably scans resumes more thoroughly than the recruiter would anyway. A study by TheLadders discovered that recruiters only spend a total of 6 second reading a resume. The most important thing on that document? A candidate’s current position and title.

Cerberus kept the gates to the underworld; recruiters keep the gates to employment. So, while it never hurts to make LinkedIn connections and keep social media profiles tasteful, chances are hiring managers from large companies won’t be the ones initiating the hiring process.

Check out or main blog here.

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