Urban Legends about Recruiters / Myths

I've been a recruiter for 12 years and still every day, I come across people who have no idea what I do for a living.  They simply don't understand the concept of a recruiter.  As if that isn't enough, there is tons of misinformation out there about who we are and how we earn a living.  I hope this clarifies it for the general public.  To me, this is a PSA. :)

#1 - Giving someone the title, makes it so.  

Just because you call your Honda a Ferrari doesn't make it so, likewise, just giving a glorified title to someone who doesn't understand the responsibilities of the role, isn't appropriate either.  Pay them $8 p/hr and advertise that you're looking for someone to make job postings, sift through resumes and pass them to the hiring manager, answer phone calls, emails, make coffee, and wash the car.  The job posting will read "looking for an experienced hard working recruiter".  

Truth: There is no licensing requirement (although I think there should be) to become a recruiter.  Although a Bachelor's Degree is often preferred, it's not necessary.  Also, someone can be called a recruiter whether they are just beginning or they have 15 years of experience.  However, you have to know that the less experience they have the less representative that individual is going to be about the core of the profession.

#2 - Recruiters are overpaid and make way too much money on commissions.

First of all, recruiting isn't a charity or a non-profit endeavor.  Some of us have bills to pay and yes, we actually want to get paid for our work.  So do you don't you?  It's a for profit business enterprise.  Why do people have a problem with that when they're willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee that cost that corporation 20 cents to make?  

My Financial Planner asked me a poignant question one time "what is your most valuable asset?"  I answered, "my home".  He said that's what most people think but its you.  You earn money so that you can live in that home.  You are important to your wife and family  Without you, there is nothing.  Why wouldn't you protect yourself and your most valuable asset by investing in insurance and other financial tools that protect you in case something happens to your most valuable asset?  He continued on.... "I mean you have car insurance and home owner's right?"  

The point is, think about the recruiter who just got you a 15% pay raise at a better company that's at half the commuting distance from where you were.  How much is that worth?  Keep in mind he/she just worked his ass off for free.  He's hoping for a commission so he can get paid on the work.  Not to mention, you're not even the one paying the bill, Hello!  Most people have no concept of how hard it is to work on commission.  It's all risk and no safety net.  This recruiter just convinced the client that you were worth talking to and that you were better than all the others out there.  He represented to the client that you were more than what was written on paper and likely even helped make you feel at ease for the interview by giving you some valuable insight into what's going on over there so that you could nail the interview and get the offer.  It takes so much dedication, research, hand holding, expectations management, communication and a service oriented attitude that there should be a Congressional medal for recruiters. :)  

On the client side, how much money did we save you from investing in Applicant Tracking Systems, time that it would have taken to ramp up an internal department, and the fast turn around on the actual hire so that you could get your product to market sooner and begin benefitting from the work done by this new employee?  You didn't even know this person was out there in the abyss of the internet and general market.  This person may not have even been actively looking!  Do we really get paid too much to solve your most important problems and identifying killer rock stars who boost your business to the next level?

Truth: Most recruiters in the LA area make at par with counterparts in similar corporate or sales positions.  Meaning, a generalist recruiter with 7 years of experience makes about the same as a Financial Analyst, HR generalist, or Accounting Supervisor at the same company.  An IT Recruiter with 7 years of senior level experience makes a little less than his programmer counterparts at his level of experience but its not terribly far off.  On the sales side, they earn as much as their performance allows.

#3 - The candidate could have gotten a higher salary if it weren't for the recruiter fee.  

Not true.  Three major factors determine the salary.  1) Market.  2) Internal equity of the company.  3) Your fit and experience.  They aren't going to pay you more than your boss or more than what others are earning in your field just because your ego says you deserve it.  They aren't going to pay you more than you're worth to the company in terms of money going out and the profits expected to be generated from your work.  They are, however, going to pay you what they can based on what the company sees is fair based on their specific need and your ability to fit within that framework.  Often times this is a combination of skill set as well as cultural personality fit with their chemistry of personalities and methodologies.

Look, employers know they have to pay legal fees when they hire a lawyer, does that effect marketing budgets?  They have to pay the electric bill, does that have an impact on benefits?  Why do you think a recruiter fee has an impact on your salary?  That makes no sense.  They aren't going to pay you more than market anyway and if they paid you less, how are they ever going to hire anybody qualified to do the job?  Think about it from a common sense perspective.

#4 - Shot gunning your resume to every recruiter in your area is a good idea.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Think of it this way.  Why is a diamond so expensive while rubies are less as costly although studies show they are in actuality more rare?  Answer: Scarcity in the market place and marketing.  The scarcity is arguably artificial for diamonds.  (We won't go into all that political stuff).  Marketing is straight forward.  The value of diamonds, especially for engagement rings, sky rocketed when celebrities began advertising for their behalf.  

If you are represented by every Tom, Dick, and Hairy in the staffing world, you're not making yourself very scarce.  As a matter of fact you seem quite common.  I think you can do the math.

Likewise, conflicting submittals to the same company...ouch is not a pleasant thing for you.  At worst, that will cost you the job, period no questions asked (I've experienced this before).  At best, it will raise a red flag for the employer who wonders how careless you are about who you send your resumes to or if you were intentionally dishonest with them about already being submitted to the same client.  Neither is very attractive in someone the client is considering on bringing on board to their company.

Be judicious, thoughtful and learn to develop relationships with recruiters before allowing your resume to just float around everywhere.  You need to be marketed professionally and not cheaply shot out to everyone.  Also, it can make you look desperate which is not a good thing either.

#5 - Recruiters are scoundrels who cheat and lie their way to earn a living off others.

Unfortunately this is true.  This is true if you are the bottom 20% of our field.  Every field has bad apples.  Your'e going to tell me yours doesn't?  You mean candidates don't embellish their resumes to sound like they've touched more technology or had greater responsibilities than they actually worked on?  You mean candidates don't do research on how to appropriately answer interview questions so they can seem more polished than their natural state would allow them to be?

Look, there are crooked cops, bad lawyers, horrendous doctors, lying mechanics...etc.  Every field has bad ones in there and so does recruitment.  However, just cut your relationship short with those losers and find someone good.  Don't judge the whole field based one your few bad experiences.

Also, if you're consistently having bad experiences, ask yourself what you're maybe doing wrong and do something differently.  Talk to people with more than 7 or 10 years of experience instead of the fresh college grad or ask to speak to the owner of the staffing company, etc.  Change it up and I guarantee you'll see that you were just dealing with the wrong people.

Good luck out there!

If you want to contact me, find me on Linkedin, check out my other posts, or email me at Myrecruiterjosh@yahoo.com

Views: 1626

Comment by Tim Spagnola on June 6, 2012 at 8:37pm
Joshua- great read and thanks for sharing on the RBC. #3 had always been such a pet peeve of mine.
Comment by JC on June 7, 2012 at 10:20am

Well done

Comment by Darryl Dioso on June 7, 2012 at 10:21am

#5 is a hot button for me. Just like any other industry, there are unfortunately a few rotten apples that are give the rest a bad name.

As for point #1, as a Japanese car enthusiast I need to point out that the McClaren Hondas of the 80's dominated Ferrari and the rest of the F1 pack. Just kidding. 

Great post. 


Comment by Linda Ferrante on June 7, 2012 at 1:24pm

Excellent article, Josh!!  Very well done.  I'd like to add that just because someone is in HR it doesn't mean they are a 'recruiter' and just because someone is the hiring manager it doesn't mean they can do the job better than the recruiter.  I agree with your point about needing licensing to be a recruiter, absolutely!!   

Also, a good recruiter will ask intuitive questions, not just the ones of the internet under 'suggested questions to ask during an interview'.  Those recruiters give us a bad rap too!

Comment by Raphael Fang on June 7, 2012 at 2:57pm

#5 is no urban myth at all, and thankfully, only a minority of the recruiters are like that.  They are too focus to close the deal and forgot about doing their jobs.  Money is good, but it is not everything.  Customer satisfaction is more important.

As for Point #1, Honda Factory racing team had only 1 win and Ferrari F1 team won many world championship.

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 7, 2012 at 3:01pm

Thanks everyone!  I think we've all been on that end of the conversation with a candidate who just has the most ridiculous misconceptions about how we operate.  Hopefully, this helps spread the word about what the "real deal" is with recruiters. :)

Comment by Darryl Dioso on June 7, 2012 at 3:07pm

Now, you got me started...I didn't say factory Honda. I said Mclaren Honda (i.e. the 3.5L V10) - driven by Senna and Prost.  

Comment by Raphael Fang on June 7, 2012 at 3:13pm

@ Darryl, I know.  Just teasing/ Honda made some great engines.  I would also like to mention that Williams Honda also won 2 WCC and 1 Driver championship...in 1987, Ferrari finished 4th....  Just saying.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on June 7, 2012 at 3:55pm

LOL OK just making sure... ;)

Comment by StaffingStarr on June 7, 2012 at 6:25pm

#3 really gets my blood boing! I placed an HR Manager a few months ago, and negotiated a salary of over $100k + a bonus for her, along with other perks... I stayed in contact with her to make sure she was happy with the placement, and in hopes of building a solid partnership with her.  My sales rep approached her about an open position she had available and she didn't want to use our services to fill it.  She told my sales rep, "Recruiting is so easy, even a monkey could do it. And you guys get those big commissions, when the candidate is the one doing all the work." Needless to say, it's been months since I've spoken to her and I'm still too angry to have a professional conversation with her...


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