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: 1557

Comment by Rebecca B. Sargeant on June 12, 2012 at 10:46am

#5 hits home :-)


Great Blog - keep them coming.

Comment by Judi Wunderlich on June 14, 2012 at 5:56pm

Good article Josh.

You said, "Truth: There is no licensing requirement (although I think there should be) to become a recruiter."

When I started my first staffing firm in 1986 in Illinois, all persons having candidate-contact had to be licensed through the state. The test covered pretty basic stuff, like what questions can or can't you ask of a candidate, telling the truth in job ads, etc. So the licensing test per se wouldn't have eliminated the people who make the rest of us look bad.

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 14, 2012 at 7:15pm

Denise - I read your post when it first came up and recently it had just dawned on me that I remember exactly such a case 12 years ago when I first became a recruiter.  Also, I remember a similar case several years later and hearing about it from other recruiter buddies.  The funny thing is.... EACH time (without exception) the road block to business was AN HR PLACEMENT!  Whenever it's a business manager placed (IT DIrector, Creative Director, VP of Operations, CFO, etc.) THEY USUALLY are happy to help!  How ironic!  HR people I think might have a little jealousy and competitiveness to us since we are akin to them but often get much more attention and earn better incomes.  What do you think?

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 14, 2012 at 7:19pm

Judi - Thanks for sharing.  Perhaps a more "rigorous" exam is in order?  Better to have something rather than nothing I think either way.  At least we have something...even if just on paper that sets "some standards".  I just feel like we need to weed out the easy to eliminate group of people who call themselves recruiters.

Comment by Joshua Lee on June 14, 2012 at 7:21pm

Rebecca - too bad #5 hits home for me as well.  It's a shame when there is such misinformation out there about how we work and just as bad when some people can't get past a bad experience and allow that to prejudice an entire industry.  To me, that alone says something about that person.... but sometimes the skill set is so good, you still try to overcome their obvious mental weakness and talk them down from their high horse. :P


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