Seven Things You Must Know to Find Work Through a Recruiter

Do you know how to find work through a recruiter?

A good recruiter can be an amazing resource in your job search. They can connect you to the local “hidden job market” and be your advocate with potential employers.

Unfortunately, many job hunters seem unclear about how recruiters operate, much less how their services factor into the search for meaningful work.

To answer some common questions about working with recruiters, we spoke with Kathleen Everett and (now retired) Carie Strahorn, two long-time recruiters for the Portland-based agency Boly:Welch. As a firm that provides contract-work, direct hire, and executive search services for a wide array of organizations, the staff at Boly:Welch are experts at connecting talent with engaging job opportunities.

Here are the key questions (and answers!) from our interview:

How do recruiters get paid?

Recruiters are almost always paid by the companies looking for quality talent. Their primary customer, then, are the employers–not you as the jobseeker. That being said, most recruiters are passionate about helping qualified candidates find work, and will be a true advocate for quality talent. As Carie notes, “the magic comes at the intersection of a great candidate who is prepared for a role, and a fabulous job that the employer brings.”

Are you guaranteed a job when you work with a recruiter?

The short answer: no. The recruiter’s job is to find candidates that best meet the needs of their customers. This is why a recruiter should only be part of your job search process. Both Carie and Kathleen urge jobseekers to continue networking, volunteering, and independently applying to jobs during the recruitment process.

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Then what are the advantages of a recruiter?

Recruiters can be a huge asset to job seekers, connecting you with fantastic work experiences. They often have access to a large list of unposted jobs–opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. Plus, many employers (including many larger employers) only hire through recruitment agencies, especially for contract work.

What is the difference between contract work and direct hire?

Employers use contract work for temporary staffing related to a specific timeframe or discrete project. In direct hiring, the company is using the recruiter to find a full-time, permanent employee. The line between the two types of positions can sometimes blur, as it is fairly common for temp workers to subsequently be offered full-time positions.

How likely is it that a temp job will turn into a full-time position?

Sometimes employers use time-limited contract positions to test-run candidates; to “try it before they buy it.” However this is certainly not always the case. Kathleen estimates that about 40% of all temporary placements eventually get offered permanent positions. She also notes a growing trend towards long-term temp work, with candidates landing contracts of two or more years.

How much job flexibility do you have when partnering with a recruiter?

If you have particular work needs–flex scheduling, alternative work hours, working from home, etcetera–make sure you share these with the recruiter early in the discovery process. The recruiter may be able to pair you with a company that can meet these needs.  Of course, the greater your demands the fewer employment options you may find.

How do you get started with a recruiter?

Before you contact a recruiter, you should first do some basic job search prep work. Get clear about your work goals and expectations. Polish up your resume and LinkedIn page. Find a professional interview outfit. Remember… you have to impress the recruiter if you want them to advocate on your behalf with employers.

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It’s also important to find the right recruiter for your area of interest. Many recruiters specialize in a particular job sector or geographic location. Do some research to learn about the firms in your area. Partnering with an industry specialist will result in opportunities better suited to your interests and abilities.

The best thing you can do is build an ongoing professional relationship with your recruiter, even when you’re not actively looking for work. The more your recruiter knows you, your interests, and your abilities, the more doors he or she can open for you in the future.