Getting a call from a recruiter often raises a series of questions: Who does the recruiter work for? Will they work in your best interest? How much of a fee do they earn, and will it come out of your future salary?
While landing a job through a recruiter can end up being a win-win for both of you, it's also important to keep in mind that the recruiter is working for employers, and not you — and employers are the ones who pay the recruiter's fee for finding them a new employee.
That might sound straightforward, but if you've never worked with a recruiter before, it can be confusing. Here are seven myths about recruiters that you should know about in case you get a call from one.
1. Recruiters find you from industry colleagues
who sing your praises. While that's possible, it's not so much the norm anymore. Recruiters increasingly are using the web to seek out experienced candidates. That's why you must have a digital profile with an active social media presence on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
You might also have your own personal website to highlight your work and write a blog. Recruiters also search job boards such as Monster, CareerBuilder and Indeed. Still others look at Instagram and Pinterest, where folks with visually oriented jobs (such as graphic design) are posting résumés, says Sandra Jackson, an information technology (IT) industry recruiter for nearly two decades and founder of JobTownResumes.com, a résumé writing service.
2. Recruiters find you, not vice versa
If you want to work with a recruiter as part of your job-hunting strategy, go for it. You can track them down by using the methods they employ to find their candidates: via networking, referrals from colleagues and social media. Websites such as Bullhorn Reach, LinkedIn and the Riley Guide Directory of Recruiters make it easy to find recruiters, and ResumeBucket.com, ResumeRabbit.com and EmailMyResume.com let you send résumés directly to recruiters.
"You can shop online for recruiters the same way you can shop for a new car or for a vacation spot or for home repair," says Thomas J. Dixon, a food industry recruiter and president of Dixon Associates.
For example, if you type "food manufacturing recruiter, Plano, Texas" into a Google search engine, you will find Dixon's website. There are also trade associations of executive recruiters in most urban areas that provide a website with their members' names and expertise listed.
LinkedIn Groups and Twitter chats (such as #OMCChat and #InternPro) are places to meet active recruiters, too, says Mark Babbitt, CEO and founder of YouTern.com, a leading career website.
Look for a recruiter who has expertise in the industry in which you're interested. It's best to choose one or two recruiters that specialize in your field and build a relationship with them, Jackson says. "If you submit your résumé to every recruiter, thinking it will improve your chances, it can cause conflict at the hiring company — something you definitely don't want to happen," she adds. That's because agencies often work with the same clients, and if you have several agencies submitting your résumé for a job, it puts the hiring company in a tricky spot.
Keep in mind that a recruiter you contact may not have time to meet with you or talk to you at length until a job opening that's right up your alley crosses his or her desk. Recruiters typically will do a prescreening over the phone if you contact them and then file your résumé in their database for future jobs.