“Ask Patra!” Column … Edition #005

Posted by Patra Frame

Each week, Patra Frame, a frequent presenter at the Cleared Job Fairs will answer a job seekers question. These are questions that are either asked at the Cleared Job Fairs or sent into Patra. The questions can range from job searching, interviewing, or career strategy.

This week’s question:

Q: How can I get recruiters to represent me for jobs I want? How do I find a good recruiter to find me a job??

A: These questions represent some of the many we get regularly on working with recruiters from search firms. Since this is an area many do not understand, here are the basics:

First, a recruiter does not find you a job.
Agencies work for the employer and find candidates who meet the employer’s specifications. The employer pays their fees. If you are a good match for an opening they are trying to fill, you may be contacted. When the economy is poor, recruiters get a lot of resumes from people but far fewer employers are listing jobs with them as employers do not want to pay fees to hire.

Background information you can use:
While search firms fill only a small percentage of all jobs, it can be worth your while to know a recruiter and keep in contact. Find the reputable ones who specialize in your field by networking. Ask hiring managers you know who they have used that they trust. Get referrals from people you know who have developed a relationship with a recruiter and ask them to refer you. Then you can build a relationship in advance of when you may want job search assistance. Meanwhile they can give you a sense of the market and you can refer top candidates to them for other jobs they have open.

Search firms come in two main types.
The most common are contingency search firms. These only get paid if the employer hires using them, thus ‘contingency’. Sometimes they may be one of several firms working on the same job for the same employer. Sometimes they have an exclusive on the job.

Most specialize by both career fields and levels of positions, such as IT technical through mid-management; although some of the big national firms have several practice areas. They will present several candidates to an employer usually. Some work just to a written spec which they get from a client while others develop more in-depth relations with the clients and know a lot more about the employer than just the job specs. The other type of search firm is executive search. They have an exclusive agreement with the employer and usually deal only with senior management positions although some do upper middle-management.

Reputable search firms will interview you in detail before committing to presenting you to a client.
Often they will not tell you who the client is until they have a lot of information about you or until after the client has indicated interest — this confidentiality is one reason clients hire search firms.

Clients generally demand applicants who meet over 90% of the specifications and are currently employed when they use a search firm.

Contingency firm recruiters often work on a relatively short timeframe.
Do not be surprised if they ask you to re-write your resume immediately. On the other hand, sometimes their clients slow down and you may be left waiting after a rush to get your resume redone after the telephone screening. Talk to the recruiter about the process and timing, but do not forget that they are not in control of the process either.

See also:

About Patra Frame

Patricia Frame is an experienced human resources consultant and executive. She has managed development of HR and administrative functions, organization development, employment, process restructuring for productivity, compensation, training, and the human resources aspects of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. For more information, please visit


This entry was posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 5:16 am

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