The work of a recruiter can be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the industry. The primary duty of a recruitment agency is to match job candidates with available vacancies.
Most agency recruiters work on a contigency basis, meaning that they only collect a fee when they place a candidate with their client company. However, typically the candidate must stay with the company 90 days before the recruiter can collect this fee. Many contingency recruiters work a “full desk” meaning that they perform both candidate sourcing as well as business development to obtain new clients. In some agencies, this work is split between recruiters who work exclusively with candidates and account managers who perform business development.
In contrast to a contingency recruiter, retained recruiters work in executive search and, as their title suggests, they are hired exclusively by the client company to search for a management-level candidates. Fees are paid upfront and are not dependent on successful placement.
Because the majority of placements are made on a contingency basis, this article will focus on the work of these recruiters. To do this we will go through the entire process that a recruiter uses when given a job order by a client company.
- Once given a job order the recruiter will call the hiring manager and ask about job specifics; i.e. job duties, job title, who the position reports to, salary range, start date. The recruiter may ask the hiring manager to divide job duties into “essential” and “preferred” skills. Essential skills may include knowledge of certain computer software (e.g. MSWord, Excel, etc.) and professional certifications. Preferred skills might be specific industry experience or second language fluency.
- Once the recruiter has the parameters of the position, s/he will then peruse major and niche job boards for resumes of viable candidates. With the rise of social media, many recruiters are also perusing profiles on such sites as Facebook and LinkedIn. Here we can note the difference between active job seekers and “passive” candidates. Active job seekers are those who are posting their résumés to job boards and openly mentioning their job search in discussion groups on social media sites. Passive candidates are not actively engaged in job search but open to discussing new opportunities. Passive candidates are identified by perusing social media profiles, especially those on LinkedIn.
- Once recruiters identify possible candidates, they contact these individuals to arrange a telephone pre-screening interview. This interview will differ depending on whether they are speaking with active or passive candidates. With an active job seeker, the recruiter will ask about the type of position the candidate is seeking, their priorities with regard to job search (e.g. salary, career advancement, schedule flexibility), and why they are leaving their current position. They will also discuss the opportunity in terms of essential vs. preferred skill set but, at this juncture, will likely not provide the name of the client company. With passive candidates, recruiters will mostly speak about the opportunity in terms of essential versus preferred skill set and provide some background on the client company (e.g. industry) but will likely not disclose its name. The recruiter will also ask what the criteria of a new job would have to be for the passive candidate to show interest although, in most cases, this will be higher salary and career advancement.
- Once the recruiter has identified about 7-10 viable candidates who have shown interest in the positions/he will then invite them for an in-person interview at the agency office. This interview will review the candidate’s background in terms of work experience, education career goals, reasons for leaving past employment, credit history, and criminal background. Candidates may also be given skills and personality tests if these are requirement of the client company. Do not be put off by all these questions as they are simply meant to help the recruiter make a best match between job vacancies and candidates. Remember that retention is the name of the game and that the recruiter will not get their fee unless the candidate remains on the job for 90 days.
- Once the recruiter has identified 5-7 strong candidates, s/he will send this list to the hiring manager who will then review résumés and the recruiter’s notes and select those candidates he or she wishes to interview.
- The recruiter will then coordinate interviews with selected candidates and may coach candidates with regard to interview technique, as well as company culture. Most recruiters will ask that candidates call after the interview to review their performance and whether they continue to have interest in the position.
- The recruiter will then follow-up with the hiring manager to discuss each candidate’s performance and whether a hiring decision has been reached. If the hiring manager does not wish to hire any of the candidates, the recruiter will try to clarify where the candidates fell short and renew the search with this updated criteria. If the hiring manager does wish to hire one of the candidates, the recruiter will discuss all aspects of the offer and present it to the candidate.
- In many cases, the candidate rejects this initial offer (usually due to salary) and the recruiter will then act as negotiator between the parties For example if the offer is $35,000 but the candidate wants $41,000 ( a difference of $6,000) the recruiter may try to split this difference by asking the company to raise the salary by $3,000 and the candidate to drop their requirement by the same amount thereby “meeting in the middle” at $38,000.
- Once an offer has been accepted, the recruiter then notifies the candidate regarding start date. Once the candidates has remained on the job for 90 days (or similar time frame) the recruiter can collect the fee which is typically in the range of 20 to 30 percent of first year salary.
It should be noted that the work of recruiters falls along a continuum and that it is most often the case that they have several job orders they are working on at the same time, each one falling at a different point along the continuum. For example, while negotiating a job offer on behalf of one candidate, a recruiter may be perusing social medial profiles to identify passive candidates for another job order. For those recruiters running a full desk, they will also be cold calling client companies trying to obtain new business for the company.