Are Recruiters Worth Your Time?

(I’m sure the recruiters reading this post are saying “are certain candidates worth MY time?”)

Within 30 days of getting my own personal pink slip I had 30 recruiters in “my network.” Ok, let me rephrase that – I had 30 recruiters on my Excel Spreadsheet (why wasn’t JibberJobber around when I needed it!), with dates of when I had sent my resumes to them.

I had even met with two of them in their offices. One turned out to be one of my favorites because he was so honest with me – he said “Jason, you’ll find a job for yourself before I find a job for you.” I took that as a quasi-compliment and I was a little bumbed at the same time because I thought that finding the right recruiter was like finding the silver bullet. Dave’s comment started me thinking about what the real recruiter/candidate relationship is like. Oh yeah, the other recruiter that I met with in person – oh boy. There’s a lame story. You can read about it here.

So, with my 30 recruiters that I had sent resumes to, I had a number that NEVER responded. Not even with an e-mail saying “I got it, thanks.” I called to follow-up and got somewhat brushed off. I didn’t understand what was going on – I just couldn’t understand this relationship at all. So I have a list of what I would consider LAME recruiters – that is, those that heavily advertise to job seekers but can’t seem to find their phone or keyboard to get back with you. I know all recruiters are very busy doing important things but it really was shocking to go from General Manager and everyone returns my calls to job seeker and no one, not even the guys that are supposed to be helping me, returns my calls!

So after the post on my favorite recruiters I got this e-mail from Dave about WHY recruiters don’t return calls. In the recruiter blogsphere this is becoming something of a tired subject (all those recruiters know why they don’t return calls) but I think as a job seeker it is critical to understand what your resources are, and how to work with them. That includes what drives them, etc. Here is the unadulterated from Dave (ok, the bolds are my additions – check out the last lines!!):

To net it out… A good recruiter with a great pipeline can fill 2-3 positions a month or about 25-30 year. That is it. So there are 25-30 people that think we are great because we got them a great job with better pay etc. However, simultaneously over the course of that same year, we will receive several hundred, if not thousands of resumes of people that are looking. It is impossible to remember them all. Because our pay check comes from the company and not from the candidates, there is only so much we can do. If I have 3 positions for Oracle DBAs, I am going to be talking to as many DBAs as I can to find that are qualified, interested, realistic candidates. If you are not an Oracle DBA, and it is going to take me 2-3 months to fill those positions, no one else is going to be hearing from me during that time. etc. So sadly, many people register with us or send us a resume and don’t hear back from us often enough. Maybe I have 500 Oracle DBAs on file but never have a company willing to use my services to find a DBA then what? They don’t hear from me. I would suggest too that many employed technical people get sick and tired of hearing from recruiters. They get called all the time because their skill set is in such high demand, that we are forever checking in with them to see if the ‘timing is right yet’.

It is a tough balancing act but at the end of my day, I have to be focused on my client companies needs. I have to find qualified candidates for whatever positions I am currenlty recruiting on. If your skills fit, you will hear from us, if they don’t you won’t. If your skills are too common, we may only have to call 15-20 people to find 5-6 that are interested. If we do, we are not going to call the other 300 that have the same skills. The key for the candidates is to have a relationship with the recruiter so that YOU are one of the first 5-10 people they call first, when they have an opening.

So, my answer to “are recruiters worth your time” is ABSOLUTELY. But realize what they are all about (here’s one example – an important read, here’s another one)! Unless you are one of the 25 that Dave mentions, they aren’t going to be your silver bullet. They aren’t going to get you a job in a week (well, sometimes it might work out that way). I suggest you develop relationships with them to stay on the top of their list. And that includes figuring out how you can provide value to them when you aren’t looking (i.e., take their calls, and refer them to your buddies). It’s all about the relationships, or as Keith Ferrazzi says, the intimate relationships (plural => get more than one recruiter to work with)!

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