What Is A Recruiter?

Robin Schwartz

What Is A Recruiter?

Before determining if working with a recruiter is in your best interest, it’s important to understand what a recruiter really does. There are different types of recruiters for different industries, situations and needs. It’s necessary to understand what various recruiters do to really understand the recruiting field.

Corporate Recruiters

Occasionally, you may be contacted by an “in-house” recruiter for a company, often called a corporate recruiter. The larger a company is, the more likely they have to divide HR duties. They have to invest in someone who solely focuses on recruiting top talent for their organization. In this situation, recruiters will be first to contact you about the position. They gauge your interest and determine if you are qualified. Then they decide whether or not to recommend your candidacy.

Someone who serves in a recruiting role for an organization generally:

  • Posts open positions
  • Screen candidates
  • Conducts initial phone screens
  • Interviews
  • Eventually conducts references if you are one of the final candidates

This person will often negotiate salary and benefit packages with potential new hires. This is so internal hiring managers can remain focused on their jobs. Not the details that go into securing a new hire.

Staffing Agency Recruiter

Recruiters who work for staffing agencies tend to differ from corporate, contingency or retained recruiters in one specific way: the positions they’re helping to fill are often contractual or temporary.

Staffing agency recruiters are skilled at matching a client’s organizational needs with available short-term employees. Temporary opportunities may be available because of seasonal demand, the medical leave of a permanent employee, or to cover an open position while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

These recruiters are often working in high demand and quick turn-over environments. They’re skilled in finding the right temporary employee for their client in a very short amount of time.

Contingency Recruiter

Contingency recruiters are tasked with finding the best talent for the best companies. Often, these professionals work for firms where their sole focus is sourcing talent and representing them in potential job negotiations.

You may have heard them be called “headhunters” at some point. While this is a more aggressive term that isn’t widely used now, some of the principles behind this term are still the same. Recruiters often come to you if you have a skill set in need. They’ll use social media sites like LinkedIn or other active job boards to identify people who might be passive in their job search and reach out to them.

Passive job seekers are simply that – people who aren’t actively applying for new opportunities. If you’re top talent, a good recruiter can turn a passive job seeker into a very active one. They’ll use the tools they have at their disposal to convince you to meet with them or consider new opportunities. They’re partly there to represent you to the client and partly there to represent the client to you. They’re selling from both sides!

Contingency recruiters may specialize in certain occupations or industries. You may come across titles like:

  • Executive Recruiter
  • IT Recruiter
  • Legal Recruiter
  • Management Recruiter
  • Pharmaceutical Recruiter
  • Sales Recruiter

Recruiters who carry specific titles focus in on that industry or occupation. If you’re seeking a sales job, it’s not going to be in your best interest to begin working with a legal recruiter. The legal recruiters won’t have the experience in your industry and won’t have the contacts to get your resume seen.

Recruiters working for firms or agencies have two main focuses:

  • Attracting top talent to market to open opportunities
  • Securing opportunities from current or new clients

In order to attract the right talent and job seekers, recruiters will utilize all resources at their disposal to find candidates companies would want. A recruiter might also post an open position directly on a job board in order to source a larger pool of candidates. Once these resumes are in front of the recruiter, they’ll review to determine who is most likely to impress a client.

If that happens to be you, you’ll be contacted by the recruiter for an interview. Sometimes when potential job seekers meet with recruiters, there isn’t an active job the recruiter has in mind. This is because recruiters need to have up-to-date databases of active job seekers in case a client were to call with an immediate need. It’s important for recruiters to constantly source candidates and potential opportunities for those candidates.

Retained Recruiter

Retained recruiters aren’t that much different than contingency recruiters. Oftentimes, no one actually refers to them as “retained” or “contingency” – just recruiter. The difference isn’t so much in the work that they do but how they’re contracted with a company to do the work. A retained recruiter is contracted by an organization up front to find the best person to fill a job. They’re not competing with other staffing agencies or internal HR departments.

Retained recruiters don’t have to seek the opportunity – it’s been presented to them. They’re main focus then is on the right candidates. Again, these recruiters will utilize databases, social media sites, and boolean searches in order to find the best candidate for their client.

If you’re interested in working with a recruiter: Start a search in your industry, career field or location to make a connection.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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