Halloween Special - Recruiters: Trick Or Treat?

Shaun Stevens 31.10.2017

Entering the job market can be a daunting place in anyone’s mind – so where do you start? Witch agency do you pick or get “picked” by...

Who to choose?

Look for a recruiting firm that focuses on your industry. That means they really understand your job, your work, and the typical career path in your industry. Specialists also usually have a good handle on the compensation packages in your area.

Key things to look for are:

  • recommendations on Linkedin
  • a history of placements within that business
  • a genuine understanding of the market


In my market we rely heavily on referrals, not just with people we have placed but people we have spoken to and retained a strong relationship with, this can be another telling sign of reputation.

Why not apply directly?

It may seem like an obvious option right? See a job online which ticks all the boxes of what you are looking for and matches your profile, then just sit back and wait for the call... 

As an agency recruiter, we have seen a huge growth of internal talent teams over the years, who in all merit cover many different areas and have many different stakeholders they have to form relationships with, and often due to pressure of large organisations will see their portfolios change; making it hard, even though they sit under the banner of that brand, to truly understand the dynamics of each individual function.

As an example, one of Australia’s largest organisations gets over 170,000 direct applicants each year with around 50 on-site recruiters managing these – an incredibly demanding role. We do hear stories of candidates who “tick” all of those boxes not receiving that  call. With the right recruiter, you’ll get the interaction you expect directly from the client (hiring manager), interview feedback and more importantly you’ll have a middle-man to help you negotiate your salary (which inevitable is one of the hardest things to do on your own). With many roles, if you apply directly to that business it is unlikely you will be able to be represented by a recruiter, so always ask the questions first before pressing that submit button. 

Are you being given all the options?

Again, this is where you as a candidate need to test the agency. It is in any recruiter’s interest to help you be successful with your job search. That’s our job.

So it is unlikely a consultant will not represent you for a business and role that you are “right” for.  If you apply for an advert that you think matches your background and aren’t being considered for the role, ask questions, again test the reliability and knowledge of the recruiter you are using and ask for honest feedback as to why you aren’t suited. It may come down to simple salary expectation difference...

One common misconception:

I encourage candidates to be very aware of the business side of the house. Most recruiters are paid by the employer, not the job seeker.

A recruiting firm is not:

  • an outplacement agency - paid by the ex-employer
  • a government jobs agency- your tax dollars at work
  • a talent agency - that represents a stable of actors and gets a percentage, think Ari on Entourage.


Like other firms, recruiters have clients – the employers who hire them to find them the best talent. So never worry about your salary when using an agency.

How many recruiters should I work with? 

Have you ever put your CV online then received 15 calls the next day?

You need to be picky, don’t work with everyone. Think of it like apple bobbing and choose the one who best fits your needs. Finding a job is a job in itself and managing your time to interview and go through a process can be painstaking. Multiply this by five agencies, all with ten jobs and you have yourself a complex cobweb of a job search.

A good trick:

A little trick to evaluate a recruiting firm: do they want to meet you in person?

That usually means they are a high-touch agency, one that values their relationships. That they are taking the time to carefully vet their candidates shows they are thorough and serious; it’s also a great way for you to evaluate them. 

So what’s in it for the agency?

Inevitably any good recruiter, whether they are starting out or have been in a market for ten years, is looking to build a network. The stronger the network, the better their career will be. A testament to this is a number of examples of where we have placed the same person numerous times into different roles over a long career period.

Remember the service you are looking for, this may vary if you are a contractor looking for an increase in your hourly rate compared with a permanent candidate looking at long-term career opportunity. Be honest, open and inquisitive when choosing a recruiter and expect nothing less back. 

Shaun Stevens's picture
Manager | Strategy