Beware The Mischievous Recruiter

As the number of technology job openings continues to increase, particularly in the web development spectrum, so has the number of recruiters and head-hunters, ready and waiting to place you at the “perfect” job. It stands to reason that they would try to act in your best interests. Or does it? Recently, many job placement services have adopted a “gold rush” philosophy, seeking to place as many people as they can, as fast as they can. The reasons for this are obvious. More placements mean more commissions, and since you usually only have to stay at a new job for 3 months in order for them to receive a full commission, recruiters have very little incentive to make sure that the job is a good fit for you. So what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this growing problem, and to get the most out of your next job hunt? Here are a few ideas from my experience.

Research Your Recruiter

Before entering into any business transaction, you should always have a good understanding of who you are dealing with. Finding a new position should also be treated as a business transaction because, well, it is. To what extent should you research a recruiter? You can start by asking co-workers in your office if they have dealt with a particular recruiter before. You might get a red flag right off the bat. Next, you can ask the recruiter for the names of clients with whom they have worked with in the past. If they won't give you any names, chances are they're trying to conceal more than just their contact lists. Meet with your recruiter. It sounds old fashioned in this digital age, but a handshake and a good conversation will go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable about your recruiter, or show you warning signals that might otherwise go undetected. Finally, you can contact the Better Business Bureau to see if they have been reported for poor business practices. Keep in mind that when you are job hunting, knowledge is power.

Know Your Worth

You want the best out of your next job, so be firm with your salary, benefits, and other requirements when recruiters and head-hunters are presenting opportunities to you. They will often tell you that you are asking for too much and try to convince you to settle for less. Fact is they just don't want to go through the hassle of negotiating the best deal for you. They would rather just take the quick, slightly lower commission and move on. Experience has shown me that if you stick to your guns and you have the skills to back up your requirements, you'll get what you're asking for. Be confident.

Give References Sparingly

Many recruiters and head-hunters ask you to supply them with professional references to corroborate your skill set. You should be wary of giving out these references. Most reputable job placement services already know that professional references are not very reliable, because nobody gives out the names of people who would speak poorly of them. The real reason why recruiters ask for these names is so that they can expand their list of potential clients. Don't be surprised if your references come back to you saying that they are now being approached by your recruiter about job opportunities. The next time you're asked for professional references, politely decline and say that you'd feel more comfortable meeting them in person. This should suffice.

Use More Than One Source

How many car dealerships did you visit before you made your last car purchase? Most people don't buy the first car they see, nor do they choose their new car from the selection of only one dealership. The same line of thinking applies to job hunting as well. Resist the temptation to use one recruiter exclusively, even though they may tell you that it is in your best interests. You increase your chances of finding the right job for you exponentially by using several recruiting sources. Bear in mind that you should not go overboard. A selection of 3 to 4 reputable job placement services should give you a fairly complete view of the job market in which you are searching, yielding the best results. Also note that it is best to pick a recruiter or head-hunter that is located in the market in which you are searching for a job. They will have better and deeper contacts with many local companies that might get missed by out of market job placement services.

Fight Back

Despite your best efforts to avoid it, odds are you will eventually have a bad job hunting experience through a recruiter. If it happens to you, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, tell others about it. Pure competition mandates that job placement services involved with disreputable business practices will eventually go out of business, but the system can only work if you take an active role in the process. Share your job hunting experiences with others, both good and bad. Don't dismiss the value of using a recruiter or head-hunter. They can provide you with an invaluable service. Just be patient, don't jump into anything, and be confident.

Do you have any recruiter stories to share? Are they good? Bad?

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