6 myths about recruiters we need to stop believing

When you’re on the hunt for a brand-spanking’ new gig, you’ll often do anything to snag the best position. From updating your resume and networking like crazy, job seekers want to be polished and ready for an interview or opportunity.

But as they say, there is power in numbers, and working with a recruiter can open new, exciting doors. Even though professionals with the inside scoop have been fueling the job market for decades, many people are wary of working with one.

How come? There are far too many myths circulating about recruiters that, to be frank, simply aren’t true. Here, leaders in this industry share what you can actually expect by opting into their services.

Myth: A headhunter and a recruiter are the same thing.

Truth: They serve different functions

While they may have similar-ish job descriptions, they serve a different purpose for both employers and potential hires. With 11 years in the human resources field under his belt, senior recruiter Cecil Villar explains a headhunter works specifically with positions that are not being advertised. On the other hand, a recruiter — by definition — works in house or is exclusive with a company. Though these days many staffing agencies call their headhunters recruiters, they are not always one-of-the-same.

Myth: Any recruiter should be able to help me.  

Truth: It’s better to find a specialized recruiter. 

When you need advice on the best language to use in your resume, you ask a friend who moonlights as a wordsmith. Or, when you can’t figure out an impressive outfit for a promising interview, you send photos to someone whose fashion sense you respect. So why wouldn’t you seek the authority of a recruiter who specializes in your industry?

As a career coach Cheryl Palmer explains, most recruiters choose to specialize in certain jobs, not only so they can become niche but to build their own network of opportunities. “You should do your research first to find out which search firms work with people in your industry. That way you will not waste time contacting search firms that do not fill positions in your line of work,” she advises.

Myth: It’s a recruiter’s job to find employment for job seekers.

Truth: They help you find the right match but don’t make the deal for you.

Technically speaking, a recruiter doesn’t work for you, even if they are supplying you with opportunities. As career expert Amanda Augustine explains, a recruiter works for their clients (aka, the employer needing to fill a role) and not the professionals seeking employment. “Their focus is on identifying talented individuals in their respective industries and matching them up with their clients’ open positions, rather than helping job hunters find and land new roles,” she explains. 

That being said, a recruiter should work with a candidate to prepare for an interview and to offer any insights into the client’s needs and process. They don’t have to share this info, but most do, to ensure the client is impressed — and hopefully, you get the gig you want. “If you’re working with a recruiter, consider them a valuable resource, but don’t mistake them for a career coach,” she explains.

Myth: Recruiters only care commission, not finding you the right job.

Truth: They have your best interest at heart.

Many people are skeptical of recruiters because it often feels as if they are only out for a meal ticket. Or in other words: their commission. Some recruiters work off of this payment structure, while others work full-time, in house. Regardless though, recruiter Julie Walker explains reputation is everything in her industry.

And if she puts someone forward for a gig that is definitely not a match? It doesn’t bode well for her skills. “It is our job to make sure that the skills and personalities are a match; for both the client and the candidate,” she explains. “If we are not forthright about the realities of the job there’s a very high likelihood that the candidate will fall off almost immediately; which means no commission at all and a ding to our reputation by both the candidate and the client.”

Myth: You’ll receive a lower salary offer if you work with a recruiter.

Truth: Actually, you might make more!

If you are worried about your bottom line and how much a recruiter will cost you, as a job seeker, rest easy. Augustine reassures candidates that while the employer will pay recruiter fees, it shouldn’t impact the compensation package you are offered.

Even more so, recruiter fees are often based on a percentage of your starting salary, so they are inclined to fight harder for more zeroes for you. “As an added bonus, recruiters are usually well-informed on the going rate for a position based on location, industry, and the company’s size, so they can offer insights that will help you during the negotiation process,” she adds.

Myth: Recruiters don’t actually review applications, robots do that now. 

Truth: They still read them. 

If you think your cover letter and your resume is your recruiter’s responsibility, think again. Because they have to pre-screen candidates before ringing them up, the senior manager of talent acquisition at HelloFreshAllison Kaplan, says recruiters will read every last word on an application. This is true, even if it is 2020, so be mindful of what you write.