Things to Consider Before Using a Recruiter for a Job Search

by Mark Maenche, Candidate Representative to the Candidate Liaison Committee

One of the unique aspects to the actuarial career-field is the extensive involvement of recruiters specific to the industry. Many candidates are aware of the various recruiting firms playing in this arena. How do you know if using a recruiter would be helpful when looking for a new opportunity? The goal of this article is to provide some insights to consider when trying to decide if using a recruiter is best.

Recruiters are paid by the companies for whom they fill a position. It is important to remember that their ultimate goal is to satisfy their customer by making a quality placement so that they can get paid. However, recruiters have more than one party to the transaction: their customer (the company) and you. You should also be pleased with the new opportunity. A good recruiter will want to create a win-win scenario for all involved. It should be cause for concern if you sense this is not the case in your discussions with a recruiter.

Finding available positions can be a time-consuming process for a candidate. Because recruiters are working to place individuals on a daily basis, they will likely have more industry acumen than you. Their position affords them knowledge of opportunities that are either not advertised or that will become available in the near future. You will be limited to your knowledge of openings found scouring the Internet or from your network of friends and associates. In many cases a robust individual knowledge of positions available will still be eclipsed by a recruiter’s data.

A crucial part of the job-search process is getting your foot in the door for consideration. A recruiter’s relationship with a company can also help you to rise to the top of the stack of resumes that a hiring manager receives. It is a good idea to have a conversation with recruiters about their track record before engaging them on your behalf.

Another distinguishing element of a candidate’s presentation to potential employers is a résumé. Recruiters can evaluate the content and language on your résumé. They do not want to send your résumé to their client if it is not well done and does not include characteristics the client specifically wants to see. You can certainly have an outside party review your résumé, but the recruiter’s specific knowledge of what a client is looking for can be invaluable.

With these positives come some negatives. When a company hires someone placed by a recruiter, there will be a fee paid by the company to the recruiter. You, as the new employee, need to be aware of this fact. If the managers of a company were to hire someone who contacted them directly, they would not incur this additional cost. The bottom line is going to be a factor to some degree in driving decision-making. Therefore, you should consider and evaluate it when engaging a recruiter.

Another point to consider is that no one sells you better than you. If you can overcome obstacles to getting in the door for an interview, then you are going to be your best salesperson. Unless you have a personal relationship with your recruiter, he or she cannot know you and your experiences as well as you do. To get the most out of your relationship with a recruiter, you will have to sell yourself as a potential hire anyway. Perhaps you can do that just as well directly to a potential employer.

There are a substantial number of factors when trying to decide whether or not to engage a recruiter in your next job search. Hopefully, careful self-evaluation and the considerations listed above can illuminate the wisdom you need to help make your next career change a success.