Jim Grant's Blog

Help for Job Seekers – It's all about the process!

Working with External Recruiters

I had a job seeker contact me a few days ago and share an experience with an external recruiter. (By “external”, I mean a recruiter who will recruit people for many different employers.) The job seeker’s story went like this. The recruiter contacted him, indicated he had a job for the job seeker, and asked him to come in to talk about it. When the job seeker got there, he was asked to fill out some paperwork, some of which asked the job seeker to pay the recruiter’s fee, if he did not stay with the employer for x number of months. Fortunately, the job seeker did not sign the paper and walked out. He was, of course, disappointed since the recruiter had a job for which the recruiter thought the job seeker was a good fit.

That was the tip-off for me. The job seeker never got a chance to review the job description and determine for himself whether he might be interested.

I’m sorry to say I’ve heard this story too many times. A job seeker gets lured into an external recruiter’s office, fills out a bunch of paperwork, and, for some reason, never gets an interview. Sometimes, after arriving at the recruiter’s office, the job seeker finds out that the job has now been filled. (If you believe that one, I’ve got a house in Florida I want to sell you.)

There’s a very simple thing you can do to avoid wasting your time in these situations and filling out recruiter’s paperwork. That is, change the sequence of events. The first thing for you to do when an external recruiter calls you is to ask him for the job description. If a recruiter won’t review the job description over the phone, that’s a red flag. If you’re not interested, then you’re done with that external recruiter (at least for this job. If you’re interested, next ask the recruiter who the employer is. Assuming you are willing to work for that employer, you can tell the recruiter he can submit you to the employer. If he asks you to come in and fill out paperwork, that’s a red flag, but you may decide that’s the only way to avoid losing the opportunity. Regardless, never sign anything that obligates you to pay a fee.

By the way, on behalf of the recruiters, if a recruiter reveals who the employer is, I feel you have a moral and ethical obligation to work through the recruiter in pursuit of the subject job. This isn’t an opportunity to exploit a recruiter’s good will, run around him, and contact the employer yourself.

Please note. I do not have a vendetta against external recruiters. I know many who are high integrity people and have excellent business practices. However, there are others you need to be careful dealing with.


August 26, 2010 - Posted by | Use External Recruiter


  1. Bravo…well said. Remember recruiters work for the company who hired them. If you can create a good working relationship with them, do. If they’re resistant and insistant on pulling information from you, move on.

    Comment by Nancy Patterson | September 13, 2010 | Reply

  2. Great, thanks. What external recruiters do get from “processing” candidates, is they receive grants / donations from government and companies. They just live off of that while keeping processing statistics by how many people they had talked to etc., without any intention to help to employ anyone.

    Comment by Gramotey | May 15, 2013 | Reply

    • Gramotey – While I cannot deny what you say in your first sentence about recruiters receiving grants/donations, you state it in a manner that a reader could interpret it as an “across-the-board” situation. I do not know that is the case and would doubt it.

      In regard to your closing phrase, “without any intention to help employ anyone”, I have met, spoken to, and listened to presentations by many external recruiters. I believe the vast majority of them to be good people, capable and experienced at their jobs, and help job seekers in the interest of their candidates getting hired and in the interest developing relationships with people, in general.

      If you’ve a bad experience with an external recruiter, you have my sympathy. However, be careful about making and sharing generalizations, particularly negative ones.


      Comment by Jim Grant | May 15, 2013 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s