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13 Things Your Recruiter Will Not Tell You

What would recruiters from across the industry tell you if they trusted you and respected you? We talked to recruiters, hiring managers and a few senior executives to find you some answers. What they told us can transform you into a candidate who is loved by the recruiters and positioned by them with glowing commendations in front of the hiring managers.


I get paid by the hiring company, not by you. I will never ask for money from you. This also means that since I get the money from the company, I would act in their best interest not yours. Unfortunately, this also means that I may try to convince you to accept a lower salary even though you may truly deserve a higher salary. Be very clear about your expectations and also make it clear to us the range you will accept. If we see a person who is decisive and yet reasonable – we will respect him and most likely find him another job which is within his acceptable salary range.



But are there are situations when I wouldn’t convince you to lower your salary expectations? Yes, this is true in those situations when I get paid a percentage cut from your salary.

So am I the bad guy? No, these are just facts of life. We just want to make profit for those who pay us. Most of the people in my tribe are fair and honest and transparent. However the onus is on you to ask us the right questions.



Here is a quick scoop on recruiters (forget about the jargon of contigency vs retained search recruiters. That’s sooo text-book; this is real-world scoop:

Some recruiters work as full time employees of a company (or one division of a company). This is mostly true in the case of Fortune 500 companies. These recruiters are an extension of the HR department. If we are this kind of recruiter, don’t expect us to coach you much. We may even try to negotiate with you to lower your salary expectations.

Some of us work as private contractors or with agencies which have been contracted by the companies to find them candidates. We get paid a commission on the candidates who get hired as well as money for bringing in a certain number of candidates to be interviewed – esp good candidates.

Sometimes you may feel aggrieved that we did not position you for a particular job. We may only position you if we think you are the right person for the job – else we lose credibility with the hiring company. However if you are an intelligent person (in our opinion), we will be transparent with you and mutually agree that this may not be suitable for you – let’s position you for something which is appropriate for your expertise and experience. We may get paid a commission on your total earning or hourly rate etc, but at the same time we get paid only if you get hired. So we will work with you to propose a salary (or hourly rate) to our hiring company which is most likely to get you accepted.

Some of us work as vendors. What is a vendor? This means that we will find you a job in a company X at a certain hourly rate (assuming you are applying as a contract worker). But you don’t get paid by company X – we will get money from company X for the work you do – and we will pay you after subtracting our commission. You will be on our payroll even if for all practical purposes you work for the Company X.

For example, if you get paid $150/hour, we may subtract $20 and give you the rest ($130). A reasonable commission is between 5% – 10%. We may even make you sign a contract that you can not work directly for the hiring company for a certain period of time after your contract with us expires.

But if you are a savvy candidate, you will read the fine print and ask us to take out this clause. You can negotiate with us – maybe we won’t take this clause but instead pay you more to keep you happy! Or we will modify the next contract we renew with you to be more flexible for you.


You should not work with those of us who don’t communicate with you. You need to trust us (even if we work for the hiring company). If we don’t have some information, we will tell you so. We will not, not respond to your mail – unless of course you are a pestering kind.



Ask us to review your resume. Let us know that your resume highlights only some of your experiences and you would like our help in making it relevant for the company we are working for. We will help you refine your resume a bit.



It’s a myth that with LinkedIn and Facebook, recruiters are irrelevant. Actually the reverse is true. Most company policies prohibit hiring managers from directly reaching out to candidates even if they find such candidates on LinkedIn. In this world of outsourcing, the HR department is shrinking and the recruitment work is more and more contracted out to outside agencies and contractors.



You can make it easy for me to find you. Update your LinkedIn profile. But don’t put all the meat there from your resume. Your LinkedIn profile should only be a summary – snapshot of your key strengths. Otherwise all your friends will steal all the nice refinements you make in your resume. Lot of vultures out there.



I want long term relationships with both companies as well as candidates.



Once you commit to work with me be honest and upfront with me. Don’t followup on the same advertisement through me as well as directly or through others. Don’t try to cut me out of the deal. You need to trust me and I need to trust you.


Please be very quick with followups. Sometimes I need to move lightening fast and if you hold me back, I will position the other candidate. However, if you must have time to refine your resume according to the requirements I have specified, please be clear about it as well. Don’t let me browbeat you into sending in a bad resume.


After the interview give me a shout and let me know how things went.


It’s not easy for me to find candidates. If you know other candidates, please let me know. I will owe you one.

Keep in touch with me after you get hired and send in some of your friends my way.


Executive recruiters are different from executive coaches and CEO agents. A recruiter is one who works and gets paid by the hiring company. A CEO agent or executive coach gets paid by you. He will find jobs for you and act as your private secretary – emailing your resume to different companies. Neither of us can guarantee you a job – but both us us respect honest, responsible, capable candidates.

Does it help you to know all this?

Probably yes. When you talk to us and you understand which kind of recruiter we are – you would know what kind of questions to ask us, the kind of help you can get from us. For example, if we are full time employees of a specific company, then you know that we will try to get you to lower your salary. You will be better off negotiating directly with the hiring manager.

If we are not full time employees of the hiring company – we may be vendors, external agencies on contract with the company or private contractors. If so, please quiz us as much as you need to about the hiring managers, the company and their culture, hiing timeline, interview process, past interview questions – as well as about the other candidates we are proposing. Most likely we will be upfront with you and want to help you as much as possible.

If we are a vendor as described above, then you should make sure that we do not put too many limiting clauses in the contract and do not take too big a chunk of your earning.

Life is fun and games and hope you find your dream job soon! All the best!