Working With Recruiters Effectively

I’ve had discussions with many people who are looking for work.  Quite a few of them have expressed some concerns on working with recruiters.  A lot of those concerns have to do with how the recruiters conduct themselves.  Many of those concerns could be addressed with just a little bit of insight into how recruiters work, how they are paid, and what motivates their actions.


How do recruiters find me?

Some people I’ve worked with were troubled by what they thought were cold calls coming from recruiters.  In reality it’s almost never a completely cold call.  If you’ve ever applied for a job on a job board, chances are a copy of that application has ended up in one or more recruiter’s hands.  If you have a LinkedIn account (and you absolutely should have one), then recruiters have an introduction to you.  If you’re blogging or tweeting regularly on a specific subject, there’s an increasing chance recruiters are aware of you.

Once they have access to some version of your resume it’s stored in a database that allows the recruiter to match you to open job listings.  They can match keywords in your resume as well as the distance between your location and the job site. 

In a later post, I’ll cover how to get your name in front of more recruiters, without being too spammy.


Why did the recruiter call me?

The normal process for a recruiter is this.  They look through open job listings, and then apply keywords from the job request to their database.  They sort the results by keyword weight (the number of times a keyword is used or the context in which it’s used).  The recruiter usually check the contact history for each prospect to see when their company last reached out to that prospect.  If they feel it would be appropriate to call that prospect, they’ll call or email.

The recruiter will work their way down the list until they find someone who will respond.  So even if you aren’t the highest ranked person for a specific skill, if you’re the first to answer, you’ll have a shot at the job!

In a later post I’ll discuss how you can get more calls for specific jobs by controlling how your resume will match job descriptions.


Why does the recruiter want me to alter my resume?

Let’s say your resume wasn’t the first result in the recruiter’s search when they went looking for a prospect.  If they’re a good recruiter, they’ll share with you the job description they’re pitching to you.  They know what the hiring manager wants to see, and what skills are important for the role, and which ones are unimportant.

Given they know all this information, they can help you craft your resume to stand out when the hiring manager first sees it.  They want you to have the best chance and securing that interview.  Tailoring your resume to make one of your many skills outshine the others is a good thing.

I’ve written and spoke about tailoring your resume before, and I’ll have many more posts on this subject in the future.

Now, there is another possibility.  If you’re being asked to alter your resume to show strength in skills you feel completely unqualified, or under-qualified, for… you need to speak up.  Let the recruiter know you aren’t skilled in those areas.  If they keep pushing, you need to end that relationship politely, but quickly.  Chances are you may be dealing with a recruiter who is simply trying to make it to a pay day.

This leads me directly to our next topic.


How do recruiters get paid?

The recruiters you will deal with get paid in at least two ways.  If the role is a contract role, they’ll get paid for every hour you work.  If the role is permanent placement they’ll get paid after you’ve been in the position for so many days or months.

Let’s go back to the recruiter who was pushing you to do more than tailor your resume.  If they get you into the role, they’ll get some money for every hour you sit in that job if it’s a contract. 

If it’s permanent placement and you can make it past however many days or months, the recruiter gets paid.

This could also lead some recruiters to trying to move you to a new role even after placing you in a company.  They want another pay day, so they’ll try to start the process all over again.



If you find a recruiter that gets to know who you are and what you want in your career, make sure you make that relationship work.  There aren’t a lot of that kind of recruiter out there.  Recruiting companies are divided in half.  Half recruit businesses and half recruit the talent.  Their interest is in making as many connections as possible. 

When you find one that is genuinely interested in making connections work for you, that’s when you have a great recruiter.  Don’t turn away from the entire industry, just turn away from recruiters that are only concerned with their bottom lines.

By learning how they work, I hope you all understand their motivations more.  In time, this can lead to you building partnerships with your recruiters, not just a one time transaction.  Once you’ve mastered that… your career will be much easier to manage!

If you have any questions, please send them in. I’m here to help!

By Shannon Lowder

Shannon Lowder is the Database Engineer you've been looking for! Look no further for expertise in: Business Analysis to gather the business requirements for the database; Database Architecting to design the logical design of the database; Database Development to actually build the objects needed by the business logic; finally, Database Administration to keep the database running in top form, and making sure there is a disaster recovery plan.

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