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A Recruiter Is a Broker Not an Agent

February 26th, 2021

I searched “broker” on google and got this (supposedly from wikipedia and LinkedIn):

A broker is a person or firm who arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. A broker who also acts as a seller or as a buyer becomes a principal party to the deal. Neither role should be confused with that of an agent—one who acts on behalf of a principal party in a deal.

I’ve always thought about the job seeker / recruiter relationship because when I was in my Big Failed Job Search I misunderstood it, and wasted a ton of time, effort, and hope on recruiters. It wasn’t until Dave, a recruiter who I thought was going to be my golden ticket, told me “you’ll find a job for yourself faster than I’ll find a job for you.”

My world stopped spinning and I suddenly and finally understood that the role of a recruiter wasn’t even close to what I thought it was.

I thought recruiters would love to have my resume, and would work hard to match me to openings. I assumed they would spend hours looking at openings and pitching me to decision makers. No, no, and no.

Once you understand that recruiters have a list of openings they are working hard to fill you can understand what your value to, or relationship with, recruiters is. You are a number. You are a commodity. You are hopefully the round peg they can fit into the round hole.

Of course some recruiters are amazing people. Some of them are job seeker advocates. Many of the recruiters I know are just splendid people who really care about you and your success. But their job, what they get paid to do, is to find a great hire. If you are not a great hire they are not secretly going to bat for you, and putting hours in for you. They are doing their job: searching for that great hire.

I thought I was networking with agents. I most definitely was not. And that explained why they ghosted me so often.

If you have a recruiter-heavy strategy, fine. Just make sure you understand who a recruiter is, to you, and who you are to a recruiter. Otherwise you’ll hit brick wall after brick wall.

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