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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Understanding Headhunter Ethics #AskTheHeadhunter

August 20th, 2019

JibberJobber Recruiter Job Seeker AnxietyWhen I was in my 2006 job search I thought that recruiters, headhunters, etc. would be my best friends. I thought I would get on their radar, they would be excited to know I was available, and hustle to get me my dream job while they were working towards some sweet commission. Talk about a win-win!

Turned out that there was only one friendly interaction with a recruiter, and that was the one who finally candidly said:

“Jason, you’ll get yourself a job before I get you a job.”

It was this recruiter who helped me understand that no, I wasn’t special to him, and no, he wasn’t going to get me my next job. It really was all on me.

I had a gross misunderstanding of how recruiters worked, and what they would “do for me.”

In yesterday’s Ask The Headhunter post titled My headhunter is competing with me!, Nick Corcodilos goes deeper into this relationship. I think it’s critical for us, as job seekers, to understand how we work with (and don’t work with) headhunters. Why? Because if we have the wrong expectations we will be working the wrong way.

Here’s insight that I needed to understand back in 2006:

 “The [recruiter’s] goal is to fill the job, not to get you a job.”

Read that five times. Print it out and put it on your bathroom mirror and your monitor. You have to understand that recruiters don’t work for you. And unless you fit something they are looking to fill, they have already passed you over. There’s no “file” where they keep hot candidates like you. They’ll tell you they’ll file your stuff away, but I’ve heard more than one recruiter say their “file” got too big, so they just deleted everything so they could start from scratch.

This knowledge was unsettling to me at first. But then it became freeing. When I understood that I was going to find a job for me before any recruiter would, I realized that I had to do the right stuff in my job search. The wrong stuff was to get 30+ recruiters “working for me.” Because none of them worked for me. None of them even thought about me for more than 20 seconds (which was how long it took to think about their open jobs and whether I was a great fit).

It was all on me. Instead of me being a tool to the recruiter, they were a tool to me. And that tool was best left in the toolbox while I did a real job search.

I’m not saying recruiters suck, or are ruthless, or have no soul. They simply have a job to do. We, as job seekers, haven’t understood their job, and so we have expectations that are not only unfair but unrealistic.

Understand how that part of the job search world works and you can spend your time where you really should.

Read Nick’s post to understand, and then take personal responsibility in your job search and get on my Job Search Program. The $197 cost will be worth it.


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When you rely on recruiters for your next job…

February 4th, 2019

You are setting yourself up for a longer, depressing, hard job search.

This is absolutely not bashing on recruiters. Ask many of them and they’ll tell you the same thing. If they even tell you anything at all.

We want to think that finding a job through a recruiter is like buying a car through a car salesman.  Here are our assumptions of how these things happen:

Buying a car: We come to them, we tell them what kind of car we want, they try to match the car that is closest to what we want and what we can pay for, we pay money, they get a commission, and then they go off trying to sell another car.

Getting a job: We send our resume to recruiters, we hope they figure out what we should do and how they can match us to a company they work with or the current openings they know about, they get excited because we are freaking awesome and a perfect candidate, they coach us through the entire process, we get the job, they help us negotiate the salary, and it is a win (for us), a win (for the recruiter, who gets a commission for bringing us to the table) and a win for the company (who gets a freaking awesome hire!).

When we buy a car, the salesman kind of acts as our agent. Yes, they represent the company, but a good car salesman wants to understand what is best for us, and then cater to that. They want to make a great match. From great matches come repeat customers and referrals. They really care about us.

However, when we are looking for a job, I’m sorry to say that there is no agent for us. Okay, I’ve met a small handful of people who are agents for job seekers, but just like with a real estate agent (when you sell your house) you have to pay the agent. For the most part, there aren’t hardly any agents out there.

And recruiters are most definitely NOT agents for job seekers.

It took me months to figure out that I was not a gift to recruiters. That my resume wasn’t going to change their lives. That in fact, they really didn’t care about me, and adding me to their database was about as good as having my resume thrown in the garbage can.

For months I tried to network with recruiters… over thirty of them. It’s what I thought you should do. I heard talk of this at job clubs and read it on blogs. “Find a recruiter in your space,” they would say. Someone who specializes in your title or industry. Then, network with them. Give to them. Open your network for them. They’ll appreciate you, and they’ll reciprocate with opportunities.

Nope, nope, and nope.

At least for me, it was a big fat nope. It was a waste of time. Thank goodness a recruiter finally told me that I’d find me a job a lot faster than he’d find me a job. That’s when I started to rethink the recruiter/seeker relationship. That’s when I stopped networking with recruiters for my job search.

Again, I’m not here to bash on recruiters. I just want you, the job seeker, to understand the nature of the relationship between you and them.

Having a recruiter-only strategy might be as effective as asking every car salesman you know for leads. Now that I think about it, perhaps asking every car salesperson you come across might be more effective than going through recruiters.

In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about “power networkers.” These are people who inherently network. Because of the work they do, they know lots and lots of people, and have some kind of connection or relationship with them. If I remember right, he talks about lawyers and accountants as power networkers. Recruiters should be power networkers. But I’ve found that if you are a job seeker, and don’t fit any of their openings, they are very, very busy and don’t have time to talk to, or help, you.

Bottom line: please don’t have a recruiter-centric strategy for your job search. It will likely be disappointing and drawn-out.

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Job Search and Recruiter Scams: YUCK!

November 8th, 2017

Nick_corcodilosIt’s hard enough being a job seeker without having to deal with this junk.

Nick Corcodilos calls out a certain scam in this post: Job applications are the biggest recruiting scam

His readers mention a few more sleazy scams in the comments. It’s a depressing read, but it’s important that you understand that job seekers are not safe from scammers. From identity theft to opportunists to spread hope when they really have nothing to offer, you need to be careful.

Check out Nick’s post, and read through the comments. One of my favorite parts of his post is the end, where he tells you how to really vet whether a recruiter has real interest in you.  He says you should ask the recruiter who calls you out of the blue:

“Why does your client want me?”

Hopefully you’ll get a real, sincere response.  Then ask:

“When does your client want to talk with me?”

What you don’t want is to entertain fishers who are playing the numbers game.  These questions help vet them.

In the comments, Scott says he asks “What do you know about me?” I find this to be a brilliant question as it will show you whether the recruiter reached out to you after a half-second look at your Profile, or because they really know who you are, what you have to offer, and are really interested in you.

I’m not saying all recruiters are sleazy, I know plenty that are consummate professionals. But the truth is it doesn’t take much to become a recruiter… I’ve been doing this for almost twelve years now and I’ve seen there is a revolving door for those who can’t do the job. The problem is, the incompetents that Nick talks about are there long enough to give the rest a bad name.

Eyes open, be wise, and be careful.

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Open Letter to Job Seekers from a Recruiter (my response)

August 21st, 2017

Last week I read Mary Faulkner’s post, An Open Letter to Job Seekers. I thought it was going to be a scathing response telling job seekers to not whine so much, and not make their jobs harder. Instead it was more of an apology, and a “here is what I have to deal with” message.  It was pretty nice.  Thanks, Mary, for sharing that.

The problem I have is that in my experience, no recruiters were like what you describe.  Most of the time what I got from recruiters was crickets. Ignored. Nothing. Not even an email confirmation…

It was like dealing with an entity that didn’t exist. Or, someone who didn’t give a rip about me.

I get that perhaps you (I say this generically to recruiters, not specifically to Mary) might want to help people, and that you care about people. But when you give me NO response, no feedback, no leads, no nothing, and this happens dozens and dozens of time, I’m left confused.

You see, I’m already in a tailspin… this job search is something new for me… I don’t quite understand it. I think I’ve had a pretty cool career, and my resume explains most (but not all) of my awesomeness.  Well, I *thought* that… day after day of the job search wears on you. No responses from recruiters, wasting time on job boards, trying to network, etc.  And getting nowhere. Day after day, feeling like I’m going backwards, as the threat of money runs out, or my ability to pay for my mortgage slipping away.

Scary. Lonely. Confusing.

I want to meet recruiters like you, but my experience with recruiters was on the other side of the spectrum.

I respect that you are human, and have feelings. I understand that you have process and system problems, and work challenges. But somehow I think that you are the experienced one in “our relationship,” and you know what’s going on, and you can help me make less mistakes. I assumed that we had a relationship.  I assume that you have a grip on your job, and are professional, and will act as a professional.

I just don’t feel it, or see it, on my side. I want to, but that hasn’t been my experience (yet).

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Why Recruiters Don’t Call Back

July 14th, 2016

“Network with recruiters,” they said.

I did. About 30 of them. It was an exercise in ME reaching out to THEM and rarely hearing anything back from them.

I didn’t understand the relationship between recruiters and job seekers, nor did I understand the role recruiters play. What is a job seeker to them?  What are their goals?  Understanding those things helped me realize why no one was calling me back.

I just read Lisa Rangel’s 12 Unspoken Reasons Why Recruiters Are Not Calling You Back. She lists 3, and gives you a link to download a paper with the rest.   Anything I’ve read from Lisa is great, and worth the time…. so go check it out.

Here’s my answer to why recruiters don’t call you back: because you are not a likely candidate to fill a role they have been hired to fill.

It’s that simple.

I thought recruiters were “power networkers” (which is  phrase from Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone book). Some might be, but many I’ve talked to are not good networkers at all.

I thought recruiters loved to, and were good at, helping people get hired.  Not really… that’s not necessarily their job.  Their job is to fill a role… not help someone (anyone) get hired.  I’ve come to learn that that expectation is as absurd as expecting the butcher at my grocery store to come to my house and cook the meat I bought.  It’s just completely, totally outside of what they get paid to do, and even what they are trained to do.

When I realized that recruiters didn’t call back because they didn’t have a role that was perfect for me, and they never would call back unless I was going to help them fill a role, I moved on. I stopped forcing networking with these supposedly great networking contacts, and networked with other people.

Doing this was mentally liberating. My expectations and hopes, with regard to relationships with recruiters, was more realistic. And I spent time where I needed to.

How about you – are you ready to move on from “networking” with recruiters?



How to make job postings 1,000 times more valuable

September 25th, 2015

I don’t know when this changed, but when it did, it made a job posting lose most of it’s value:

Compensation: Commensurate with experience

Are you kidding?

Based on the title, and the region, you can guess a certain job would pay between $80k and $105k.

But then you go through the interview process and finally do the salary dance, and learn that the company wants to pay someone $45k for the job.

You just wasted time, mental energy, and perhaps money, to find out that the job’s compenation was 1/2 of what you thought it would.

This is why job seekers feel disrespected.

I know you don’t put the salary range for a myriad of reasons…. but doing this is akin to blind dating.  It would be really, really nice to know what kind of salary you are budgeting for a job before we get to invested in the process!

I doubt this will come back, but if it did, we could waste far less time in the job search process.

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The Resume Black Hole: Disappointing Proof from CareerXroads

June 26th, 2015

In a Wall Street Journal blog post (For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists), there’s disappointing and perhaps disgusting proof that the resume black hole is there.  Like anyone in a job search needs to read an article to know it’s there.

But for the rest of the world… there’s no question.

Thanks to Mark Mehler and team at CareerXroads, who put together a fake resume each year and send apply for jobs at companies listed on Fortune’s “best companies to work for” list, we can see how these best companies treat applicants.

If this is how the best companies treat applicants, how do the worst companies treat applicants?

To be fair, the list is of the best companies to work for, not companies who have the best, most respectful hiring process.

Employers (should) know that if you are rude and disrespectful to a job seeker during any part of the hiring process, they remember your company and form new opinions about your products and services that run deep and stay for a long time.

Here are some highlights from the blog post:

“… his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.” So in this test, they are playing to the ATS algorithms.  Note this is not about networking in, talking to the hiring manager, etc.  It’s all about the resume strategy, and, optimizing the resume.  Yes, do that, but also network into the company!!!

“He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.”  Later in the blog post you learn that only 2 out of 100 companies spotted that.  Of course an ATS isn’t going to look for some statement that this is a fake resume, but from this might we deduct that 98% of companies have no human involvement for much of the process? Mark Mehler, founder of CareerXroads, suggests that “recruiters [only] read the first three paragraphs of a resume.”  Lesson?  Make those first three paragraphs awesome and engaging!

“…64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied.” This has bothered me for a long time.  Companies, please  give me ANY notification of a status update!!!  I know you have legal and HR breathing down your necks to say nothing, but for goodness sake, be humane!

There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m not talking about automated technology.  I’m talking about basic, respectful communication, and managing expectations.

Until that gets figured out, folks, please do not solely rely on the spray-and-pray resume blasting strategy.  No JibberJobber user should ever say “I’ve sent out 1,000 resumes and I got nothing… no leads.”  Maybe you will send out 1,000 resumes, but JibberJobber users should use a networking strategy that far outweighs any time spent sending emails and applying to jobs online.  I know it seems harder, but this is how you’ll get closer to getting your next dream job!  Make me proud!


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6 Secrets of The New Interview + JibberJobber and Job Search Organizing

June 22nd, 2015

Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, shared 6 Secrets of the New Interview from his book, The New Interview (an instruction book), on this blog post.

Here are his six, with my commentary:

1. Insiders have the best shot at the job.  They also have the best shot at recommending outsiders for the job.  Are you networking with people at your target companies so that you could be recommended by an insider?  This, my friends, is what I would call working the hidden job market.  How do you keep track of all of your networking touch points, and follow-up conversations?  Using JibberJobber, of course.

2. The real matchmaking is done before the interview.  Nick says “a headhunter never sends a candidate to an interview unless the headhunter already knows the candidate can do the job.”  How do you keep track of which recruiters know what about you?  Use JibberJobber to keep a profile on your recruiters, and when you send them what information, and who you have referred them to.

3. The interview is an invitation to do the job.  Nick says the interview is not an interrogation (even thought it might feel like one, since the stakes for you are so high!). In JibberJobber there’s a section called Interview Prep, to help you prepare for your interviews.

4. The employer wants to hire you, and he will help you win the interview. Combine the idea of interviewing well and having insiders network you in and refer you, and you’ll be ahead more than if you didn’t do those two things!  As noted above, JibberJobber helps with both.

5. The boss wants one thing from you: He wants you to solve a problem.  Same as #4 – can you, in the interview, prove you can solve the problem?  And, do you have insiders that influence the boss vouching for you?  JibberJobber helps organize and track this.

6. You will win the job by doing it. That is, not talking about it, but somehow assuring them that you know how to do the job, without any doubt.  This, I think, comes down to your personal brand, and how well you have communicated your abilities and success to your contacts.  You can use JibberJobber to keep track of which contacts need to know what about you, and whether you have told them the right stories or not.

In Nick’s post he shares a link to the interview flow chart… this is a complex process, and I can see how JibberJobber could add value to almost every step in the flowchart.

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An Interview with Jeff Browning (Austin Ventures) and Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes)

October 1st, 2014

I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter.  She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):

Do you read profiles on resumes?No. Most of them are not useful to me. I want to know about specific domain experience, scope of job, and your accomplishments. Metrics matter. Add metrics to your resume.  I also want to see some information about your employers because I haven’t heard of every company in the world. What does the company do? How large is it? Is it public or private?

When someone sends you a resume how long do you look at it to determine if you are interested in reading more of it?

About 5 seconds.

What are you looking for in resumes that are submitted to Austin Ventures for jobs in your portfolio companies?

Well first you have to understand that most of our job descriptions are VERY granular and specific.  Domain (industry) experience is the most important thing I look for so if you don’t have the domain experience we are looking for at the moment you may not be a fit for the immediate need we have, but could be at a later time.

We also look for individuals who have actually worked in early-stage start ups before. We want someone has seen this movie before and knows how it goes because we need our executives to be able to hit the ground running.  If you have never worked in an early stage start up before you just don’t know what you don’t know. Individuals who have spent an entire career in large corporations sometimes think they could easily make the jump to early stage start-ups but it’s just not usually the case.

Do you think that someone who has spent their entire career in Fortune 500 companies could be successful at an early-stage start up?

Well anything is possible and large company executives have many talents and valuable experiences. It also depends on the stage of the company. But, generally speaking, we find that executives who are the most successful in leading start-ups have previously been employed by other start-up companies.

What advice do you have for big-company executives who want to switch gears and work in a start-up environment?

If you are an executive at a large company like, say, IBM, and you want to work in an early-stage start-up, my advice is to take it in steps.  The analogy I use is diving. You learn to snorkel first and then you slowly learn to dive deeper and deeper.  The same can be said of the start-up world. If you are a big-company executive you might try transitioning to a mid-sized company before diving into the world of early-stage companies.  Start ups and large corporations are totally different professional experiences.

What DON’T you want to see in a resume?

I don’t like to read functional resumes because they are confusing.  I want the resume to be simple, straightforward, and to the point.  No graphs. No charts. No hard-to-find dates or metrics.  Think about how to make the resume easy for me to get the information I need to decide whether or not to call you. Don’t make it confusing or colorful because it’s distracting and I don’t have time to try to decipher confusing resumes.

What surprises you about the job seekers to whom you talk?

I am surprised at how many people contact me about jobs and when I tell them that I don’t have a position for them currently and don’t really have any ideas for them about job openings they have no other questions for me. They don’t ask me about the Austin marketplace which I know well. They don’t come prepared with questions other than “do you know of any job openings.”  I enjoy executives that have done their homework and come prepared with thoughtful questions.  It’s also really nice when they end the conversation with “is there anything I can do to help you?”

Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”

Thanks for sharing Liz and Jeff!


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