Myths about Using Executive Recruiters

By Debra Wheatman

On November 30, 2010

In Job Search Strategies

About career advice


Some of my best friends and colleagues are outstanding recruiters. If you are currently looking for a job, there are a few things you need to know about what recruiters can and cannot do for you. 

  1. One of the most common misconceptions is that recruiters help people find jobs. While it is true that recruiters do place people in some very excellent positions, recruiters are primarily beholden to the customers they represent. 
  2. It is the job of a recruiter to find a candidate to fill a position.  As such, recruiters seldom market candidates to companies, and when they do, they only select the cream of the crop as ‘Most Placeable Candidates’ (MPCs).
  3. Roughly about 5% of the revenue a recruiter makes is from placing a candidate into a company.  95% of the revenue is from finding a good candidate to fill a specific open role.  Recruiters either work on contingency or are retained by the employer.
  4. If you are in career transition, have changed positions frequently, or if you have worked in multiple industries, it is less likely that a recruiter will be able help you. The recruiter may want to help you, but the corporations that pay 20% of annual base salary in commissions expect recruiters to hit the nail on the head.
  5. Networking with recruiters who are in your niche market is still a very good idea.  If you establish a positive relationship with a talented recruiter, they will remember you the next time a suitable opening does come across their desk.

Recruiters are an important part of a search strategy, which should also include networking with people in and outside of your network, participating in related industry groups, and to a lesser extent using the Internet.

It is important not to put your eggs in one job search basket.  In addition to reaching out to a network of recruiters, it is vital to make sure that your professional message gets into the right hands, and is presented in a way that is dynamic and compelling.


This article is part of the Career Collective monthly blog posts.  Below are links to the other blogs for December 2010 from the Career Collective.

5 Misconceptions Entry-Level Job Seekers Make, @heatherhuhman,

How “Interview Savvy” Are You?, @careersherpa,

Employers Don’t “Care”, @ValueIntoWords,

Misconceptions about Using Recruiters @DebraWheatman,

15 Myths and Misconceptions about Job-Hunting, @KatCareerGal,

Are You Boring HR? @resumeservice

Job Search Misconceptions Put Right, @GayleHoward

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!, @KCCareerCoach,

How to get your resume read (sort of), @barbarasafani,

The 4 secrets to an effective recruiter relationship, @LaurieBerenson,

Job Interviews, Chronic Illness and 3 Big Ideas, @WorkWithIllness

The secret to effective job search, @Keppie_Careers:

Superstars Need Not Apply, @WalterAkana,

The Jobs Under the Mistletoe, @chandlee,

8 Common Sense Interview Tips @erinkennedycprw

Still no job interview? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Misconceptions about the Hiring Process: Your Online Identity is a Critical Part of Getting Hired @expatcoachmegan

4 thoughts on “Myths about Using Executive Recruiters”

  • Chandlee Bryan  says:
    December 2, 2010 at 3:01 pm


    Excellent straight talk on working with recruiters. The insider information on how recruiters get paid is particularly helpful. One quick question I have is this–do you advise job seekers to proactively seek out connections with recruiters or is it better to be introduced through a mutual connection?

    The advice I've heard is that it is always best to be referred to get consideration, but that it can also pay off to simply go to a recruiter's website and enter your own information–if you don't have any previous connections.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks again,

  • Megan Fitzgerald  says:
    December 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm


    Great points! One of the things I most often have to educate my clients about is the fact that recruiters are not working for them – but for employers. They do not openly advocate for job seekers.

    Having a clear understanding of how things work with recruiters helps people not rest on their laurels and not expect that recruiters are doing work they should be doing themselves to support their job search.

    My best,

  • Martin Buckland  says:
    December 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Very pertinent blog Debra

    To support Chandlee's question, the best introduction to a Recruiter is through a referral. Also they appreciate further referrals from the candidate.

    Key to relationship building with a person who can be a key influencer in securing new appointments is to maintain communication when gainfully employed. They like you and me want to know successes and not just a communication when in career transition.

  • Debra Wheatman  says:
    December 6, 2010 at 10:32 am

    While it is always optimal to be referred to recruiters, contacting them directly is acceptable. Thank you all for your comments.

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