• Career Center

    Recruiters Left Scratching Their Heads at the Fact No One Will Take Their Calls

    By | May 22, 2014

    It's probably not all that far from base to assume Glassdoor hopes no matter how content you are in your current position, you're cruising their website looking for your next big opportunity. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that they suggest you take recruiters' calls even if you are happy at your job:

    You may be in your dream job but that doesn’t mean you should blow off the recruiter or executive search consultant if they come calling. Getting inundated with recruiters‘ calls if you have sought-after skills can be annoying, but you never know when the roles will reverse and you will be the one looking for a job.

    “It’s very common (for people to blow off recruiters calls) and it always leaves us scratching our heads,” says Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied in New York. “We very often know about positions that no one knows about. At the end of the day you want to be the first person we think of.

    This reminds me of the time I bitched on Facebook about PR people who blow up my inbox with pitches that have nothing to do with my job. My cousin works for a PR firm in Los Angeles so I expected to hear from her but what I didn't expect was a friend from Chicago — who is in PR, duh — yelling at me for being so elitist and judgy. Like, how dare I not counsel PR people and tell them what kind of pitches I want to get. I told her that was ridiculous and ain't nobody got time for that.

    Recruiters are kind of like PR people. They have their place and every now and then they're good for something but most of the time, they're like a gnat buzzing around your head.

    Glassdoor continues:

    For the happily employed it doesn’t hurt to take the phone call. After all they may have an amazing job for you. Not to mention you are clearly wanted because they are the ones seeking out you.  Even if the job may not be right for you but could be ideal for someone you know which creates a win win situation. You get to refer someone you care about and you create a relationship with the recruiter because you are helping out.

    Maybe it doesn't hurt if you take one phone call. But when you're getting blown up by recruiters all day long, that one phone call turns into HOLY BALLS, WHY WON'T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE?!

    Here's the funny part:

    “Recruiters know which industries are shifting, which companies are growing, who is downsizing, and they are able to share this information in a third-party, non-biased way,” says Tom Gimbel, president and chief executive of LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing company. “They know which skill sets are in demand, which certifications you need to grow your career and what you need to succeed in a role.” Not to mention recruiters know a lot of people and can connect you with mentors, key players and others who can help you’re career.

    Recruiters are non-biased? I guess they're working for free, then? Silly me, I thought they got a cut if you buy in and get hired by their client.

    What say ye, GC faithful? Should you spend half the day fielding calls from recruiters on the off chance one might hold the key to that "dream job" you are holding out for?

    • Guest

      The other day I received what looked like a form email saying they were working on “many exciting opportunities” and to get in touch if I or someone I know might be interested. The email also contained multiple typos despite only being a few sentences long.

      This is like a car dealer calling me up six months after I bought a new car and letting me know they have “many exciting deals” available on the lot and that I should consider referring business his way, although he will not be sharing a cut of his commission check with me.

    • I once worked as a telemarketer during College. One thing that always will stick with me is when the trainer said of sales, “Your job is to CREATE a desire to buy the product.”

      And the recruiter in the article sounds just like that guy.

      IMO you need to be savvy and have a short and long term career plan with a back-up to each. If not, then you might just be fast-talked by some recruiter into taking a crappy job. Five months later you’ll look around and say, “Holy shit..I’m just an AP clerk”.

      Also, ask people who have left the firm and that you trust for the name of the recruiter they used. If you consistently here a good name, then try and form a long term relationship.

      As for the others….meh, they’re good for some good intel when I want to gauge the market. Otherwise, just accept their linkedin request, tell them you’re not interested at the moment, and move on with your life.

      • RandomExDeloitter

        I couldn’t agree more. My LinkedIn gains 10-15 recruiters this time every year. All I’m doing is gauging the market and politely declining to speak to them, but I always accept them on LI. The best part is 6 months later, while perusing my connections, I see that most of them have changed jobs, not me.

        • ” The best part is 6 months later, while perusing my connections, I see that most of them have changed jobs, not me.”

          Lol, that IS the best part.

    • Ex-Big4

      Recruiters are scumbags. They are only interested in earning commission for placing candidates to the posted positions. It’s about probability. Collect as many resumes you can and send them off and cross your fingers that one of those resume works out.

      I ignore all recruiter calls and emails. Only legitimate ones are through Linkedin where HR reps from actual employers reach out based on matching the available jobs to your profile on Linkedin.

      • GAAPGirl

        “Only legitimate ones are through Linkedin……” Are you referring to the hookers?

        • PrivateIndustry

          The proper term is “escorts”. Sex is extra.

        • Adam

          Does that head open up like a dome? It looks like the Canadians on South Park.

          • GAAPGirl

            Cyanide and Happiness. Perhaps the greatest web comic of all time.

    • cool story brah

      My favorite recruiters are the ones that cold call you on your cell phone then get pissed when you get pissed that they have your phone number

    • Guest

      I can’t wait for B4V to show up and give us his contrarian opinion. I’ll never understand why that guy thinks so highly of recruiters.

      • Guest

        Ha! If they’re a senior manager or partner at BDO.

      • He hates em


    • Big4Veteran

      “For the happily employed it doesn’t hurt to take the phone call. After all they may have an amazing job for you. Not to mention you are clearly wanted because they are the ones seeking out you. Even if the job may not be right for you but could be ideal for someone you know which creates a win win situation. You get to refer someone you care about and you create a relationship with the recruiter because you are helping out.”

      There is so much wrong with the above paragraph…

      1. If I am happily employed or in my “dream job”, as it said earlier in the article, then why should I waste my time talking to these used car salesmen?

      2. They may have an amazing job for me? I admit that my evidence is anecdotal, but I have never heard of anyone getting their “dream job”, or even an “amazing job”, through a headhunter. The rare, truly great jobs come through your professional network.

      3. I’m clearly wanted because they are seeking me out? I was on their list of probably 1,000 marks to receive a cold call. They know nothing about
      me, so how am I “clearly” wanted?

      4. Why would I refer my friend to a recruiter, unless my friend was desperate to get out of his/her job? Also, I don’t need to actually waste my time speaking to headhunter to refer a friend to them.

      5. I’m not really interested in forming a relationship with a recuiter. Here’s one of the dark secrets of the scum pond these people live in: 9 out of 10 of them can’t cut it for even 1 year, so if I were to start looking for a new job 2 years from now, most of the recruiters I “develop a relationship” with today would be gone by then. There will never be a shortage of headhunters calling and spamming me…so why should I pay them any attention until I am actually in need of finding a new job?

      • GAAPGirl

        I picked up the phone by accident once and “started a relationship” with a recruiter. Two weeks later, someone from the same firm told me that so and so had left and they were taking over her accounts. A month or two later, I got another call saying that new so and so had left and they were taking over her accounts.
        Another friend from my current firm left after senior promotion to go be a head hunter and was back at the firm not even 3 months later. She went to a pretty reputable recruiting firm but said they offered minimal help in searching for potential recruits and all she did was cold call people and get hung up on all day. She got sick of bothering former colleagues and quit.

      • Guest Recruiter

        First, I’ll public out myself as a recruiter. I realize this forum generally does not like recruiters but I’ll add my .02 anyway.
        Our industry has a lousy reputation. Some of it is deserved. Lots of recruiters do act like used cars salesmen and many are in and out of the business in 6 months. There are many though, this writer in mixed who have been recruiting for many years and do right by the people they work with.
        Yes, we make money off you. If that is offensive, maybe public accounting was not the right career path. Pretty sure your partners also make money off you.
        Most accountants are not great negotiators. A good recruiter will be able to get you MORE than you can negotiate for yourself and deal easily with multiple offers and counter offers.
        Good recruiters navigate the process and act as a bigger between buyer and seller. Ever buy or sell a house without a realtor.
        Yeah, you could probably get a job without us but I could also do my taxes on TurboTax. Better to work with a pro.
        And as bad as you think we are, can’t remember the last time a recruiter was arrested for giving away inside trading info on the golf course or an entire recruiting firm was taken down by the misdoings of a recruiter in our Chicago office.

        • Big4Veteran

          Oh goodie, an actual recruiter has weighed in. Interesting points here, but nothing new. A few counter-points from me…

          “Our industry has a lousy reputation. Some of it is deserved.”

          Actually, ALL of it is deserved. And I love how every recruiter I talk to always says that all the other recruiters are scumbags, but they themselves are an honest business partner. Bad mouthing the competition is always a sure sign of a reputable professional.

          “Pretty sure your partners also make money off you.”

          I don’t know of anyone who objects to the fact that someone gets paid for providing a service. Good strawman attempt though.

          “A good recruiter will be able to get you MORE than you can negotiate for yourself and deal easily with multiple offers and counter offers.”

          Bullshit. This is one of the big lies that recruiters tell. They try to convince the recruit that they are your agent and their job is to represent your best interests. But there is no contractual relationship between the recruit and recruiter, and no such fiduciary duty exists. In fact, the contractual relationship is between the recruiter and the employer. So although the recruiter can actually make a few extra bucks by negotiating a slightly higher salary for a recruit, the smart play for the recruiter’s long-run game plan is to deliver a recruit to their client for less than the recruit may have gotten by negotiating independently. Also, it’s a lot of work to negotiate a higher salary for someone else. The recruiter could better spend that time trying to land a shitty job for the next sucker on their cold call list.

          “Good recruiters navigate the process and act as a bigger [sic] between buyer and seller.”

          Again, falsely representing that the recruiter is the recruit’s agent.

          “Better to work with a pro.”

          The term “pro” is obviously being used loosely here. That term, as used in the context of this discussion, doesn’t include competence, talent or integrity.

          “And as bad as you think we are, can’t remember the last time a recruiter was arrested for giving away inside trading info on the golf course or an entire recruiting firm was taken down by the misdoings of a recruiter in our Chicago office.”

          Nice final selling point. This recruiter is obviously a great deal closer.

          • BallBearingsandDuctTape

            The beautiful thing about recruiters is that they are commodity traders – and if you are not a partner – then you are a commodity – and given the fact that turn over at various levels in most firms these days is like food through a duck’s ass (no matter how much “flextime” and “work life balance” and free branded clothing you get) – then there are plenty of commodities to be traded. I like the point that recruiters who plan on sticking around for any length of time have a responsibility to the company that they are 1. Under contract with to provide employees at x% of salary or 2. Have developed a relationship with a hiring manager because of their ability to reduce the starting price of better than other candidates – by nature implies that their fiduciary responsibility is to the person buying the commodity.
            Linked In is a great networking tool – and recruiters don’t network – they lead hunt – and then when you realize they have placed that same position four times in the past six years because management sucks, turnover is high, and those perks they promised “because of their relationships” – it is too late.
            Listen, we are going to be replaced by computers soon, and our jobs will be relegated to call center operators answering questions from the firm’s database of pre-formatted responses to the most FAQ GAAP conerns. In the interim, the recruiters are going to continue to trade hog bellies –

            • Smokin’ CPA

              Philosophical answer……..we are all commodities. Say we are corn, then what is the head hunter? The burlap sack? I hate to say it, but I agree with B4V on something and that is that recruiters are basically useless, outside of the company usually staying unknown. They are a cross between a telemarketer and a real estate agent……………….very prestigious. Fuck them!

        • PrivateIndustry

          “And as bad as you think we are, can’t remember the last time a recruiter
          was arrested for giving away inside trading info on the golf course or
          an entire recruiting firm was taken down by the misdoings of a recruiter
          in our Chicago office”

          I don’t think you are doing your profession justice by comparing it to a subset of scum in our profession. That is like bragging about winning a gold medal in the Special Olympics when you are not handicapped.

          A fair comparison would be whether the majority of your profession upholds themselves ethically, professionally, and is knowledgeable of their profession and their client’s industries in a similar manner as CPAs’.

          Case in point, I got a call from a recruiter from a very big search firm (one that gobbled up all the other finance and accounting placement firms) for a financial system administrator job. She kept insisting the candidate needed a computer science background and experience that I knew was superfluous and unnecessary. In the interest of not wasting my time, I asked her to go back to her client and ask for the specific job duties of the position and whether the hiring manager needed primarily finance or computer science experience. Sure enough, the job description was NOTHING like what she described from the first call and the hiring manager needed finance experience first, system admin experience second as the position was supporting the company’s finance and accounting departments.

          If a recruiter’s job is to add value to a candidate and/or a company’s hiring manager, then why am I doing the recruiter’s job better than the recruiter?

      • Gust

        The only time we used third-party recruiters was when the job was so horrible we couldn’t find candidates by referral or otherwise. If you talk to these guys you need to have a very, very healthy degree of professional skepticism about the “opportunity”

    • PrivateIndustry

      There is some truth that recruiters earned their scum-like reputations just like car enthusiasts label dealerships as “stealerships”.

      Every recruiter I have met uses the shotgun approach to hiring: Throw as many resumes at a hiring manager and see what sticks. Likewise, they throw every clients’ job openings at candidates hoping one of them catches the candidate’s attention.

    • Guest

      Sensing some jealousy. A good recruiter will make more than the average senior manager and a great recruiter will make more than your typical partner.

      • JustAnotherCPA

        No jealousy. It’s just that most of us have never encountered a “good” or “great” recruiter.
        Echoing the above comment:
        “My LinkedIn gains 10-15 recruiters this time every year. All I’m doing is gauging the market and politely declining to speak to them, but I always accept them on LinkedIn. The best part is 6 months later, while perusing my connections, I see that most of them have changed jobs, not me.”

    • GTainted

      Good topic. I was at GT for 10+ years – likely talked to 50 different recruiters over the years. There were two recruiters who each had 6 or 7 years of recruiting experience that I kept in contact with – simply because I told them exactly what I was looking for and for them to only call me when they had an opportunity with the right specs. Each would call me 2 or 3 times per year, usually with excellent opportunities. It finally reached the point I was ready to shoot myself in the face and GT had had enough of me (we were like the girlfriend and boyfriend that were tired of fucking each other) – I was a Senior Manager and let both of the recruiters know I was ready to go. One of them delivered a picture perfect opportunity and a great fit on both ends. After 6 years of calling me, one guy finally collected a $40k fee for placing me and I used the other guy to hire a manager out of E&Y which put $25k in his pocket. Pick a couple of recruiters with some experience and that respect your wishes. Let the others go to VM.

    • keepin_it_real

      My 2 favorites are when
      1. I get amazing job opportunities for tax managers or tax directors when I’m an audit manager.
      2. I get job openings for senior accountants and senior internal auditors that would require me to take a pay cut.

      If recruiters expect me to take them seriously, at least look at my linkedinn profile and realize that A. I’m not in tax and B. I’m an audit manager and they should have a pretty good idea of what I’m making already. Don’t spam me with shit that requires me to take a $10-$20k paycut. Spam me with something relevant that might actually catch my eye.

      • FmrManager

        It was awesome for me, leaving as a manager in B4, to tell recruiters time and time again I didn’t want a senior role.

      • That’s where the Glassdoor article falls on its ass. It’s basically saying you should put up with all that spam on the off chance you might get one “dream job” (someone explain to me what that is) out of it.

        That’s like saying you should hook up with a bunch of 4s at the bar just to marry an 8 some day. Doesn’t happen.

      • disqus_mbkF20E77K

        Yeah I completely hate it when recruiters call and the conversation shows that the recruiter read nothing of your Linkedin profile or put any effort into research whatsoever. If they’re not willing to research me as a candidate, why should I believe anything they tell me about this job opportunity?

    • GAAPGirl

      Why I won’t answer their calls:

      “I don’t want a job in FS.”
      “Great! I’ve got the perfect opening for you. It’s a low level staff position with a Fortune 500 FS company working longer hours than you do now for a teensy bit more than your current salary. Limited room for growth as it’s a grindhouse and no bathroom breaks. Interested?”

    • GAAPGirl

      Copy and paste from the greatest introductory email from a recruiter I have ever received:

      “open to new roles ?”

    • AaronBalake

      I like when recruiters call me to ask if I want to leave the big 4 to join some mid level firm…..sure, I would love to downgrade -_-

      • Nclt

        Hey, I think some of your douche is showing…

        • AaronBalake

          Hey, I think your jealously is showing. Couldn’t make it into big 4? Sucks to suck.

          • Nclt

            Actually I left the Big 4 because the Elitist like yourself need to learn to chill.

            • AaronBalake

              1. Elitist shouldn’t be capitalized
              2. I’m not elitist, I just know I happen to work for a good firm with awesome benefits and an awesome salary, so I’m not sure why I would want to leave that for something lesser.

              You sure you didn’t get fired? Maybe you just couldn’t handle big 4 and their expectations? It’s ok, keep telling yourself you made the right move in leaving.

            • Nclt

              You’re right; I must have made a terrible mistake opening up my own firm and becoming my own boss rather than taking it up the ass while cramming money in someone else’s pocket. Oh well, enjoy your weekend (if you get to take one…)

            • #BallinCPA

              Right on Nclt. I left B4 and opened up my own firm. I think the firms try to hypnotize the drones with that shit about “you work for a good firm with good benefits.” With the 15+ hour days I was putting in during busy season, I made more in those few months than an entire year as an experienced manager. Still have the rest of the year to go. Nothing like being your own boss.

            • AaronBalake

              Except there is no “busy season” in Advisory. I’m not a CPA or an accountant. I come here to laugh at how miserable all the CPAs are and listen to them bitch every year about how “busy” busy season is.

            • BallinCPA

              “I’m not a CPA or accountant” – there it is!

              “I come here to laugh at how miserable all the CPA’s are” – Generalize much? Is that what they teach Advisory staff. Oh, I forgot, your lack of qualifications are noted above.

              Look at the turnover rate of any Big 4 and you’ll see it is far more than the turnover rate of any mid-tier or regional firm. By the way, you’ll see that most of the people who “bitch every year about how ‘busy’ busy season is” are from Big 4.

            • MIKE JONES

              HAHAH NCLT wins this one

            • AaronBalake

              Opened his own firm he says. I’m inclined not to believe you.

            • Guest

              Awesome firm/awesome salary… Still drinking that Kool Aid huh? What are you doing on this website?

            • AaronBalake

              Here for the laughs. I’m not saying there isn’t better out there, I’m realistic, there are obviously better jobs out there that pay more for less hours. However, it doesn’t mean that big 4 doesnt’t offer a decent package. I will admit the hours blow and there is no such thing as a “work life balance” but hey, employment in general is an accomplishment in this economy.

            • Smokin’ CPA

              Ol’ Aaron’s tone changed a little bit towards the end of this discussion…………………

              I’ve done most of it (Big 4, large regional and now a CFO) and what I have learned is a douche is a douche, no matter how cool his/her business card is……

            • AaronBalake

              Takes one to know one, bud.

          • Hater

            Big Four = Big Ego. FYI, you make half of what an investment banker makes for the same hours. Time to get off your high horse. And no one outside of accounting gives a shit (or even knows) about Big Four.

      • Guest

        It’s not that uncommon to see people leave the Big4 for smaller regional/local firms because they want more reasonable hours but aren’t ready to leave public. But I have no idea why you’d leave for BDO or GT since the hours are just as bad.

        • AaronBalake

          Sure that’s fine. But when the first question they ask is “how are you liking (insert vig 4 firm here)” and I respond with “its going well,” I’m not sure why then the recruiter would try to pitch going to a smaller and less recognized firm.

          • babyballz

            This is true. That’s why I only f*ck with recruiters that are for public accountants. The rest are just used car salesmen (and women).

      • Babyballz

        Some people prefer the lighter hours during busy season for the same pay. And some people don’t like the B4 culture, so I don’t think it’s LUDICROUS for a recruiter to ask, lol.

      • guest

        possibly the most arrogant thing posted on this site ever.Where do you work now? KPMG? Who was under the thumb of the DOJ since time began? Or maybe you’re an Andersen Alum and sold your grandmother down the river for a slice of the Advisory business Enron offered up? None of them? Maybe Deloitte then whose family members traded on inside information and whose Partners use the Casino as their personal loan specialists? NO? Then it must be EY who sold the aptly named Viper Tax “product” to it clients. Only cost them about 120M. You’re cannon fodder and nothing else so get over yourself. Its amazing how easy these little faux pas come to mind and I’m pretty sure I can find four or five HUNDRED others if I did a little digging

        • AaronBalake

          Feel better now? I hope that post helps you sleep tonight. But sadly you failed to guess the correct firm, sorry your butt hurts so much though. You accountants are so sensitive almost anything pisses you off. You make it too easy.

          • Get a Hobby

            The only Big 4 firm not mentioned is the realm of the douchelords, PwC. Not sure why that wasn’t the first guess.
            For such a hotshot non-accountant, you spend a lot of time on here ‘putting people in their place.’

            • AaronBalake

              I’m just here for the laughs at how much all your butts hurt. What’s funny is I say i’m here to purposely piss you guys off and yet more people chime in to comment. Not the smartest batch of people are you?

            • Nice bit of trolling sir. I award you 10 internets.

            • AaronBalake

              I prefer bitcoins

            • AaronBalake

              Realm of the douchelords. I like it. I am inclined to agree too.

            • They need to add that as a category on the yearly Vault rankings.

          • guest

            i would have included PwC but I didnt want to risk the carpal tunnel syndrome I would get from doing all that typing

      • IndenturedServant

        I work at a big4 and i can tell you that no non-CPA thinks your job is prestigious.

        are you mad that you didn’t get MBB (or even Deloitte/Accenture)?

        • AaronBalake

          Do me a favor and find me the comment where I said I think my job is prestigious.

          Considering I didn’t apply to other firms…no I cant say I’m mad.

    • babyballz

      I try and stick to recruiters that have public accounting experience. Also, I don’t accept them on LinkedIn, even if the message me. They’ll end up spamming your connections. My rule of thumb for LinkedIn connections is: would I do this person a favor? Would I ask them to do me a favor? If not, then there’s no point in connecting to them.

      I’ll accept HR recruiters from companies like B4 or F500, but if I accept and they haven’t messaged me in a week or so; I delete them. I recently had a recruiter trying to shove a job down my throat, telling me that the 10% increase in salary it provided was “standard in this city/market.” I replied with “my firm increases my salary about 10% every year, so why the fck would I want to leave for the same?”

      • EXB4ANON

        yup. Pretty standard for them to give the whole, “8-10% is standard.” Why would I want to leave for a salary that won’t provide any sort of long term benefit, knowing that I will receive that this year, if not more. I won’t leave for less than a 30% increase onto my base. Don’t give me any of this crap about how that’s not realistic. There is no logical reason to leave for an increase that will leave you behind your peers in 2 years. Much less the whole “well, with bonus, you can expect around 15%.”

    • Guest

      My wife used to work for a recruiting company and saw the shady shit that went on over there, sort of like used car salesmen. They post a “dream job” ad and ask you to give them your resume. When you inquire about that “dream job”, then lo and behold, that role has already been filled. Now they have your number and your resume and you can expect even more spam.

      • Babyballz

        Damn! That’s a straight up used car sales tactic! Bait car: post online that your Chrysler/Jeep dealership has a 2012 Camry for $12k. People call, and you say “yup! We still have it.” Then when they show up you say “it JUST got sold, but no worries! I can put you in a new Sebring for the same price!”

        Camry never even existed.

    • Gust

      Maybe there are some good ones. Maybe. My wife’s friend used to live with a recruiter and boy was that an eye-opener. His clients were generically refereed to as “assholes”. He might be the least pleasant person I’ve ever met. They don ‘t care what happens to you as long as they get their cut.

    • Forrest Forrest Gump

      Whenever I am hounded by a recruiter, I always use the opportunity to ask him/her out on a date. There is nothing more fun than some awkward flirting to cut through the cheap sales talk. If they want to find my number and stalk me all day, I take no shame in making things a bit awkward in return. Either they bail instantly, or I have the upper hand in a little game I like to call “quid pro quo”.

      • Babyballz

        Genius. All the recruiters down here are hotties. Pure genius.

        • sludgemonkey

          So is your mom. Known fact.

      • Danny Tanner

        Hahaha awesome

    • Joe Momma

      Recruiters are the scum of this planet…. I’m not trying to buy a used car here, this is my career we’re talking about!!!!

    • Guest

      Best recruiter I’ve ever worked with was a referral and not someone who spammed me. ( I didn’t take the job)

    • Guest

      Good accountants are wooed. They don’t need to call back.

    • RetainedExecutiveSearch

      I too am a recruiter, and like accounting firms, not all recruiters are created equal. Feel free to trash us all day long; just know that there are contingency recruiters (they work for staffing firms like Half, Kforce, etc.) and then there a retained search recruiters. From your comments it is clear that you are talking about contingency recruiters.

      Contingency vs. Retained
      Contingency recruiters are transaction-oriented (i.e., they get paid only if you hire a candidate they present to you). Dialing for dollars and harsh sales tactics is the name of the game. Typically, contingency firms maintain relationships with dozens of companies. When they find a first-rate candidate, they present the hot prospect to as many firms as possible to ensure a successful placement.

      Retained search firms, on the other hand, are consulting-oriented (i.e., they get the same fees no matter how long it takes to find the right candidate). Similar to accountants, lawyers, and architects, retained search firms are hired for their specialized skills.

      Difference in methodology
      On the surface, the only decision appears to be determining how the recruiter gets paid:

       A contingency recruiter earns a fee only when the organization hires someone.

       A retained search consultant is paid in advance to conduct a search that usually results in a hiring.

      There are actually two key differences in how the processes for a retained search and a contingency search are carried out:

      1. A retained search consultant typically works exclusively on the search and is expected to assess all candidates being considered for the position. A retained consultant will never present a candidate to more than one client at a time.

      2. A contingency recruiter usually does not have an exclusive assignment, but instead is in a race against other sources to present a winning candidate. A contingency recruiter often presents attractive candidates to as many clients as possible to ensure a successful placement.

      Contingency recruiters typically work with a large number of job openings and, using a database of known candidates, look for matches on paper. Then, they send those candidates’ resumes—as many as possible—to clients for possible interviews. As such, the contingency search process is geared to identify qualified candidates, but not necessarily the most qualified candidates who could be found if significant research and in-person interviews had been applied to ensure that the hiring organization’s particular needs were filled.

      Who works for whom?
      Another difference between a retained search and a contingency search has to do with exclusivity.

      Retained search consultants spend a lot of time sourcing candidates who are happy and stable with their employers and are not actively seeking other employment. They spend time learning about a potential candidate before picking up the phone to call him/her, then present an opportunity that the candidate would otherwise not be aware of, engage the possible candidate in an informal dialogue, and if the candidate agrees — based on what they know at this point — that the opportunity and the firm are a particular marriage of skill sets, vision, personality, and long-term organizational, personal, and professional goals, the recruiter pursues a follow-up conversation with the candidate during which the recruiter and the candidate open up to one-another. No high pressure car salesman tactics (in most cases; i can’t speak for all of us).

      Retained search recruiters work for the client and will never present candidates to more than one client at a time. Therefore, the client will almost never find himself or herself in a bidding competition for a desirable candidate.

      The nature of contingency recruiting is such that exclusivity is not possible. A contingency recruiter is in a race against others to present candidates. When desirable candidates are found, a contingency recruiter must present them to as many clients as possible to have the greatest chance of making a placement.

      • Guest

        Oh snap. I found your alleged comment below:


        Now I am not sure if you are fishing for people. Or if you are not getting calls back too.

        • disqus_mbkF20E77K

          LOL, good work on the research. Whether it was copy/pasted or the guy’s own words, it still seems like good information to use when receiving these calls.

    • auditeh

      A recruiter is a piece of shit