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Is It Better to Work with a Job Recruiter or Apply Directly?

Job searching can be an overwhelming endeavor that is time-consuming and stressful. To aid in a search, job seekers are often tempted to hire a headhunter or job recruiter to assist in finding a new job, particularly when the economy is shaky or poor, and unemployment rates are high. Ultimately, a job seeker must compare the pros and cons of using headhunters/job recruiters to see if their circumstances warrant hiring a recruiter.

The pros. Headhunters and job recruiters can provide many benefits to job seekers. First, is the career guidance support. A talented headhunter or job recruiter can assess a job seeker's salary needs, career goals, and financial situation and determine what jobs are suitable for the job seeker to apply to. Some argue that headhunters or job recruiters will limit their search parameters for a client. However, as headhunters especially earn based on getting a job seeker gainfully employed, such job hunting specialists are very creative in figuring out job paths that job seekers never realized they could pursue. Remember, headhunters and job recruiters often do not get paid unless they find their clients work, so they are highly motivated, usually, to turn over every stone to find a good job for a client. Given that many job hunting specialists are genuinely motivated to help professionals find their ideal job, a job seeker can usually count on a headhunter or job recruiter being fully invested in searching for a new job.

Résumé support. Many headhunters and job recruiters have training (and even certifications) in résumé and cover letter writing. Such a skill set will often lead to the headhunter helping a job seeker create a standout résumé for use moving forward, even beyond working with a job-hunting specialist.

The job field. Headhunters and job recruiters provide other pros worth considering. In particular, they often are familiar with job markets not accessed by online search engines or covered in newspapers. These hidden job markets are often overlooked, which delays job seekers from finding work, limiting their access to the jobs with the best pay and benefits. Further, job hunting specialists often develop connections with different employers and are often directly contacted by companies seeking a shortlist of potential candidates to interview. For an employer, working with a headhunter or job recruiter they trust increases their chances of finding good, vetted employees without the cost of advertising and high turnovers. For a job seeker, the headhunter or job recruiter could help them get on such shortlists.

The cons. Headhunters and job recruiters are not always a bargain for job seekers. First, these job hunting specialists are self-motivated to help others find employment to earn a salary. Some headhunters are looking to find jobs quickly at the expense of finding the position best suited to their client's interests and skills. Why? Because they would often get paid until a job seeker gets a new job. Job hunting specialists' fees may not increase based on the amount a job pays a client, so they will not be motivated to find the best-paying job positions or negotiate with an employer for a higher salary. Additionally, regarding résumé and job search guidance, if the headhunter or job recruiter hired is not highly skillful, a job seeker may end up getting lousy résumé and career search guidance that will negatively impact a job seeker moving forward.

Investigate. There's no easy answer here as headhunters, and job recruiters can be a blessing or a curse. Headhunters and job recruiters are likely a great idea for job seekers who have long searched with no luck in even landing an interview. That said, thoroughly check out a job-hunting specialist before hiring them. What are their fees? Are they trained in résumé writing? Interview them and see if they genuinely care about clients finding the best job possible. Lastly, ask them for references from past clients while also searching for reviews online.

Are you a recruiter or a job seeker? Check out the job listings on!


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