How Do I Work With A Recruiter?

Recruiters have known for the last several years that the new job norm is going to be contracting. There have been thousands of jobs lost in the economic downturn, ones that will not come back as full-time, salaried positions with full benefits. Many of these positions will be replaced with contracts — short-term, long-term, ongoing. Each state has laws pertaining to use of contractors and legal contract length before renewal, so find out what your state’s laws are before you commit to contracting.

Why Use A Recruiter?

Recruiters may have insider leads on contracting positions that are not posted and never will be posted. There are some industries, such as clinical research, that will only post their contracting opportunities with recruiters and only accept resume submissions from recruiters.

Recruiters may provide you with a benefits package that they will partially subsidize. This can include health and life insurance, long-term and short-term disability insurance, 401k, vacation and sick days, a company car and a laptop and an expense account. Otherwise, you may have to buy all of these on your own, and single person policies for health and life insurance can get quite expensive.

Recruiters do the legwork for you. They will collect all required application documents from you such as resumes, licenses, Continuing Education Units certificates, and submit them to the hiring company for you. They will arrange and sometimes pay for background checks and drug testing. Beware: Some recruiters will submit you as a candidate for a position without telling you, especially if they pulled your resume from a search engine database such as Monster or CareerBuilder.

Recruiters typically also have insider information on the hiring managers and the supervisors. They know what these people are looking for, how they interview, what questions they will ask, how their questions are related, and what answers they will expect. The hiring managers who develop strong relationships with the recruiters they use will often tell them about company issues that may affect the job for which you are submitted such as funding problems, new funding strategies or changes that will happen in the future for this position. A good recruiter will brief you with all of this information before sending you on an interview.

Reliable recruiting firms will also have legal representation on retainer to clarify gray areas of your work contract and to help out if sticky legal matters arise in the process of fulfilling your contract obligations. This can save you a great deal of money should you need the legal help.

What Should You Look For?

Search online for recruiting agencies that specialize in your career area. Try to talk with a recruiter BEFORE you give them your resume. Your resume is like gold to them, and once you submit it, they have it forever. Eventually, when the job market gets back up to speed, they will be constantly calling you regarding new positions for you or leads on new candidates if you are not available. You may even get a referral bonus if they hire someone you recommended, which may offset the annoyance of frequent calls.

What Should You Ask?

Find out if the recruiting agency submits your information to a hiring manager without telling you first. Reputable recruiters will try to contact you first. Request that the recruiter do so if you want to control where your resume goes.

Ask which companies the recruiting agency works with in your career field. **This is important to find out in the initial stages, as some agencies cannot tell you the company to which you are being submitted until the company asks to interview you. If there is a company to which you do not want to be submitted such as a previous employer or a company with known ethics violations, indicate this upfront to the recruiter once you decide to work with that recruiting agency.

Determine if the recruiting agency offers a benefits package and how it works. Will they give you a business cell phone, and if so, how much of the bill will they cover? If you have many work-related expenses, find out how the reimbursement process works. Is it easy? How long does it take? Do you have to learn new software to submit your expenses for reimbursement? Is the software reliable? Will you need original receipts? If your contract ends, will you have insurance coverage until you pick up another contract with them?

Do you need professional liability insurance? Which type and how much?

Will you have to sign a non-compete clause that goes into effect when the contract ends? A non-compete clause limits your ability to move on to work for the company’s competitors or in a particular career area for a specified number of years. Many states such as California have declared non-compete clauses illegal, as they can cripple a person’s ability to develop his or her career. Find out if they are illegal in your state before you sign one.

Can you work several contracts at once? Many companies and recruiters will discourage this, as they want you to be flexible and available for whatever hours you will be needed.

Other Considerations

You can, and probably should, submit your resume to more than one recruiting agency. Here’s why: Not every recruiting agency in your career field has recruiting contracts with every company looking for people such as you. Recruiters do not like it when you submit to several agencies for obvious reasons: you are not their sole “property.” Other recruiters can submit you to the same job first, and then the first recruiter does not get the recruiting fee. You do not have to tell the recruiter that your resume is with other agencies, but he or she may find out. This may not hurt you if you are a stellar contractor; it may just force the recruiter to be quicker to submit you first.

Remember: If you contract with more than one recruiting agency, you may want to set up and pay for your own benefits package, so you don’t lose insurance and other benefits when you move on to a new contract with a different recruiting agency. Make sure that if you are required to work specific hours for each contract, that you have it in writing so that your contract hours do not conflict.

A recruiting agency should not charge you a recruiting fee. The agency gets paid a percentage of whatever your services cost the company, and they get paid by the company. The percentage does not come out of your earnings.

If you decide to contract for one recruiting agency, benchmark your contracting salary each time you sign a new contract. This means checking the offered pay against “the going rate” for a person with your skills and experience. There are salary calculators on the Internet that have picked up on the contracting trend, and you should be able to find contracting pay at these sites to compare with your offers: Salary.com, Salaryexpert.com and Payscale.com.

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