Should You Use a Recruiter to Change Jobs?

Jun 18

So you're ready to change jobs. Maybe you don't like your boss, you're not earning enough or you've stopped growing in your current position. It's time to dust off your resume and start the hunt.

Or is it?

Wouldn't it be nice if someone else understood your skills, both strengths and weaknesses, then found the perfect open position for you?

Welcome to the world of working with a job recruiter.

What Is a Recruiter? (A.K.A. Headhunter) defines a job recruiter as someone who, "finds qualified candidates for a job opening and works to meet the demands of both the employer and the employee throughout the hiring process."

Recruiters help you expand your job search and understand how you stack up against the competition. Many top-level jobs aren't even advertised!

In this article, we're talking about external recruiters who are working to fill positions in multiple companies (often through a staffing agency), not in-house recruiters working to fill jobs in the company they work for.

How Much Does a Recruiter Cost?

Working with a recruiter won't cost you anything.

Recruiters earn commissions on the positions they fill that the hiring company pays out. The commission, or fee, they earn is known as a placement or recruitment fee.


The recruitment fee is typically calculated based on the first-year salary of the position the recruiter fills. Agencies charge recruiting fees anywhere from 15-25% and they are paid out based on the specific arrangement the recruiter or agency has with that company.

The recruiter's pay does not come out of your salary. It's something the employer plans for ahead of time when they hire a recruiter to fill the position.

Who Should Use a Recruiter?

When you want to change jobs, working with a recruiter may or may not be worth your time. Many people believe recruiters only work with people in senior positions. That's not completely true.

Companies hire recruiters for positions they struggle to fill on their own. Typically, these hard-to-fill positions require very specific or in-demand skillsets, or top-level experience. That's the reason working with a recruiter is more beneficial for highly-experienced workers or individuals looking for top-level roles.

Think about it. Companies easily fill entry-level positions on their own, so they're not going to use recruiters to fill them. That's why recruiters are less likely to benefit you if you're looking for an entry-level position or switching to a new field.


How to Find a Recruiter

  1. Ask friends or colleagues for a referral
  2. Connect with recruiters in your field on Linkedin by searching "recruiter", "recruitment" or "headhunter" in the search bar.
  3. Browse job boards like Monster and Indeed and look at recruiters consistently posting jobs in your field.
  4. Find a staffing agency through the American Staffing Association’s directory and make sure they work in your industry.
  5. Post your resume to your job board profile so recruiters can find you.
  6. Enable the #OpentoWork feature on your Linkedin profile if it's safe for you to share you're changing jobs.

The Process of Finding Work Through a Recruiter

Once you connect with a recruiter, be as professional with the recruiter as you would in a job interview.

If your resume shows you have the experience and skills the role is looking for, the recruiter will likely set up an interview (or multiple interviews) with you to get to know you and your history.

If your interview confirms that you have what the employer is looking for and you are interested in the role, the recruiter will present your resume and details (along with other potential candidates) to the employer for review.

The next step is interviewing with the client. The recruiter will set up the interview and give you feedback after from the client.

The employer will decide who to extend a job offer to and the recruiter helps facilitate all necessary negotiations so both the candidate and employee are satisfied. If the job offer was extended and accepted by another candidate, the recruiter will let you know.


Recruiter Scams to Watch Out For

Like most online industries, the recruiting industry is full of scams.

It serves your best interest to be skeptical of any recruiter that reaches out to you—especially is they promise you the perfect job at a well-known company. Recruiters never ever need your social security number, bank accounts, credit cards or any other highly-sensitive personal information. They need standard employment information like your email, phone number, resume and experience.

Never Count on a Recruiter

In closing, you must know that you should never count on a recruiter to find you a job.

Recruiters aggressively fill positions with the best possible candidates in as little time as possible. They may fill the position they considered you for with someone else and move on. It's your job to find yourself a job—working with recruiters is just one way you can put out more feelers into the job market.

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