Working with a Recruiter

Employers often hire recruiters through an agency to fill positions within their company or organization. Some recruiters also work in house — as HR or hiring managers, for example — to find and train new hires for their employer. Professionals in this field, sometimes called headhunters, may specialize in a particular industry or type of job, such as social worker recruitment. Employers also regularly seek the help of recruiters to hire executives, IT professionals, legal personnel, and sales staff.

Generally, recruiters work for an employer. While they do not answer to job seekers, recruiters do accept resumes from job candidates and try their best to place them in a mutually beneficial position. Many in-house recruiters lead their company’s HR department, holding the responsibility of screening, hiring, and training qualified candidates. On the other hand, independent recruiting agencies often perform contracted services for an employer to fill a particular job.

Companies without functional HR departments may seek recruitment services through an agency, while others simply need to supplement their in-house resources. Professionals including social work recruiters typically take over the sourcing, screening, and interviewing of candidates for their client. Job seekers can also benefit from working with a recruiter, as the process helps streamline a candidate’s path to finding their ideal job.

How Do You Find a Social Work Job with a Recruiter?

Finding Social Work Recruiters

Many recruiters contact job seekers through sites like LinkedIn or Indeed. Job candidates hoping to gain attention from recruiters online should keep their profile on LinkedIn updated and well-written, as well as include endorsements when posting resumes on sites like Indeed, Simply Hired, and Monster. Though rare, a recruiter may try to charge you a fee; however, you should proceed with caution in this case, as recruiters generally receive compensation from employers, not candidates.

Candidates can search for recruiters for free online through sites like LinkedIn. Other free options include asking for recommendations within your professional network. Through networking, representatives from professional organizations in your field can provide feedback or suggestions for their preferred recruiters. Candidates willing to pay a fee to find a recruiter might also consider recruiter directories that provide access for a limited time to a list of recruiters in your specialty.

Always consider the following when entering a working relationship with a job recruiter:

  • Experience: Preferably, a recruiter holds a steady employment record of at least one year in the industry. The more experience a recruiter boasts, the better for you.
  • Placement Record: Beware any resistance from a recruiter to disclose their placement success rate. Walk away if the recruiter’s record fails to impress you.
  • Compensation: You should know whether a recruiter receives payment on contingency or as a retainer. In either case, placing you in a great job should benefit you, the recruiter, and the employer.
  • Connections: For a recruiter, networking on your behalf comes with the job and benefits everyone. Recruiters should boast more connections than you.
  • Method of Contact: Determine whether you both approach communication the same way. If you prefer phone calls or emails, your recruiter should know and prove willing to adapt to your preferences.

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Social Worker Recruitment Agencies

Independent organizations such as social worker recruitment agencies differ in their approach from in-house HR departments. Employers pay recruitment agencies to vet potential candidates for a position within their company, typically compensating the recruiter with a percentage of the new hire’s salary. In rare cases, a recruitment agency offers enough resources to provide aspiring social workers with a group of recruiters, one for each stage of the process of applying and interviewing for a job. However, most candidates work with the same recruiter throughout their job search.

Initial Interview with a Social Work Recruiter

Screening and interviewing potential candidates encompasses a major part of a recruiter’s responsibilities. Recruiters may conduct either phone or in-person interviews, and job seekers should prepare for either type of meeting. When looking for a recruiter, consider someone who shares your approach and attitude during your job search. Developing a rapport in the initial stages of working together proves critical to your partnership.

One cannot overstate the importance of finding a recruiter who understands your career goals. A recruiter can help you find jobs within your field or specialty, in many cases helping you avoid pursuing jobs for which you may not qualify. Tell your recruiter about your long-term career goals — beyond simply finding your next job — and what your ideal working environment, salary, and benefits look like. Professional and experienced recruiters with a good track record make sure you feel heard and use their resources to place you in the right position.

You should feel comfortable talking honestly with your recruiter; however, you should exercise some level of discretion to avoid coming off too candid. Never tell a recruiter out of desperation that they are your last hope or that you are struggling financially and would accept a lower salary than you indicate on your resume.

The Job Interviewing Process

Setting up and going on job interviews through a recruiter differs depending on whether the recruiter works at an agency or in house. As a general rule, recruiters do not coach you on how to succeed in a job interview; however, an external recruiter may offer some suggestions. If you make it to the interview, an external recruiter will likely connect you with the hiring manager; alternatively, an in-house recruiter will likely schedule the interview themselves.

After providing their client with a short list of potential employees, a recruiter often checks references, gives feedback, and weighs in on the final candidates as part of their client’s decision-making process. Recruiters also follow up with clients after job interviews on behalf of the job seeker, keeping candidates informed of the latest developments. While recruiters provide some input on the final decision, employers ultimately make the decisions themselves. Job seekers should keep this in mind and contact their recruiter no more than once a week to check in.

Should You Look for a Social Work Job with a Recruiter?

Advantages of Working with a Recruiter

Aspiring social workers who decide to work with a recruiter note considerable advantages over searching for a job on their own. For starters, the fact that most recruiters receive a commission for their services means an increased incentive to find you the best job offer possible, especially since their cut depends on your salary. Additionally, satisfying their client by providing the right candidate for a job this time means they could earn the client’s business again next time.

Many job seekers also appreciate the time they can save by working with a recruiter in their job search. Recruiters can check their connections to target only the jobs for which you qualify, saving you the hassle of wasting time and energy on applications and interviews that likely won’t work out. Recruiters try to understand exactly what their client needs and seek candidates who match up. Additionally, recruiters’ connections can provide access to specialty positions and employment opportunities in social work not normally available to job seekers.

Potential Disadvantages of Working with a Recruiter

While working with a recruiter helps some job seekers, others see its sizeable disadvantages. Financially, earning their salary on commission means the recruiter fails to get paid if you do not get the job. In these cases, they might encourage you to take a low-paying job offer to make the process of working with you worth their efforts.

A job seeker should also never forget where a recruiter’s priorities lie: with the employer. A recruiter must answer to the needs of their client, not the job seeker, above all else. Candidates should not expect a recruiter to guide their career aspirations or coach them to appear more “hireable” to employers — though some recruiters do offer feedback and suggestions.

Confidentiality between recruiters and their clients also poses a potential issue for job seekers. Recruiters cannot always divulge everything about a position due to limitations set by the employer. For example, when an employer asks a recruiter to interview only female candidates for a position, the recruiter cannot breach their client’s confidentiality.

Tips for Working with a Recruiter in Social Work

  • Thank-You Note: Sending thank-you notes to your recruiter not only conveys your appreciation, but also separates you from your less-courteous competitors.
  • Get to Know Your Recruiter: Developing a pleasant relationship with your recruiter should come naturally. Your rapport with your recruiter can help or hurt your job search.
  • Don’t Seem Overly Eager: While your inclination to send out your resume indiscriminately seems reasonable, consider a more strategic approach to finding your perfect recruiter by targeting professional recruiters in your industry.
  • Dress Professionally: Dressing professionally for your in-person meetings shows your recruiter that you know how to look the part for job interviews. As a general rule, overdressing serves you better than underdressing.

Recruiter FAQs

How Many Times Do You Meet with a Recruiter, on Average?

As part of establishing a working relationship with a recruiter, you can expect to participate in a welcome interview. Within a week, most recruiters can determine whether a candidate suits any of their open positions. Unless otherwise specified, plan to contact your recruiter no more than once a week to follow up.

What Kind of Qualifications Do Recruiters Typically Have?

Many recruiters study HR, marketing, or psychology before entering the profession. Recruitment agencies tend to employ more women than men and require strong customer service and internet skills — along with training and onboarding experience.

Can You Work with Multiple Recruiters at the Same Time?

Working with multiple recruiters can present problems for job seekers; you should disclose your non-exclusivity with each recruiter, keeping track of notifications and updates from each contact.

What Are the Signs of a Good Recruiter?

Top recruiters prioritize organization and professionalism and possess exceptional communication skills. Your recruiter should always keep you informed any time they submit your resume, updating you on progress throughout your job search.

What Are the Signs of a Substandard Recruiter?

Substandard recruiters give themselves away by acting uninterested or indifferent to your needs. You should never feel pressure to take a bad offer, find your resume spammed to an email list, or be asked to lie on your resume.