Working With Personnel Counselors and Recruiters

In the professional world, there are several basic ways you can get hired: international law firms in bangkok

1. Personal initiative: You send your resume in response to an online job posting or newspaper ad or hand it to a corporate representative at a career fair.

2. Personal referral: A friend or relative alerts you to a job opening with their employer. Employers often reward the referring employee when you are hired so make certain that you fill in the application line, “Referred by____” completely.

3. Personnel Agency, Personnel Counselor or Staffing Services: A personnel counselor recruits a job order from a company and then either matches the job order to an existing candidate OR advertises online or in newspapers for that candidate. A personnel counselor does NOT call you at work to recruit you for a job-that is the principle difference between a personnel counselor and a recruiter. A counselor has to wait for you to make the first contact while a recruiter does not.

4. In most states, a personnel counselor is NOT allowed to take a fee from you (the candidate) but always verify that BEFORE you go on the interview. Until 1982 in California, a personnel agency could charge the candidate as well as the company a fee for the placement and thus split the fee between the two. That has changed. In 2009, many agencies state up front in their advertising and on their web sites that they are 100% employer paid.

5. Personnel agencies, such as Snelling Staffing, Abbott Staffing Group, and Apple One, usually have both a store front and an online corporate web site on which they post jobs. You can search for jobs next door or in the next state.

6. Recruiters and Headhunters: “Recruiter” and “headhunter” are interchangeable terms for a person who not only recruits job orders from companies but also actively recruits candidates through personal phone calls and e-mails. Recruiters are 95% paid by the corporate client, not by you, but it is always wise to verify.

The Ground Rules:

A personnel counselor waits for you to walk in the door. He or she matches you up with a job order that he or she already has or finds a job that fits your specifications. If the person does not understand what you do now or what you want to do in your next job, it will be very difficult to make a job match. Therefore, be willing to educate this personnel counselor on your career field, the intricacies of your job, and the type of company you would like to join.

A recruiter or headhunter is hired by a corporation to find exactly the person the company needs. Most recruiters are hired for their sales abilities. A few agencies hire someone with extensive experience in a field (e.g., electrical engineering) and teach him or her how to recruit and place candidates (like you). Because recruiters know the field, they can tell whether the candidate is “blowing sunshine up their skirts” or if the candidate actually knows the subject.

Rule 1: It is really OK to talk to a recruiter, even if he or she calls you at work — just don’t…

1. Exclaim joyfully that you are happy to be recruited.
2. Denigrate your current boss or organization in any way.


1. Give the headhunter your cell or pager number or your e-mail. If you have none of the above OR your only e-mail is corporate, then give your home phone number.

2. If you only have a work e-mail, get a personal e-mail at any of the free sites such as Yahoo. If your private e-mail address is not professional using a hotmail account with a funny name, then now is the time to register for an additional e-mail. Employers judge you on any number of levels and one is your e-mail address. Is it serious or flippant? Those who are perceived as flippant rarely get interviews.

3. The recruiter should ask for a good time to call you or may ask, “Is 7 PM a good time to call you?” You can answer by saying “earlier” or “later” until you agree on a time. The fact that this recruiter sought you out should be taken as a compliment.

4. A friend who has been placed by this recruiter may earn a referral fee of $200-1000 if they refer you to the recruiter and you are placed in a new job. If you like your recruiter, remember to ask after you are placed if there is a referral fee. If there is, refer your friends to the recruiter. Your friend will never know you referred them unless you give the recruiter permission to tell or you tell your friend.

Rule 2: Never assume that the recruiter actually knows what you do — let alone the nuances of what you do. Explain what you do in small words and slowly since this person is probably taking notes.

Here is an example of the process of informing the recruiter. In 1999 during an Internet-based job hunt, Jerry, who is a UNIX systems administrator posted his resume, responded to job postings, and investigated technical job hunting web sites (such as DICE) on weekends. During the weekdays, he had the glorious opportunity to return calls to headhunters. (Quick side note: While it’s cute having your 5-year-old twins tape the outgoing message on your home answering machine, that message is not what you want a recruiter or prospective new employer to hear first. Record a professional message on your home phone as well as your cell phone. Once you’re hired, the twins can come back and record another outgoing message.)

At least half of the recruiters presented jobs that had nothing to do with UNIX in any way, shape, or form. Another 48 percent assumed that a UNIX systems administrator with AIX working on an RS/6000 was also absolutely brilliant on Sun Solaris right now. He wasn’t.The last 2 percent were willing to actually listen to Jerry, find out what he knew and didn’t know, and then — lo and behold — actually present him to jobs for which he was qualified. However, Jerry had to spend time educating each interested recruiter. One way was to send an e-mail cover letter of Jerry’s career and education highlights. (Why? Recruiters and personnel counselors present you to the potential employer by using three bullet points of your accomplishments. If you give the recruiter this sales pitch, it makes it much easier to place you.) Jerry sent six bullet points and let the recruiter pick the three most applicable to that job posting. This effort paid off: the recruiter knew how to present Jerry to his best advantage, and Jerry eventually got the job at a 25 percent salary increase over his previous job.

Rule 3: The theory on what to put into the cover letter accompanying your Internet resume is:

1. Keep the cover letter as short as possible so that it fits on one screen of a computer monitor without having to scroll down.
2. Use bullets.
3. Care for your personnel counselor or headhunter by giving them short sentences about your education and accomplishments which they can use as a sales pitch when they present you to the company. The easier you make it for them, the more they will be willing to work for you!

Here’s an example:

My name is Jerry W——.

I am responding to your job posting for a UNIX Systems Administrator. Briefly my career includes, but is not limited to: