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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Jerry1 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:02 pm

For a particular PhD-level position at company X in which you do not have a specific network and are coming from a postdoc in academia, is it better to apply for that position online OR apply via a recruiter which has company X as a client??

For their self-interest (commission) the recruiter will say never to apply to a company in which they have as a client and let them present you. Recruiters seem to get upset if they represent you and you have already applied on your own and did not tell them. In this case, they don't get any $ if you're hired (are maybe embarassed and maybe lose trust in you for future opportunities), but maybe (or not) it is good for company to here about you from both a recruiter and their own efforts??
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:04 pm

I'm going to go out on the limb a little bit, but ....

I would think that going through the recruiter CAN be the better way to go, provided certain conditions are met. One of those conditions is obviously the type of relationship the recruiter has with the company. If the recruiter is just someone that's running a "body shop" (a term I heard many years ago), and the company reps try to hide whenever he comes around, then he might not be too helpful. If it's someone that has a good working relationship with the client, though, they're going to be more inclined to consider his referels.

The main benefit of going this route would come if the recruiter takes the time to get to know you and see if you would be a fit for the job. The on-line application is just going to sit there unless someone happens to find it. The recruiter has the opportunity to tell the client "I think you should take a look at this guy." People will almost always take something that comes recommended by someone they trust over something that they don't know anything about.

By the way, I understand that a big reason recruiters don't like having multiple applications hit the company is precisely because it does screw up their compensation process. That's probably a major reason they often like to place people from other organizations who weren't actively seeking new employment.
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:06 pm

Hi Jerry,

You need to know first what kind of client relationship that firm has with the company you are interested in. Have they been retained to fill the slot you are interested in, or are they working on an exclusive basis with the firm in filling entry level (new PhD slots) positions? The problem is that most recruiting firms will simply say that "yes, they are a client" when you ask about any company. While it is OK and a good thing to have their support in representing you to a hiring manager who has actually asked them for help in filling a position, it is NOT GOOD to let some run-of-the-mill recruiting firm "present your credentials" (in other words, mail your CV with a big bounty attached to it).

Unless the company is known to be an exclusive resource, go in yourself via networking and employee referral, or (a far second) through their website.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
"One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action." - Lewis Howes
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Jerry1 » Tue Mar 28, 2006 4:56 pm

Thanks Rich and Dave. Dave, would it be appropriate to ask this specific recruiter (which I believe is not run-of-the-mill, but I may be wrong here), to only represent and present me only to these exclusive clients for positions that are not advertised?? I imagine generally that for most entry-type positions (PhD), that there would be little incentive for a company to pay the bounty versus using their own resources to find the gem of a hire from the hordes out there.
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:08 pm

Jerry,

Here's advice that comes directly from a recruiter (me!) . . . Don't bother. Why would you do this, when something like less than 2% of hires for PhD entry level positions come from recruiters? Why not court the other 98%? It appears to me that you are looking for some kind of miracle job search process that doesn't require any work on your part. It would be a fallacy to assume that such an approach even exists for a new PhD.

Sure, keep the relationship going and have them present you to companies where they are working exclusively on something that is not advertised, but geez . . . why walk around with a $20,000 bounty on your head when there are enough good candidates out there who are actually meeting and talking with company employees, or entering their H/R system via the web?

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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Jerry1 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:52 pm

I bring this general issue up in part because within the same day, I received first a phone call interview from a company about a specific position that I networked hard for (I don’t think this is a ‘miraculous job search process that doesn’t require any work’, quite contraire) AND from a recruiter who I have an informal relationship. In this specific case, the recruiter lost to networking. My original question did not assume I am mainly pursuing either online- or recruiter-based strategies; rather they represent alternative, perhaps outlier methods, to consider in one’s job hunt repertoire. This forum is excellent in discussing the most effective (and complementary) job-hunting strategies.
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Derek McPhee » Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:01 pm

I think the forum responses in this thread have indicated that indeed they are complimentary strategies of different "weight" depending on where you are in your career. For a new Ph.D. the recruiter route is virtually useless because of the recruiter's bounty, which from a company's point of view, puts you a a substantial disadvantage compared to your networking peers (unless of course you have a very, very unique background and the knowledgeable recruiter can put you in front if the company seeking that skillset, which in that case is probably willing to pay the premium to get those skills). Obviously for more senior positions recruiters do fill an important role.
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:13 pm

D. J. said, "Obviously for more senior positions recruiters do fill an important role."

That's for sure . . . I wouldn't want to be looking for a manager/director level job in a company without the help of a good recruiter or two!

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"One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action." - Lewis Howes
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Rob » Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:29 pm

Could you explain how the recruiter works in this fashion and how someone would find out how to contact the correct ones? It would help people of different levels that came here for information I would think.
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Apply Online vs. Recruiter

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:40 pm

Bob,

Here's a piece of an article that I wrote recently for startup company managers, on the difference between recruiting organizations. Perhaps it will tell you a bit more about recruiters. Keep in mind, however, that headhunters do NOT generally help PhD's find entry level positions. They will always SAY THEY DO, but in reality, they don't. So it is a real easy trap to fall into.

Retained or Contingency Search Partners (WRITTEN FOR THE HIRING MANAGER): Using an outside search firm is simply a process of taking the networking approach and adding someone else’s network to yours. And not just any network, but one that is managed by a person who is paid to maintain it. Therefore, while it is the most costly way to hire, it is also undoubtedly the one that has the highest level of success for senior management or hard-to-find specialty technical jobs.

It’s a crowded market; recruitment consultants seem to be on every corner, and many of them describe biotechnology as one of their special industries. One rule of selection in this crowded marketplace: never, ever, go to a firm that isn’t specialized in your industry. Every recruiter, commissioned salespeople who can melt butter on your toast with just a few words, will tell you that he or she “specializes” in the area of your search. Don’t take this to heart . . . discuss their history and past experience in your niche. A few minutes on the phone going over your area of interest and you’ll know if that person truly works on your turf.

But what about the “retained” versus “contingency” question? In today’s world, there are good firms on either side of that fence. Some of them will ask you for a deposit on the search and bill the remainder when the work is complete. Others will want three regular payments, scheduled whether the position gets filled or not. Lastly, contingency recruiters won’t charge you a darn thing until they have filled the job. That can sound very tempting . . . when you are starting a new business, hanging onto every nickel until you need to spend it makes sense. Just remember that in order to survive as a contingency recruiter, those firms need to have a dozen speculative projects going at any one time. Your position will be one of those. Alternately, the retained firms will commit dedicated hours to get the project done.

- written for the hiring manager, by Dave Jensen, Moderator
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