When Your Recruiter is a “Rookie”

Yeah, the phone rings and it is an enthusiastic recruiter. Brilliant! I am enthused too and I am keen to hear what the caller has to offer, but as it turns out, my new contact has lots of question and no genuine job opportunity. And to make things worse, I realise pretty soon that my new recruiter is also a “rookie” because she asked some bizarre questions to prove that she knows her “people” stuff.  I am not kidding – these two questions gave it away:

  •  “If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?” and     “Does life fascinate you?”


I was tempted to give her a good dose of my fascination as I was just coming to grips with my situation of unemployment as a result of an unexpected redundancy. However, I knew better and so I played along. Let me tell you why.


I figured that her Manager knows that his first job is to get this rookie “to score” by getting her on the phone.  If the new recruiter does not get enough “scores”, then she will most likely fail.  So, why not help her score?  I also thought that scoring with my CV and my experience might be a great start for her and a good job for me.


Contrary to popular belief, even with today’s social media, resume grabbers, aggregators, spider engines, job board alerts, and much more at our finger tips today, recruiting is still a phone business.  Recruiting is a sales gig first and then, at a later stage, an involved process managed by experienced professionals. I decided to play along and developed a relationship with her. I answered all her questions and I provided some direction and clarity around my job seeker objectives.  I am not a $300,000 p.a. salary CEO and even if I was, I don’t believe that attitude or highbrow disrespect has ever landed anyone a job. She learned something, I gained a new contact and we developed a relationship. We both got something out of this. You never know, next time there might be a real job.


So, if you encounter one of these “rookies”, take a deep breath and play along. You are worth what you negotiate and that’s what this recruiting game is all about.

You could be contacted by any of these 5 types of recruiters or a maybe even a Headhunter and it helps to know who you are dealing with, so I suggest that you start your next “rookie” call by asking which of these categories your recruiter works in. They might have different category titles and they could also use “boutique” names. Either way, it helps to work out how they earn their money!


The Contingency Recruiter

A contingency recruiter is the most common type of recruiter service in Australia and New Zealand. These recruiters work for a client company and the company pays the recruiter only when a hire (or placement) is made.

A contingency recruiter typically specializes in a particular industry, or works in a particular geographic area. I suggest that you always keep this in mind when you are contacted by this type of recruiter.  There’s no point in wasting your and his/her time when the areas of expertise do not match.

A good contingency recruiter is very well networked in their specialty.  Remember that if they don’t have a position for you right away, work to make a good impression nonetheless.  When they hear of an opening in their space, the recruiter will reach out to their network to see who is potentially interested in you as a good candidate.


The Retained Recruiter

Unlike a contingency recruiter, a retained recruiter is paid up front by the client company. The retained recruiter will have a very strong relationship with the company, and so while they often only present you with one potential job, they’re working with you because they think you are a strong candidate for the position.  In this case, you need to work hard and fast and deliver to the best of your ability to land the job.


The Contract Staffing Recruiter

A contract staffing recruiter hires “contractors”, that is job-seekers or candidates who work on an hourly basis (generally) for a client company to complete a project.  The recruiter and the contractors build strong relationships because the contractors know their relationships with any one client will last for a limited time.


The client pays the recruiter based on the hours a contractor works.  The contractor turns in their time card each week to the recruiter and the Contract Staffing Recruiter pays the contractor their wages. There are a few very good Agencies out there and I will cover them in a future blog post.


The Outplacement Recruiter

An outplacement recruiter provides placement assistance to candidates who have been downsized.  I hate that lingo – trust me – but it is a reality and we have to have professionals who know how to deal with that. The fee for placement assistance is paid by the company that downsized the candidate. Many outplacement recruiter services also provide resume, interviewing, and career coaching assistance. These services are usually paid for by the company.


The In-House Recruiter

An in-house recruiter works for one company and is part of that company’s HR team.  This is who you’ll most likely interface with if you are actively conducting your job–seeker search.  Even if you connect directly with the Hiring Manager, you should keep the in-house recruiter in the loop. Don’t burn bridges before you start a potential new job.


The Headhunter

“Headhunter” is an industry term for a third-party recruiter who seeks out candidates, often when normal recruitment efforts have failed. The term Headhunter is very 80’s and also has a bit of a dodgy connotation, but headhunting is reality, they just use different names or titles. It is also very unlikely that a Headhunter Agency will ask a “rookie” to contact you.


Headhunters are usually employed to fill senior management and executive level roles. Headhunters are also used to recruit very specialized individuals. For example, in some fields, such as the struggling print industry, there may only be a handful of top-level professionals who are active in the field.  In this case, since there are so few qualified candidates, it makes more sense to directly recruit them one-by-one, rather than advertise for candidates. I strongly suggest that you apply all your common sense and that you fine tune your radar when you feel that you are approached by a Headhunter. Take your time and ask the right questions and don’t give away too much. You could ruin an existing career or job – so be careful and wise.



A job seeker cannot hire a headhunter to find them a job – the headhunter always seeks out the candidate – so don’t be silly to offer a big premium for a placement.


 Hunt wisely!