Recruiters and Candidates

Do recruiters treat you as a “necessary evil”? So begins the article, “10 Ways in Which Recruiters Annoy Candidates,” by Roger Emmens. On the surface, it seems like the relationship between recruiters and prospective candidates should be symbiotic. Recruiters can’t make that big, fat commission check without candidates. But in reality, the recruiter relationship can often feel contentious … for many of the reasons Mr. Emmens states.

At the heart of the matter though, I think there are two core reasons why recruiters often annoy candidates:

Candidates don’t understand how recruiters work

Many CFOs have worked with recruiters in the past … when the company was hiring and a recruiter was used to source candidates. It is quite different when the CFO is the candidate working with a recruiter or recruiters.

What is important to remember is that recruiters don’t find people jobs. Rather, they find the right person to fill the specific job requisition within the parameters the company has established. The difference may seem subtle, but it is an important distinction.

Recruiters get paid by the company not the candidate. If you aren’t a good fit for a job req a recruiter currently has open, in all likelihood you won’t hear anything from him. However, if you do get a “thanks but no thanks” call, it might be a relationship worth cultivating for the future.


Many candidates, and particularly very busy executives, don’t give recruiters a thought when they are busy doing their jobs. Rather than building those necessary relationships before they need them, candidates wait until they “need” a job. Can you guess how many active job seekers recruiters hear from on a daily basis? Unfortunately, it gives the recruiter all the power while leaving the candidate … desperate.

Conversely, establishing a strong relationship with recruiters while you don’t need – or want – anything from them, can make working with them when you do need a job much less annoying.

Having a compelling profile on Linked In is a great way to get recruiters to reach out to you … particularly as a passive candidate with significant power and positioning.

While you, as a candidate, can’t control whether a recruiter is unprofessional or rude, understanding how they work and building relationships before you need them might help make a potentially prickly relationship a little less, maybe even a lot less, annoying.

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2 thoughts on “Recruiters and Candidates”

  1. Cindy,

    Thank you for pointing out the sometimes difficult relationship CFOs have with recruiters, and some important thoughts for CFOs to keep in mind when working with recruiters.

    I would love to hear about the frustrations the CFOs you deal with face when dealing with recruiters.

    One thing I would like to point out to your readers is that there is a difference between Executive Search and Recruitment.

    In Executive Search, the specialist looking to fill the position works on the mandate exclusively and gets paid up front. This requires him or her to be completely dedicated to the company, not work on competing mandates at the same time, and shows that the company is serious about filling the position because they have already paid for it.

    On the other hand Recruitment has none of these attributes. In this case, the recruiter will have competition from other recruiters, will only get paid if they fill the position, and the company has no commitment to hire, so they can always decide not to hire.

    Real CFOs need to ensure that in any potential opportunity presented to them that they assess whether the person approaching them is a CFO Search specialist or a Recruiter. When a CFO commits to only working with an Executive Search specialist, they are protecting their personal brand and ensuring they are not wasting their time. Choosing to work with a Recruiter increases the opportunities for frustration and can lead to serious impact on the CFOs personal brand.

    CFOs have a choice.

    Samuel Dergel, CPA, CA, CPC
    Dergel CFO Search & Consulting

    • Most excellent points, Samuel. And candidates will sometimes see “Executive Search” as “Retained Recruiters” while “Recruitment” can be “Contingency Recruiters.” I think it’s ALWAYS incumbent upon candidates to ask the recruiter the right questions to elicit that information. And, to NEVER release a resume to a contingency recruiter without the caveat to NEVER forard it without the candidate’s knowledge and approval … in order to protect his brand!

      We really could have a long conversation around recruiters and CFOs, couldn’t we Samuel. Hmmm … maybe a tweet chat? And I’m working on getting you that information you want!


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