is it better to apply through a recruiter or directly with the employer?

A reader writes:

What do you think of applying for a job through a recruiter versus applying to the company directly? What are the pros and cons? I have been contacted by a recruiter regarding a “confidential” position, but it wasn’t hard to figure out the identity of the company in question. As it turns out, I was already aware of this job posting and was planning to apply when the recruiter contacted me. As an applicant, what is the best route for me?

I’m going to give you a lukewarm, indecisive answer, partly because I’m kind of groggy right now and partly because my stance on this is lukewarm and indecisive.

Because I come to it from the hiring manager side of things, I generally think that you’re better off applying to the company directly and dealing with the employer firsthand, on the assumption that they know their needs best and are less likely to be prone to mistakes about fit (its presence or lack). But on the other hand, recruiters can sometimes give you inside info that an employer might be less likely to give you — about your competition, about the salary range, what they’re really looking for and why, etc.

Of course, there are a lot of bad recruiters out there (just check out the recruiters section of the archives here), but there are also plenty of good ones. But if you go the recruiter route, you want to make sure you’re dealing with a good one.

All of which leads to me to … I don’t really have strong feelings one way or the other. If it were me, I’d apply directly, but I’m sure someone can make an argument on the other side too.

Anyone want to weigh in with a more definite opinion on this than the one I have?

{ 72 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah E. Welch*

    I would apply directly. If you apply directly, you’ll be cheaper to hire than someone that came through the recruiter–because of the recruiting fee. This can be significant (sometimes into the tens of thousands of dollars). When choosing between two similar applicants, the company will probably go with the cheaper one. Also, applying directly demonstrates more specific interest in this company, rather than just someone that the recruiter found.

    I’d try for the best of both worlds–work your network for inside information at this company & apply directly.

  2. Rob*

    I just got hired by an employer that uses a recruiting firm – however I went through the employer directly.

    The employer is still likely paying fees to the recruiting firm, since they handled all of the drug testing, and handle all of the payroll and other associated items. So while the recruiting firm is not getting a cut of my initial salary, they are still getting paid.

    All that being said, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the OP’s question. I think that if you find the company’s job posting, you should go ahead and apply that way. I think it shows initiative, instead of relying on the recruiting firm to get you your leads (if it was a headhunter, that is a different situation).

    Good luck, and let us know how everything goes!

  3. sewere*

    Based on my experience, recruiters tend to be able to actually get one’s resume in front of the hiring manager and usually are able to get one interview in a fairly short amount of time. That’s the reason why myself or all my friends who use recruiters do use them. I feel like one has already made it to the shortlist when contacted by a recruiter versus applying online, going through the applicant tracking system and against all the other candidates.

    1. ITforMe*

      I agree. Recruiters are pretty shady, even the good ones, but they will be aggressive and keep things moving as close as possible to “candidate time”.

      If you have some way to get your resume in the hiring manager’s hands, I would do that, but the fact of the matter is that applying to the company directly does NOT do that. Rather, it gets it in the hands of some HR person who may or may not know what the position is really like.

    2. Vicki*

      This has been my experience as well.

      Also, at least for “temporary” (i.s. “contractor”) positions, the recruiters are often the only people who have access to these jobs. FTE jobs may be posted on the company’s web site, but “contract” positions are not (at least not in my field, which is software.)

      Going through a recruiter is like buying a house through a realtor. You could just drive around town looking for For Sale signs, but the recruiters have a list of available “properties” you don’t have access to.

    3. Hari*

      Agreed. I feel like you already have an “in” with a recruiter. Since a recruiter’s job is to put resumes in front of a hiring manager you skip the risk of being overlooked by the internal recruiters sifting through countless resumes. I was also able to skip the standard phone interview and was brought straight in for an in-person interview (which I feel I excel at far more). Plus you have someone who is in consistent contact with HR their so they are checking in for you on the status without yourself coming across as needy or pushy.

  4. Anonymous*

    Just going from my own experiences, I would apply directly with the company. I had an experience with a recruiter who submitted me for a temporary position. They rejected me due to not having experience with booking travel for candidates. Two months later I saw the position open on the company’s site and and applied again. I got a call back for an interview. I did a phone screen and an in person interview but I guess never made the cut. I never heard back from them and the position’s still up. I guess they’re still search

  5. Anonymous*

    they’re still searching.* Whoops!

    But again, my experience with recruiters/staffing agencies has never been overwhelmingly positive either.

  6. Kay*

    I was recently faced with this same question but I had already applied directly with the company before finding it posted with an employment agency the very same day. It was a pretty unique position, so it wasn’t difficult to figure out that it was the same position. I ended up contacting the employment agency as well.

    I had a phone interview directly with the company, but things didn’t progress beyond that point. The employment agency told me that they ended up hiring internally.

    Was it a bad move to apply through both? As someone else mentioned, I thought the employment agency might be better able to get my resume noticed (turns out I didn’t have a problem with that) and I was willing to take the pay cut that would come along with going through the agency.

    1. David Gaspin*

      In general, I think it’s a good idea to choose one plan of attack vs. both. If you apply both directly and through a recruiter, that can potentially lead to a battle over whether the recruiter would be owed a fee should you get hired. In this situation, unless you’re the only viable candidate, you have a good chance of getting passed over solely to avoid any controversy between the employer and the agency.

      Both routes have their merit. If you apply directly, you’re a cheaper hire and therefore more appealing. However, if you apply through a recruiter you know that you have someone championing for your candidacy (in most agency relationships the recruiter only gets paid if his/her candidate is hired.)

      I wouldn’t try double-dipping though.

      1. IV*

        + 1.

        Another couple of points I considered when deciding if to go via a recruiter was:
        a) interview advice on glassdoor- anything to indicate that employer’s preferences for direct vs. recruiter lead hiring?

        b) my comfort level negotiating salary- when I moved countries the role I accepted was found via a recruiter- there was a 15K difference in the pay package between the role they negotiated and a similar one I found for myself!

      2. LK*

        I just came across this thread and you seem knowledgeable about this…. I just got a call from a recruiter about a marketing job and she read me some of the job description. Based on the exact wording she used, I’m pretty sure I already applied to the job last week (and got no response). Should I tell the recruiter my suspicions?

    2. Mep*

      I was on the same boat. I applied for this one position with a major corporation last month. Two weeks after applying, I got a phone call from a recruiter for that same position. When she asked me if I applied via another recruiting firm, I told her, “no, BUT…” and told her that I applied directly to the website.

      Will I hear back from the corporation? I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t. Will I hear back from the recruiter? After emailing her a week later…I don’t think the corporation wants to hire me.

      Another note, I was contacted by another recruiter from that same recruiting company for that exact same position….I chose to pass on the position for other reasons. At least I got some entertainment out of that position…

  7. Anonymous*

    I tend to find you get more accurate feedback if you go through the agency than directly. This has however led to receiving odd comments back after interview.

    I would however use the system of ‘first aware of’ personally. I’ve had odd issues in the past when the companies receive two separate applications for me!

    1. Kimberlee*

      I like this approach best, because it’s the only one that seems completely upright. Like, some recruiters are jerks, sure, but if you got the job posting from them, they should get credit. But if you knew about the job beforehand and suspected the recruiter was showing you the same one, then there’s no particular reason that they recruiter should get a fee for matching candidate to position, because that would have happened anyway.

  8. Harry*

    Go direct whenever possible. The only exception are high level executive positions which are often left to recruiters to source. I’m sure there are recruiters that charge by one time fee or hourly as what happened to my wife.

    She went through a recruiter and found a contractor position. She was paid $35/hr which she thought was pretty good. After she was hired, she inadvertently came across documents online which detailed her hiring and the recruiter was pocketing $20/hr for the life of her contract! Had she go direct, she may have received anywhere up to $50/hr!

    1. Ellen M.*

      This is not how reputable recruiters work – the money they get paid comes from the employer 100%, not out of the hired person’s pocket or salary or wages. How much they get usually is based on a percentage of the hired person’s salary, but it doesn’t come out of that person’s salary; the salary is used to compute how much they get.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yeah sure, but if the company has a $50k budget for the position, and they have to pay $10k to the recruiter, guess how much they’re going to offer the new hire? Technically, they’re not paying it out of the new employee’s salary, but that technicality doesn’t really make any difference in the end

    2. Charles*

      Harry, I am a bit confused when you say she found a “contractor” position – who was actually paying her? The agency or the company? It sounds like your wife’s situation was as a “temp,” not a direct hire, correct?

      If so, then no. She would not have gotten the $50/hour. The company was expecting to pay the agency that much; but would not have paid that much to a direct hire because of the additional cost associated with benefits, paid holidays, etc.

      If she was a temp, the fact that the agency was getting less than half of what the company was paying is unusual; normally the agency gets half or even more. (although, sometimes less).

      Also, consider that if an agency places more and more folks with a company they will sometimes discount the amount charged to the company, so you cannot always go by documents found “online.” (I hope you don’t mean “online” to be on the web; just on the company’s network somewhere)

      1. Jamie*

        In the tech temp world it used to be 35% mark-up was fairly standard. I’ve been out of this for several years so that may have changed, is it 50% now?

        I totally agree with the way you pointed out that the employee won’t get what was being paid the agency when going perm. This is a weird urban myth in the temp world by which people calculate what they are paying for them now without taking into account the benefits, additional costs of hiring someone directly. Not to mention the agency hire fees. You typically do get a bump when going from temp to perm, but I’ve never seen anyone get the whole boat.

    3. perrik*

      I used to work in an external recruiting agency (highly specialized, with recruiters who worked in that field before switching careers), and have been employed through an agency…

      Your wife’s pay situation is pretty typical for a contractor. Agencies will take about 40% of the hourly rate paid by the client. That covers administrative work (the agency handles payroll, taxes, and any benefits) plus profit.

      However, suppose she had been hired directly as an employee? Now the company has to cover all her employee benefits (“fringe”), and the hiring manager has to budget for salary + fringe when making an offer. Your wife might have received the full $50/hour as an independent contractor, but now she has to handle all her administrative stuff (including quarterly tax payments) and to forego benefits – assuming the company is willing to employ a 1099 independent contractor for the position, of course.

      FWIW, I temped at a company which liked me well enough to convert me to permanent. They decided to pay me the same hourly rate they had paid the agency for my services, without calculating the extra costs of my employee benefits. That was an awesome thing to do. Pity they imploded a few months later.

      As far as a direct hire situation, a company might prefer to go with someone who applied directly (no fee to a recruiter). A company might prefer to interview 2 or 3 pre-vetted candidates rather than spending their time going through a swath of incoming resumes. An applicant might want to apply directly so they’re not screened out by a recruiter who might not know the real requirements for the position. Then again, an applicant might want to apply through a recruiter because the recruiter knows the requirements better than an automated ATS or an HR generalist does. A knowledgeable recruiter can put a resume directly in front of the hiring manager. An AAM reader can write a cover letter which beats the heck out of anything a recruiter might say. There, wasn’t that helpful?

    4. Anonymous*

      Actually, probably not. The extra that they were paying the agency was on top of what they were willing to pay for her salary. Doubt they would have paid her more directly, though I understand the logic from the worker’s position.

  9. Anonymous*

    Based on experience, I would apply to the company directly. Since they placed an ad, they’re obviously not restricting themselves to recruiter-supplied applicants. Recruiters can be useful if the position is not currently being advertised, but in this case, you would only make yourself the more expensive choice. Given two equally qualified applicants, an employer would rather pay a salary than a salary + recruiter’s fees (which can be surprisingly expensive).

  10. Alisha*

    I agree with the others nine times out of 10: go direct. It’s cheaper for the employer, and raises your chances of getting the offer considerably.

    There’s one exception to that, and that’s when you’re working with a recruiting chain, like the Robert Half family (including RH Technical, Creative Circle, etc.), that makes you sign a contract upon enlisting with them where you agree not to apply independently to companies a recruiter introduces you to for X number of days, months, or years. ALWAYS read the fine print and know a recruiting agency’s SOP before signing on; otherwise, you can burn bridges and majorly limit yourself in your job search.

    1. Hari*

      I’ve signed with Creative Circle. The contract is that for a year if you are introduced to a company by Creative Circle then they get credit for that introduction. It’s not that you -can’t- apply independently but they want you to tell them if you do apply and get the job so they can contact the employer for their fee. It’s not that you aren’t allowed to.

  11. Julia*

    It depends who has the better understanding of the market for that kind of role. Sometimes it’s the hiring company and sometimes it’s the recruiters.

    I applied at two big multinationals in the last couple of months. One used the same big recruiting agency for every role and it was like being in a sausage factory. You fit their rigid criteria or you didn’t, no exceptions. The other used a small agency that specialised in my type of role. They were able to encourage the hiring company to look outside the box when they couldn’t match their first choice of qualifications and that was a much more positive experience (I got the job).

    1. Alisha*

      Julia, you’ve expressed why I prefer small recruiting firms and independent headhunters several times over the big, impersonal staffing agencies – and way better than I could. I feel like the smaller/indie places care so much more about each and every candidate and truly want to make the best match for each of us instead of fulfilling a monthly quota.

      My husband, who is searching in the trades, compared notes with me and we both concluded that the smaller firms also tend to get more unique (and often, “cool to work for”) jobs, whereas the big, national chains seem to be competing w/ each other over the same pool of candidates and mid-to-large sized companies. Like, the chains try to get you in w/ financial and insurance giants, whereas an indie recruiter or headhunter would try to get you in at a cool start-up, or somewhere like The Management Center (which looks absolutely fantastic, from the website description!).

  12. Senses*

    If I have other contacts at the company, in particular contacts who are close to the hiring department/manager, I would apply through the contact rather than the recruiter.

    If I don’t have any other “in’s” I would go through the recruiter, because in my experience recruiters have a better chance of getting your resume in front of the hiring manager, than just sending the resume to an online system.

    However, if I don’t hear anything back from the recruiter, I’ll then apply directly. This happened to me once. A recruiter contacted me out of the blue on LinkedIn; I sent him my resume and had a phone screen with him. He told me he’d forward my application and let me know the outcome. I never ever heard back from him again and he never returned my follow-up emails. But by then he’d already told me which company it was, including the salary range for the position. I applied online and got the job.

    I always talk to recruiters when they contact me. I may not always apply through them, but I always talk to them just to see what kind of information I can find out.

  13. Hello Vino*

    It’s always a good idea to talk to recruiters when they contact you, even if you don’t end up applying through them. Generally, I think applying directly to the company is the better option. It also depends on what industry you’re in. Some industries are more recruiter friendly than others.

    While my husband was still in grad school, he was frequently contacted by recruiters regarding tech and finance jobs. The recruiters made great recommendations based on his qualifications and shared a lot of helpful inside info with him. They’ve continued to contact him even though he’s employed full time, and he’s found it very helpful to continue to stay in touch with them.

    My coworker’s husband, who works in advertising, has recently encountered many recruiters who have a poor understanding of the advertising industry. Even though his resume clearly lists 8+ years of experience as an art director, the recruiters kept sending him entry level graphic design positions or architecture/interior design positions. They were way off!

    1. Anonymous*

      Vino (Love your screen name!), I’ve observed similarly to your co-worker’s husband. My background allows me to interview for technical positions or ad/marcomm positions that need technical designers. My preference is tech by a mile – hours are saner, pay’s higher – but I’m keeping an open mind about what I interview for.

      Unfortunately, with the agency positions, the recruiters who’ve contacted me tended to miss the mark – everything from offering traditional media creative/art director jobs when I’m totally web-based, to positions paying 10-20k below market, to one position that was described as needing my expertise – and I wound up interviewing and making an idiot of myself, because they totally did NOT! I would advise people unequivocally to apply for agency jobs on their own.

  14. K Too*

    Go direct. I may be a little biased because of my lukewarm experiences with recruiters. Plus in this economy, employers are paying cheaper salaries. How many companies are willing to tack on an extra external recruiter fee? If you are in a niche industry then maybe a recruiter will work in your interest, otherwise go the direct way.

    I’ve came across to many people that have had not so good experiences with recruiters. There are good ones, but I’ve yet to come across one.

    1. Ellen M.*

      In this case the company in question *is* willing to pay the fee, or they would not be using a recruiter. They might prefer not to, but whether they do or they don’t pay a fee, that doesn’t benefit the applicant.

  15. Ellen M.*

    I agree with alison – find out as much as you can about the recruiter. (and I realize there is probably not much time for this, but perhaps you could ask others in your network who do the same kind of work you do – and ask only those who you know will be discreet if you are job hunting while employed).

    If the recruiter is reputable, I would go with that.

  16. Anonymous*

    If you ever decide to give suggestions on resumes again, I would really love your imput on mine. I read where you did this as a one time thing once in the past. Alison, I am sure someone that knows what they are doing could make mine show a lot more to offer. I am not going flashy, but I know there are ways mine could be presented better. Thank you.

  17. Charles*

    OP, are you sure that these are, in fact, the same position?

    Maybe they are similar, but, not the exact same position. I find it hard to believe that a company would spend its resources on searching for a candidate AND pay a recruiter to do the same (not, unheard of, but not all that common either). Just an FYI.

    As for your question; it really does depend on the individuals involved. There are some really top-notch recruiters out there who can lead you to unposted jobs or get your resume to the right hiring managers. They can also give you tips on revising your resume to fit that job better, what to emphasize when interviewing, etc., based upon conversations they have had with the hiring managers. Sort of an “insiders” viewpoint that you will not get by applying directly.

    On the other hand, there are some really bad, and I mean BAD, recruiters out there that you do not want to deal with.

    Only experience in dealing with them as individuals will tell you which kind you are dealing with (or ask friends and colleagues what experiences they have had with them)

    The only thing you really need to do is make sure that if you have applied for a position already TELL the recruiter. They will get burnt if you have applied and then they submit you and you get hired. They do NOT get paid (or at least it will be disputed) if you applied first either directly or through another agency. That is one sure fire way to burn a bridge.

    1. perrik*

      “Maybe they are similar, but, not the exact same position. I find it hard to believe that a company would spend its resources on searching for a candidate AND pay a recruiter to do the same (not, unheard of, but not all that common either).”

      The company may not be actively recruiting other than posting a position to their own website (no $ required).

      What I’ve never understood is why a company would pay an external recruiter who simply re-used the company’s job description word-for-word. I love running searches which pull up a single job posted by 2 or 3 different agencies plus the actual hiring company – all with the exact same wording.

      1. Charles*

        . . . searches which pull up a single job posted by 2 or 3 different agencies plus the actual hiring company.”

        YES! I have noticed this too – it is too funny! What on earth are the folks at the company thinking? Do they really think that each agency is going to come up with a completely different set of possible candidates?

        Or, more likely, some of those agencies are really just pulling the posting from the company’s website, hoping to then “present” a candidate and get a foot in the door.

        1. Catbertismy hero*

          “Or, more likely, some of those agencies are really just pulling the posting from the company’s website, hoping to then “present” a candidate and get a foot in the door.”

          I have seen this a lot. Our response is the same – unless we retained you for the search, we will not pay a fee for your candidates. The OP should ask the recruiter if they have been retained for the search; if not, then apply directly.

  18. K.*

    I’ve had good and bad experiences with recruiters, but in general I prefer to go direct. I’ve spoken to a hiring manager who was really frustrated with the recruiter that was recruiting for a position she had open, because the recruiter really didn’t understand what needs the position had and was pulling a crappy (meaning just totally unsuited for the job) pool of applicants, which was just creating more work for the hiring manager, so that’s something to be mindful of. I do second the “always talk to recruiters if they contact you” idea, because who knows, they might have valuable information, particularly as it pertains to your competition.

  19. Anonymous*

    Recruiters are notorious for not informing candidates of the company until the last minute (ie, until you’re booked for an interview) so the odds of you finding out the company’s identity are slim. Try googling the title, industry, etc. to see if the company has also listed the position. Keep in mind that some companies only hire through an agency, and will not post on their own site.

    Also, once the recruiter has divulged the name of the company, do not contact the company directly. At that point, it’s best to go through the recruiter. Otherwise, it looks disloyal to the recruiter and a bit unprofessional.

    My feeling is that if you find a position through a recruiter, go through that recruiter. If you find a position on your own, online or elsewhere, use the direct contact.

    Recruiters can give you very valuable information about the interview process. I once interviewed at a major corporation and was told that there was a five-step interview process, with 2 in-person interviews and 3 phone interviews, and was guided on what to prepare for at each step of the way. The recruiter’s help was invaluable, and I don’t think I would have received that from the company itself.

    Plus, if the recruiter has already submitted other candidates to the company and they are no longer being considered, they’ve already received feedback on why those people weren’t given the position, and can guide you on what you need to be clear about in your interview, as far as previous experience, etc.

  20. Beth Robinson*

    Are you an exact match for the position? If not, then I suggest using the recruiter. You can make your case to them first and if it is srong then they can make the case to the hiring manager. Yes, theoretically your resume does this, but sometimes the story you tell yourself is stronger. At least that has been my experience the last few years when I had to job-hunt twice.

  21. Wilton Businessman*

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you go with the recruiter, you will get more information and will have somebody “selling” you. In addition, you might get screened out by the recruiter and never even be presented. Lastly, if they do hire you, you will come with extra baggage that may keep your compensation down.

    If you decide to apply directly to the company, you will have to be your own salesperson (which is not necessarily a bad thing). For a firm that typically uses recruiters, they know that a direct applicant isn’t pre-screened and will have to do the extra work up front. It also means they are getting you cheaper so you may have more room to negotiate when you start talking money.

    Personally, I think you get a better deal applying directly to the firm assuming you get hired. That being said, I use recruiters quite extensively because I know I am getting quality candidates.

  22. PCBold*

    I found my current position by mistake, and applied for a position with company A going through an acquisition by company B. Company A does use a recruiter, but now that they have the resources of Company B, I have been able to refer some candidates through them, one of which was hired.

    I think company A prefers this, but I have tried referrals since, and it seems there’s no communication between company A and the parent company, B. It’s like there is confusion between whether company B should post the job, or if company A is going to use the recruiter.

    Company B is huge, but even so…I would recommend going through the recruiter. Being direct is objectively better, in my opinion, and based on my own experience, but the recruiter seems like a more reliable way to get an interview.

    I will say, though, that not all recruiters have a good understanding of what all companies are looking for…but if there’s a higher chance of an interview, you get the chance to ask those kinds of questions yourself.

  23. Val*

    I had a similar experience when applying to my current job – I had directly applied about a week before a recruiter contacted me about the position. I hadn’t heard anything from the company yet, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to talk to the recruiter anyway.

    I was upfront with the recruiter about having already applied directly. He went back to the company to check on whether they had my application (hey, I guess if the online application system failed, he could have put me in), and let me know that they did have my app, were definitely interested in me, but for obvious reasons, he would not be handling the rest of the process. Nice guy – he was very professional even though it turned out that he wouldn’t get his fee from my candidacy.

    I believe it actually accelerated the timeline with the company though – I think it was the next day that I got the call from the company’s internal recruiter. I found out later that the recruiter had placed another developer hired at the same time as me, so he got someone in the door, at least.

    So, in my anecdotal experience, applying directly first, but being upfront with the recruiter about having applied (it helps if there’s a little bit of time in between, so it doesn’t look like you cut them out intentionally) can work to your advantage, and possibly speed things along slightly.

  24. Elizabeth West*

    Oh I hate those ads. They are left up on job boards so long they are obviously bait for temp workers. I’m looking for a permanent position, not to temp.

    If I see it posted and the company name is in there, I’ll google the company and see if it’s on their website. If so, I apply directly. If not, I might send my resume to the recruiter, but usually that just gets me a ton of spam emails or calls about a position that doesn’t have anything to do with the one I applied for. The agency I’m with now is doing temp-to-hire, mostly, and I just went on an interview for one today. I remember one of our people at Exjob got hired that way, so I agreed to talk to them.

  25. Anonymous*

    My experience with recruiters has been terrible. I have noticed in the tech field there are a fair amount of recruiters that will cold call or email me (I’m not currently searching and all my linkedin/indeed/alum website etc. profiles say so) with a job they will never tell me with whom and often will be very vague with location. They seem to not have a very good understanding of the job itself but much more noticably have a terrible command of the english language. I’m sorry but I doubt you could get me an “in” with a hiring manager when I can only understand half the words in your voicemail after listening 3 times. To me this is a very obvious case of bad recruiters.

    That being said, I keep seeing everyone in the comments say that an employee will receive less compensation going thru a recruiter vs going direct based on the available budget for the position. For a good recruiter I would think that would be the opposite. Going direct they will not offer the top of their available budget, they will offer a bit below what they think they can get you to accept, then it is up to your negotiating skills to get any more, the rest stays in their budget. With a recruiter, they get paid based on how much your initial salary is so it is in their best interest for you to get paid as much as possible. At the same time, they will likely have a better feel for how much the company would be willing to pay and as they do this for a living are better at negotiating/teaching you how to negotiate your salary. The company is likely to make the same initial offer knowing that much less and they won’t get the candidate they want its just their max available will be a little lower (but lets be honest only a stellar candidate with incredible negotiating skills will get the max salary a company has in mind for a hire).

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      I disagree. I have more flexibility to go outside my range if it’s a direct hire because I don’t have the overhead of a large recruiter fee. If my range is X-Y, I am not looking at anyone of Y+10,000 from the recruiters but I would look at them as a direct hire.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thats a little short sighted since the recruiter fee is only a cost for the first year. For the direct applicant you are now shouldering that cost yearly for their entire contract.

  26. Anonymous*

    Chiming in here with another go direct to the company vote. I was fortunate enough to be hired into my current role via working with a recruiter, and with transparency around her fee and such. However, in this role I work with several medium-to-large recruiting and placement firms and it’s a catch-22. They always seem to bring us better candidates than we can find through our postings, but they are pushy and sometimes deceptive. Sometimes I’m not sure what they are telling the candidate, and I’m at the point of frustration because I’ve made a concerted effort to share honest information about our culture and benefits and work, yet it doesn’t always translate to the candidate. Plus the costs we’ve paid in conversion and placement fees are equal to 1.5 FTEs, which is just sad.

  27. Anonymous*

    This could not have come at a better time. I was interested in a job that I didn’t know had been advertised to an agency. By that I meant an ad had been put up on the organization’s website but there was no similar sounding ad put up by the agency. called the agency about other jobs that were advertised by them, and then the recruiter mentioned this job which I had given no hint about my interest for. taking advantage of the situation, I asked when they were looking at having the successful candidate start and he said he’d ask them. He asked me to forward my resume in the meantime, which I did. No answer by promised date, so called up just now and he said he’d submitted my resume for ne already! He then said he noticed I had been asking about another job on a linkedin forum and I asked whether he was involved in that too, he said yes, and now I’m suspicious, whether he’s a fake. Do I ring up the first company and ask whether they’ve received anything in my name? I’m more embarrassed than anything if it’s legit because it’s a general resume that I send out to recruiters and is so not tailored for the job! Thanks.

  28. jodi*

    I’m a bit late, but need some advice on this subject desparetly.

    I’m a permanent temp (freelance) and in NYC it’s almost impossible to go direct. Even if you think you’re going direct it almost always turns out to be a recruiter. Anywho, my questions is would any one know where I can find listings of jobs from companies/firms directly? Otherwise I guess my only option would be to visit websites, but that seems to be a bit time consuming not knowing who is hiring.

    I think once I can get access to a listing of job opportunities directly with companies my approach, of course, would be how much money they are saving without going through an agency and I have a very tight resume as well as great references. It’s just getting the opportunity to send that email direct that I’m have difficulties with, so any advice would be very much appreciated!

  29. Brittany*

    Recruiters offer a wide array of services. They are there to help you! Yes they get paid in the process, but everyone needs to make a living. Good recruiters will help you prepare for interviews, and give you an inside scoop on the job. On a secondary note, there is a reason the company went to a recruiter in the first place, and a reason for that is often because they don’t want to or don’t have the time to deal with it themselves. Submitting your resume good just aggrevate them.
    Plus, if the recruiter has proof that they’ve contacted you, the employer has to pay the fees anyway.
    My suggestion – don’t waste the employers time! There is a reason they went to a recruiter!

  30. Ricky*

    I get lots of recruiters submitting my resume but, 95% of the time they drop off and I don’t hear back from them. I have lots of experience and have solid skills. What’s going on?

    A friend told me it could be due to employers not wanting to pay the recruiters so the deal dies and the recruiter does not want to give you a trail back to the employer lest you go direct to them and get the job.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Anonymous*

      I disagree with your friend on this. Here’s some insight into what happens in the background after you submit your resume to an external recruiter.

      An agency recruiter on an average would submit one more qualified candidate besides you for the same job in order to increase their chances to make the cut. Once they have submitted their candidates they wait to hear back from the client on the next steps (the wait period could be anything from 2-15 days or even more depending on how often the client gives feedback to the agency). Now if you follow up during this time, you might not hear back from the recruiter or might get the same reply from them, mainly because they don’t have any update for you!

      Now on the client side, they have X number of recruiting agencies sending them resumes for the same job. The Hiring Manager would at least have received more than thirty qualified resumes to review. He would pick his top 5 candidates and request round one interviews. (If your resume is shortlisted, the client will go back to the agency asking them to setup an interview with you, in which case, you will hear back from your recruiter). On the other hand, if you are not in the top 5 resumes, it could mean either your resume has been rejected or put in the second list i.e. if none of the candidates from the first batch are selected after the interview, the manager will come back to this list.

      Now some hiring managers reject the candidates on the spot as they review them and update the agency recruiter while the others prefer to give a feedback only for the candidates they interview and reject everyone else in bulk after the selection process is complete.

      Sometimes the only update that an agency may give you is that we have submitted you and are waiting to hear back from the manager or that you are still in the running or that you are rejected without giving sufficient reasons. It all depends on what information is relayed to them from the client. Although at some point the recruiter would get the feedback but it could be a few weeks after they submit you or directly when the position has been filled or they might not have any explanation as to why you were rejected. These are some of the cases where they might not respond back to the your emails.

      Although I always prefer that they close loop with their candidates if they want to work with them again in future. But considering that they may have a lot more job applicants following up for a feedback, they might miss updating a few where they don’t have any update from the client.

      If you think that the recruiter is ignoring your emails even when you are diligently following up. I’d suggest you to send them a very clear email that if they do not respond to you within 24 hours with a status on your submission, you’d withdraw your candidature from this position through their agency.
      This would create a sense of urgency in them and would make them go back to the client and ask for a feedback if they don’t have one. Most likely you will hear back from them even though the feedback might not be of much help but at least you’d get an idea about your chances of getting this job.

      If they still don’t get back to you, good for you because now you know that you don’t want to work with them again or even to not to apply for the same job since the manager is not responsive.

      1. Ricky*

        Not one recruiter has ever given me a reply. It’s been over a year. Got anymore responses?

  31. ara01*

    One important piece of advice that someone recently gave me is that the contract between recruiters and some companies specifically prohibit a hiring manager from even giving out information to a potential candidate directly. They can’t even mention the name of the recruiting agency. So in this case, it might be necessary to go through the recruiter. I would suggest doing your research on both companies to try to figure out which route is recommended. It likely depends on the job itself as well as the relationship between the recruiter and the company.

  32. Anon*

    Can I ask for your advice on something. I have relocated to Oz, prior this i had built up contacts in my previous job in investment banking. So 2 weeks ago I emailed one of those contacts i.e. the head of their relevant department enquiring about opportunities, i then received an out of office response as that person was off on annual leave. A few days later i then received a call from a recruitment agent about adifferent role with the same company within the same department, they then put me forward for this role. I interviewed for thisposition and it went really well. Later that day the head of the department was back from vacation and emailed me about my initial email query and invited me in for an interview. This interview was from my direct contact with the company. This is the role i would actually prefer and in the interview they said that they would love to have me as part of the team. However the recruitment agent contacted me as the companys HR dept told him had interviewed for another position and, on the phone to me he asked details of who interviewed me and for what role, now he is trying to manage this process also as he knows i prefer this role. So now i am in a pickle should i allow the recruiter to manage the role they put me forward for and tell him to back off regarding the other position i applied directly for as i suspect hes now jumping on the bandwagon and trying to make a quick $ on my other position that had nothing to do with him! In short would i get more money dealing with HR directly regarding this position i applied directly for would the agent get me more money. Your advice would be greatly appreciated, bearing in mind that i dont want to ruin my relationship with the recruiter either?

  33. Greg*

    I am thinking about going directly to the company instead of a recruiter. From personal experience, the recruiters just waste time.

  34. David*

    All things considered, applying through a recruiter is your best chance. The only downside is that the company might go with another “free” candidate if the experience is comparable. However, if you are truly the best candidate, most companies will pay the fee happily. In the end, they want the best available candidate and they will pay. The pros include: Recruiters have personal relationships with the hiring managers (often they have spent happy hour time with them), they will provide you with inside info and interview prep that you would not know on your own, and also most agencies have thousands of open positions and if you apply for one position, they likely have several other unadvertised positions that would be a good match for you as well.

  35. Dale*

    I don’t trust recruiters atleast i can speak for the New zealand market.
    Recruiters can be big waste of your time, if you know who the client is try to apply directly to client. That majority of folks experience in NZ who i speak to. They are not qualified to understand the resume and they also have limited understanding of what the client really wants….

  36. John*

    Nice comment section here!!!
    Landed here because I may have put myself in an awkward position.

    I recruiting agency found me a job, but the job sucks. Called them to report it and let them know I was looking, again. (recruiter was sorry for that)
    They told me it was tricky to place me elsewhere because it would not be ethic to “remove me” from where they placed me.

    But after a few mails, they did not renew with the company and told me they will keep me in the loop if something pass by. They proposed me something a week or 2 after, but the company postponed the opening.

    2-3 month later with no other proposition from the recruiter, the company reopen the position. I notified the recruiter , who tell me they are on it.
    1 week later, no news. Decided to applied online and got a phone interview.

    Realized after having an onsite interview that the phone would have been from a third party (Linkedin job title of the interviewer: Independant recruiter).

    Should I say something, warn someone:
    – first recruiting company,
    – hiring company,
    – the person how did the phone interview?

  37. turdo plopp*

    Always go direct if you can negotiate and know your market value.

    Cut out the middle man

  38. ran1*

    I saw job ad. On X company 2 days ago on seek. I thought it is better to update my resume and apply next day. Same day I got call from Y recruiter and asked me about this job and I said I still have not applied this and I will apply to this job to night. Then he said to me he will represent X company behalf of me and forward my cv to X company manager. Then he sent me a email with below points..

    (i) You have not provided your authority to any organisation other than Y recruitment company to be represented to the client X company for suitable position(s).
    (ii) If you are seeking representation for a Permanent vacancy, you have not been represented to the client X company or applied directly to this organisation within the past 6 months.
    Then I returned mail to recruiter saying yes..
    But I called today he said he already forwarded my cv and will take few days to get feedback. I would really love work X company..
    I am warring about that, X company advertised this job directly on seek means X company does not want to send extra money for the recruiters. So X company say no to recruiter I will not get any chance..
    Is that ok to apply directly via seek for above job without letting recruiter? Or is it better to wait for recruiter feed back?
    i dont know why recruiter wants to involve this?

  39. Anonymous*

    I was very interested to see this thread and would like some advice. A recruitment agency put me forward for a position. I didn’t get it but did get down to the last 2 for the position. I was told at the time that this particular company were impressed with me and would have another opening but it would be in a few months / weeks, no one was sure and the position was not definite. I then got contacted by the company direct who said to keep an eye on their website as the job would be coming up shortly. It did and I applied.

    Another job then got advertised on the recruiters website and I asked them to consider me for this one, as I seemed perfect for this type of position. Unfortunately, it was the one I had applied for direct with the company and the recruitment agency were not at all happy I had applied direct, as they had previously told me of a possible opening. (I think that when they phoned the company the company told the recruitment person that I had already applied). However I do not know this for sure.

    I replied politely advising them that I did not know that they were representing the company/position, as I had not heard from them and that is why I had applied direct and apologised for my actions.

    Do you feel that this will effect my application now? Do you think the recruiters will try and get commission for the initial introduction even though they did not put me forward for this second position?

    Also, initially the job was just posted on the company website and with the recruitment agency. Now it is on all the usual websites indeed etc. do you think this has been put there by the company to get suitable candidates? or do people like indeed and monster just pull these jobs from websites and try to get their cut with introductions??

    I would be obliged for any constructive feedback on this, as I am still waiting for an interview, (I initially got told by the company that I’ve been shortlisted ) and I’m anxious to know what the position could possibly be.

    Many thanks

  40. candidate*

    I am in a similar position: I am desperately looking for a job abroad in tax accounting and new openings are quite rare. About one year ago I applied for a position that quite completely fit my CV and expertise but with not luck.

    I noticed that the Company republished the adv but I didn’t apply directly because I assumed it has no sense, after the first attempt.
    Eventually, I applied for a similar position to a recruiting agency and It turned out that is the same company and positions. I didn’t mention my previous application to the recruiter because during our chat I wasn’t 100% sure of the name of the company.

    I double checked it on my e-mail box and it is the same company. The company published the same adv at least 2 times, I am not actually sure if they haven’t found nobody of if there are many new openings (the latter is not so likeable).

    My cv is more robust than 1 year ago (i got CCA qualification) and 1 year more of expertise on the field. Do you think I should tell this to the recruiter or not? I thought to keep my mouth closed on this since my application is not so recent.

    Secondly, is true that a former application directly to the company preclude to re-apply exploiting the HR agency?? Once one recruiter told me this: “have you applied before directly to the company?” me: “yes”; “recruiter: “ok then we can’t proceed with your application”. It is quite weird in my opinion!!!

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