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Recruiters and Your Salary: The 7 Secrets You Have to Know

The idea of recruiters seems fairly straightforward. On the most fundamental level, they’re hired by companies to identify the best potential employees and “recruit” them. For some, this may bring to mind visions of champagne receptions and ball game box seats, but recruiters can bring up feelings of suspicion for many potential employees, especially when it comes to the salary negotiation.

Recruiters work for the company, after all, so isn’t their goal to save the company money rather than get you the best pay possible? If you are in doubt about working with a recruiter, here are 7 secrets about recruiters and how to work with one to get your desired position and salary.

#1. Recruiters Have the Inside Scoop
For many positions, salary is somewhat negotiable, but recruiters usually have the inside scoop. So let’s say a company lists the salary range for a position, but you suspect you can get them to go higher. The recruiter actually knows if they will or won’t budge, so the end effect is that working with recruiters can make the job search process easier for everyone since they can pre-negotiate. If you know you won’t take less than $100,000, and the recruiter knows the company won’t go above $85,000 for the position, everyone knows early on that the fit isn’t right, and you and the company both save time.

#2. Recruiters Can Sometimes Get You a Higher Salary
Not every company hires recruiters, and recruiters don’t recruit for every position. Recruiters often work on identifying candidates for hard-to-fill positions. It may be that the qualifications for the job are very specific and appropriate candidates hard to track down, or it may be that the position is in some far-flung location that doesn’t draw lots of applicants. Whatever the reason, the company wants and needs to fill the position, enough to pay a recruiter to help them do it, and in many cases, enough to sweeten the financial package for the potential employee. So it’s not a given that a recruiter can get you a higher salary, but a company hiring a recruiter signals that the position may offer a higher salary to begin with.

#3. Honesty is Critical
This one’s less a secret and more a mantra for job seekers everywhere. Being up front with recruiters about your qualifications, your salary requirements, and your interest in various positions will take you a long way. They won’t spend weeks advancing your candidacy for Job A just to find out that you’re only really interested in Job B or only really qualified for Job C. In the end, your honesty saves recruiters time, helps you earn their trust and respect, and means that they’ll root for you and be happy to work with you again in the future.

#4. Honesty is a Two-Way Street
Recruiters can do a lot to help you in your job search, and one of the most useful services they can provide is honest reflection of your candidacy. You may think you’re exceptionally qualified and that you deserve a salary at the top of the pay range for a position. A recruiter, especially one you have a good relationship with, can tell you whether or not that’s true. This is one of the points where some candidates become most suspicious of recruiters – since they work for the company of course they’ll tell you you’re worth less than you think you’re worth. Chances are that’s just not the case, especially if they’re doing their jobs right and trying to find great candidates for hard-to-fill positions.

#5. Skirting Doesn’t Pay
It may occur to you that the best way to work with a recruiter is to work around a recruiter – use them to help you identify a position and then skirt the recruiter and go directly to the company to work out the job and the salary on your own. Unfortunately, this clever plan almost universally backfires. The company knows they hired a recruiter, and they know you’re attempting to go behind their back, which is patently unethical behavior. Most companies see dishonesty as a major warning sign. What’s more, the company is no more inclined to give you a higher salary than a recruiter would be. Think about it: If a recruiter works for the company, someone at the company works?for the company.

#6. Recruiters Often Have Long Lead Times
Recruiters offer up a whole new avenue for finding jobs, and they’re unlikely to do anything to hinder your ability to command the salary you deserve, but they’re not necessarily your best bet if you’re in a hurry. Companies often put recruiters to work months before a position opens up. If you’re already working and simply looking to move up or change companies, a recruiters’ pace may work just fine. If you’re not working and need a salary ASAP, more active searching is probably a better match.

#7. Not Just This Job, But the Next One
You can get the most out of your relationship with a recruiter (and a higher salary) by being a great performer on the job after you’re hired. If you do well, you make the recruiter look good, and they’re much more likely to keep you in mind for future, higher-level positions.

Once you know the secrets, working with a recruiter to land the job and the salary of your dreams gets that much easier.

Publish date: June 15, 2008