Recently I contacted an old candidate contact that had just taken a new job. He hadn’t called me before making the move so I called him to give him a gentle drubbing about not reaching out to get my assistance in his job search. He said that he had a clear idea what he wanted to do next and therefore “didn’t think there was any value in working with a recruiter”. I then asked him how he found his current role and company. I was shocked when he replied that a recruiter had reached out to him via Linkedin and he was able to decipher who the company was from their message to him. He then found the VP of Sales of that firm and reached out to him directly and got the job “on my own”. He was delighted with his new job – it as a perfect match.

This slightly bizarre admission got me thinking – what is the true value of an external recruiter? It seemed like my friend above needed some refreshers so I decided to come up with this handy list:

1. Company and job discovery
Given the anecdote above, it seems logical to start here. A massive value external recruiters bring to the table for candidates is our ability to introduce them to companies they are not familiar with and / or, when they do know the company, represent aspects of the company (product, people or culture) that the candidates do not know that make a difference to their impression of that company and specific roles in the company that the candidate might not be aware of. A good recruiter knows their clients’ people, culture, product, where they fit vis-a-vis their competitors, where they sit in the broader industry intimately, can explain the job at hand and the broader context of the job in the firm and can clearly articulate all those things to the candidates.

2. Choice!
On oft-used argument in favor of using internal recruiters over outside contingency recruiters is that “no-one knows your company better than you do” overlaid with a cost-benefit justification. Rarely does that argument appreciate the candidate perspective and the value of choice that an external recruiter brings a candidate.

An internal recruiter is, by definition, a one-trick pony. If they want you then their firm is the only possibility for you and you just got the kool-aid version! Life is of course more complex than that. There is now massive choice for candidates these days and you need a gifted guide to walk you through that complexity and offer viable alternatives that will help you make an informed decision that is the right company, product, cultural fit and career progression fit. External recruiters are ideal for that role as guide. They can give you the props and cons of each opportunity and company viz a viz your needs and generally have a lot of anecdotes on employee experiences in the firms you are reviewing.

3. Negotiation help
Recruiters get to see their fair share of job negotiations. Even though I primarily represent the sales chain of command and the people i represent are experienced deal makers, most still need help with job and salary negotiations as they only see such situations when they move roles which generally isn’t that often. Although we are paid by the client and act in their best interests we are keenly aware of tolerances on both sides and can smooth the process ensuring that neither the client or candidate sullies themselves in the process.

4. Pushing you over the edge!
Beware the dangers of staying in your comfort zone! We recruiters are in sales and sometimes candidates need to be prodded by us to move, to take that risk, to get out of their rut or get marked to market. Nothing happens in the broader market if everything stands still and we provide the lubrication to ensure that the market doesn’t stall and, more importantly that you don’t get stale either. We are basically cattle prods for candidates in certain situations! Our outreach might be a bit annoying occasionally but everyone ultimately wants greener pastures and to better themselves and humans often need cajoling to do so. And yes you are welcome!

5. Career advice when you aren’t looking for a job.
A good recruiter is there for the long haul. When you need to check on your market rate or what is happening out there, an internal recruiter is limited in their world view. External Recruiters are the best bell-weather of the market and are generally happy to chat to you off cycle and offer career and salary advice.

So that’s the value I believe we external recruiters bring to the table for candidates. Always be on the lookout for good external recruiters to work with and make sure you keep in touch even when you are not in market

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