Working with recruiters is an integral part of most people's job search strategy, yet there seems to be a consistently negative perception about recruiters: aggressive, untrustworthy, and only interested in placement fees. So can they be trusted to negotiate the best salary package on your behalf?
As an ex-recruiter, I can assure you this perception is generally untrue. The basic fact is that recruiters charge the hiring company a fee based on an agreed percentage of the successful candidates' annual salary. They are then personally paid commission or bonus based on this fee.
So by default, they are driven by personal financial gain, if they 1) fill the job, and 2) get the highest possible salary (for maximum commission).
However, there are other factors a candidate should be aware of, as these will have an effect on the outcome of the recruiter attaining "best salary package":
Candidates do not pay recruiters or recruitment agencies for their service, they are hired/paid by the hiring company, therefore the recruiters' aim is to source and place the "best" candidate for the job. As you don't pay the recruiter you have limited influence on being considered "best" for the job, so the better the recruiter knows you (skills, experience and professional reputation), the more likely they are to recommend you. Top tip: meet your recruiter.
Knowing the market and your competition as a candidate is key when negotiating your salary. You may be the only candidate (which gives you more negotiating power) or you might be one of many. Your recruiter is an expert in your market, so they will be advising the hiring company about what they need to pay to get the best candidate for the job, according to market dynamics at the time of hiring. Top tip: know the market.
You specify your salary expectation so being clear on your salary "walk away point" is critical. The clearer you are on what you want and why, and being confident in your value, is important when working with recruiters. Top tip: know your value.
The hiring company will have a budget or salary range to work within, which may or may not be negotiable, depending on external market dynamics (such as volume of suitable candidates available), and internal salary restrictions (aligning newcomers with current employee salaries). So at times, there is limited flexibility in what a company can offer if your salary expectation is outside of the salary range, and there is little recruiters can do about this. Only you can decide if it is the right opportunity for you with all factors considered. Top tip: know the salary range and level of the role prior to applying.
The hiring company may be using multiple recruitment agencies, so even your recruiter may be in the dark about other candidates in consideration, therefore their advice is limited to what they know. Top tip: know the recruitment process.
You may be first choice, but this does not mean the ONLY choice, for the recruiter or hiring company. Top tip: don't be arrogant.
Your professional reputation. Being well networked, well respected and a high performer will stand you in good stead when upwardly negotiating your salary. Top tip: develop a positive professional reputation.
So in summary, yes, you can trust the recruiter to get you the best possible salary, however you play a huge part in this process.
My advice: Don't delay responding to requests for information, interview quickly and be flexible in your availability to interview, be clear on your salary requirements and notice period, don't withhold information (for example you have a one month holiday two months after the start date), and tell the recruiter if you have other roles in the pipeline.
If you are slow to respond or inflexible when interviewing then a recruiter will question your interest in the role. If you draw out a recruitment process because you have multiple roles on or are waiting to play one offer against the other, then this time delay is allowing other potential candidates to get involved, and you could end up with nothing.
It is far easier to work with candidates who are honest and straightforward and you are more likely to get the salary you want under these circumstances.
If you'd like to discuss holistic coaching to help you change careers, get unstuck in your job or to find balance as a working mother, please drop me an email to Rebecca (at) theedithub (dot) com and as soon as a coaching space becomes available you will be notified.
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