5 Mistakes About Retained Recruiters

“As a candidate, I can get hired without talking to the retained recruiter.”


Wrong. The first problem with that idea is you will likely not know about the job without talking to the recruiter. Retained recruiters are sometimes the only one with details about the position. It is not unusual for a retained search to begin before the position is even open, meaning the person who has the duties may not have been told that they will be seeking new opportunities soon. Since the recruiters are hired to conduct the search and match the position and the perfect candidate, it is in their best interest to talk to everyone who may fill the role. Since the retained recruiter has to be familiar with the details about the job description and duties of the job, they can give you critical advice about interview process and the company representatives that you will meet in your interview process. Recruiters are hired by the company, but if they think you would be a good fit they will help tailor your message to the potential employer.

“Recruiters don’t know the details about my position or business, and they can’t really help me in the process.”

The veracity of this statement depends on the recruiter. While this may be true with a rare retained recruiter who is working on a opening that exceeds the recruiter’s experience, the retained recruiter must usually show sufficient knowledge about the work to be done and skills needed to do the work. If you are talking to a recruiter working on retainer, you may find that he or she knows as much or more about the work as you do. The recruiter must select the candidates they will put into the interview process, and that will require a good understanding of the work and the process.

“Recruiters never tell you the truth”

Not true. They may not tell you all the truth immediately. They may be conducting a confidential search that requires discretion, and that may result in the recruiter retaining information until they are released to tell you more. Remember, if you are the successful candidate who gets an offer for the position, you will be there in that company for years to come. The retained recruiters know that they must be seen by candidates and the companies who retain recruiters as straight-shooters. Any hint of dishonesty can taint the profession headhunter with the company and candidate, and that could kill future opportunities to work with the company again. A recruiter’s word is her bond, and they survive by dealing with everyone with honesty.

“Recruiters are salesmen, and they do not care about me.”

Sorry. That is not true. A retained recruiter cares a great deal about you. They are concerned about your skill set, your work habits, your references, and how well you will fit into the organization seeking someone like you. They are paid to be sure the match as close as possible, and they cannot determine if the company and candidate will come together to create a more effective organization without caring about you. The recruiter on retainer is acting on behalf of the company. They are not your agent. If they determine that a different candidate is a better fit, they are obligated to let the company know about the other candidate. That sometimes results in your feelings being hurt, but that is not a result of not caring about you.

“There is no need to talk to recruiters until I need one for a job search.”

That may be short-sited thinking. The best jobs out there for you may be the ones you never know about. You won’t hear about them because you are too busy being employed. If you find a retained recruiter that you like for a job in the past that was not offered to you, you should stay in contact with that recruiter. Retained searches are usually reserved for higher level positions, and retained recruiters usually work on similar openings with other companies. You may be surprised to learn that your next best job is the one the headhunter is working on right now. For that reason, it is a good idea to maintain contact with the recruiter even if you are happily working without any thoughts of changing positions.


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