Centred Content

Dear Joanna,

I have applied to many jobs for a receptionist position with staffing agencies and recruitment companies. I have never received any response. Not even a phone call! I don’t understand how they operate. Please could you explain how I can work effectively with recruiters in my field. I am part of a supported employment program for youth with developmental disabilities at Reena and my job coach suggested that I reach out to you with this question.

Signed: Recruiter Resistance

Centred Content

Dear Resistance,

To help answer your question, I consulted with a leader in the industry, Raffi Toughlouian, Vice President at IFG – International Financial Group, as well as the job coaches from Reena’s Supported Employment Services (RSES  for youth with developmental disabilities. They have clarified some of the confusion around the role of recruiters in the job search process, and tips on how to work effectively with them:

  • Understand the business. Recruiting firms may be known as placement/outplacement firms, search firms, “temp” agencies (for temporary work), or recruiting/consulting firms. The staff may be called recruiters or “head hunters.” They commonly field offers of work for many occupations. Some specialize in specific professionals especially IT, supply chain, administration, accounting/finance, architecture, financial services, healthcare, marketing, creative, information technology, engineering and executive positions. Fee structures vary for different companies – but in all cases, a recruiter is paid by the employer. THE AGENCY SHOULD NOT CHARGE YOU for work they do on your behalf. Remember that the recruiter is working for the employer.  Typically, on-site job coaching that is part of the supported employment programs is not allowed. There may be exceptions to this but I would check with the recruiter first. Off-site job coaching is an option for you to consider to help you with preparing for the interview and handling any on-the-job issues.
  • Be ready. Recruiting firms work quickly. You cannot bring in a job coach. Remember, the recruiter only makes money from their “client” (employer)” if you are placed. If the recruiter feels your resume and/or social media profiles meet the qualifications of their “client” (employer), you will be invited in to be interviewed and potentially tested for work that is technical or office related. This is usually done before the interview with the prospective employer. You can be recruited on LinkedIn. Your resume may be requested after an interview if at all.
  • Do your research. Often, successful recruiters specialize in one particular profession or industry. Therefore, job-seekers should identify companies and positions they are specifically qualified for and seek out recruiters who work with them.  You have the right to register with more than one staffing/recruitment firm.
  • Build a partnership. When working with a recruiter, you are developing an important professional relationship. There has to be mutual respect between the candidate and the recruiter for this to be successful. If you are invited in for an interview and testing, you will be working with a recruiter, or a few recruiters, who are responsible for your file. Employers hire candidates who not only have the technical skills required to do the job, but candidates who they feel have a professional outlook that is compatible with the business culture. Same applies to recruiters. Follow up with them. They are your gatekeeper to your future boss. Be honest, state your employment accommodations, salary expectations and what your goals are for your next role.
  • Be flexible to both permanent, part-time, contract and/or temporary assignments (refer to my case above). After you apply for jobs on the staffing agency’s site, follow up with the recruiter assigned to the job (usually at the bottom of the job posting) with a phone call to make sure he or she received your resume and application.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org