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I work in IT and I've never worked with a recruiter before. I was recently laid off, and I just made contact with a recruiter highly recommended to me by a couple of friends. I sent the recruiter my resume and talked with him briefly. He emailed me a job listing for a direct hire position that I was interested in. I told him I was rusty on a couple of the required skills but the job otherwise seemed like a great fit for me.

I sent him a revised resume and talked with him yesterday. After talking with me, he asked if I would be willing to accept less money ($2k) than the bottom of the stated salary range for the job. I told him I would since that figure was still above the minimum salary that I would accept. So apparently when he sends the company my resume he will tell them I am willing to accept a salary $2k below their stated range.

From what I've read it seems that most recruiters are commissioned. For most recruiters, does that commission depend on the salary range for the job, or does it depend on the actual salary at which I am placed into the job?

Does anyone who knows the inside business of recruiting know of any way that they might actually be making more money off of placing me at a salary below the stated range? Is this a common practice for candidates who are rusty or deficient in the required skills for a job?

Generally speaking, if a recruiter asks you to accept a lower salary than the stated range for a direct hire position should you be concerned that they doing that to look after themselves instead of you?

Just to clarify in advance, the two required skill in which I am rusty are probably the most important skills for the job, and I am rusty with them because I haven't done much in those areas in twenty years. Fortunately those skills haven't changed as much in the past twenty years as lots of other skills have.

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20% of a small number is bigger than 0% of a bigger number every time – Paparazzi Feb 11 at 20:25
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Note that it's the same for any kind of agent. Real estate agents will do exactly the same because it's not worth spending more time for the small amount they get if you get paid more: youtube.com/watch?v=17jO_w6f8Ck – dyesdyes Feb 11 at 23:24
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This is a common practice, period, and part of the negotiation game. You're free (and possibly expected) to change you position once they extend you an offer or negotiations begin. "I know I said I was willing to accept this salary figure, but I'd need you offer more PTO and a company car, like I currently get, to accept that salary." This is not quite as outrageous as it sounds at first blush, for reasons you can read up on here and anywhere else that discusses salary negotiation. I suck at it, and even I've been able to get potential employers to extend offers 25% above their stated max. – HopelessN00b Feb 12 at 16:07
up vote 58 down vote accepted

Getting a small commission is better than getting no commission at all. And the salary bait-and-switch is a common tactic amongst "professional" recruiters. My guess is the position actually has a lower salary range, and the recruiter just quoted a higher figure in order to hook a few quality candidates who would otherwise pass on a lower-paying position.

I have worked with external recruiters in the past, and have never actually gotten a job through one of them. They do nothing but waste my time.

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I got the job I'm currently at through a recruiter, and he blatantly lied to my face about several company policies / perks. It's still a great job, but things like telecommuting, which i was told were "the norm" are actually taboo. A couple of us were hired through the same guy and now we have a laugh about the BS he fed us, but under slightly different circumstances I'd be incredibly angry. – AndreiROM Feb 11 at 18:35
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@JoeStrazzere - some questions I didn't ask because I didn't want to seem like I'm focused on those aspects. For me telecommuting would have been a perk, not a requirement to accepting the job. The recruiter assured me at length that these guys all got to work from home. "Great", i thought. I didn't want to bring it up in the interview because it was secondary to the pile of money i was gonna get, and also because it's an easy commute. But lo and behold, his assurances were all lies. And pointless lies at that - I was still taking the job, regardless of telecommuting perks. – AndreiROM Feb 11 at 19:00
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@AndreiROM I've had this happen as well. Recruiter assured me up and down that it was a remote position. I asked in the interview, it was a flat out lie. I thanked them for wasting my time and got up and walked out. One is responsible for the actions of an Agent acting on one's behalf. – Technik Empire Feb 12 at 8:45
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It's always a good idea to double-check details that recruiters tell you about company practices with a company during interview. I was led to believe that a company I currently work for reviewed contractor rates annually and increased them on average by between 5-15% depending on performance which caused me to take the contract in the first place. This turned out to be rubbish and the company had no intention of EVER reviewing my rate. It was a hard lesson to learn and I'm stuck with a lower rate than I'm typically worth for the next year. – toadflakz Feb 12 at 9:45
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Not all recruiters are bad, but sadly they often are. They're basically pimps - providing a service where they get some money if you do the job. Now, lots of people do work with pimps, and it can be a beneficial arrangement... but this isn't always the case. – Sobrique Feb 12 at 13:29

"should you be concerned that they doing that to look after themselves instead of you?"

Your mother may put your interests above her own. Everyone else, work on the assumption that they are putting their own interests first. In business, you want to create relationships where it is to the other person's advantage to help you.

A recruiter gets a commission when he matches a person to a job. In general, recruiters are paid a percentage of the agreed salary, so he has some incentive to get you a higher salary. But his biggest incentive is to get you any job at all: a small commission is better than no commission at all, and a commission of $X for 8 hours of work is better than $2*X for 40 hours of work, assuming he can spend the difference in time working on filling other positions.

In this case, if the recruiter thinks you are just barely qualified for the job, it could work out for both of you if he can sell you to the company for less than their stated rate. At the nominal rate they might say forget it, we can find a more qualified candidate. But at a "discount", you could be in. If the pay is less than what they were quoting but still in what you consider an acceptable range, than from your point of view that should be good.

Recruiters, like any salesman, often give teaser offers. They post ads saying such-and-such job available, you meet all the stated requirements, and then you show up and they say oh, sorry, that job is already filled, or oh the ad didn't mention but that company only hires left-handed Hispanics who play the bagpipes, but here's another job working in a salt mine 16 hours a day for minimum wage, that sounds like a perfect fit for you.

The moral is: Don't waste your time comparing an actual offer to an advertisement or the recruiters vague promises. Compare an actual offer to other actual offers.

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This reminds me of a quote: "People are rarely truly against you. They are all just for themselves, and often that doesn't align with what everyone else wants." – Ethan The Brave Feb 12 at 14:17

Often the positions have a flat placement fee with a bonus for pay rates in the lower end. It depends on the recruiter contract. And as has been said it is also better to get a placement than not. It could also be that there are multiple candidates and a lower rate might tip the scales in your favor, or the recruiter might think it could.

You can say no. If they are going to hire you 2k a year or even 5k a year is unlikely to affect that, when you have already communicated your expectations. Personally, I never drop my rate. Once asked and I give my rate I refuse to negotiate for less. If the company wants to make an initial offer then I am more willing to negotiate. But I also walk away if the initial number is too low. Basically if their number is not within 15% of my bottom line then I do not counter. I will suggest that if they have a more senior position come up in the future please consider me. No company is going to come up that much in the first place and if they do then they were not the type of company I want to associate with anyway.

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+1: For refusing to counter a low-ball offer. – Jim G. Feb 11 at 19:42
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Once I had a company increase their offer by 15%. I had told them I wanted to think about things for a couple days (hoping for another offer, although I didn't tell them that) and they called back with the higher offer. Being unemployed, I coudn't turn it down (the other offer didn't come). I found out that: A) they pulled this trick with everyone who didn't jump at their initial offer. B) Theirs was a lousy place to work. – GreenMatt Feb 11 at 21:10

From what I've read it seems that most recruiters are commissioned. For most recruiters, does that commission depend on the salary range for the job, or does it depend on the actual salary at which I am placed into the job?

Typically, the recruiters commission is based on a percentage of the salary you accept.

Does anyone who knows the inside business of recruiting know of any way that they might actually be making more money off of placing me at a salary below the stated range?

The recruiter may not be a "primary" recruiter for this company, and is offering this below-stated-range candidate (you) as a way of getting in the company's good graces. It also might be the only way for the recruiter to get a commission at all.

Is this a common practice for candidates who are rusty or deficient in the required skills for a job?

Not in my experience. I've never hired someone at below the stated minimum. And I've never been offered a job at below the stated minimum.

Generally speaking, if a recruiter asks you to accept a lower salary than the stated range for a direct hire position should you be concerned that they doing that to look after themselves instead of you?

Unless you are working with a fee-based placement service (in which case he would be specifically working for you), a recruiter is always looking out for himself first. Typically, they are looking out for the company second and for you last - all in varying proportions.

There's nothing about presenting you at a low salary that changes anything here.

I've worked with a particular recruiter for years. He understands what I want, has been able to show me good candidates when I was hiring, and find me good positions when I wanted to be hired. That said, I always understood that he did his job primarily for his own benefit - that's as it should be.

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I think what some of them do is to build a pool on both sides. I've seen them call around with seemingly non-existent positions, just to collect resumes. And I've had them call me asking if I have any openings for certain stellar individuals who end up not being available after all. If they get a bite on either end, then they scramble to find a match on the other side.

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