I see many job agents online. These agents get paid by companies for placing people with the companies. In order words, the companies are the boss of the job agents/recruiters.

Do any companies focus on the opposite, which is to actively help job seekers find suitable jobs (even for a fee)?

  • 2
    I have heard of some companies that charge a fee to the person searching, but mostly they are scams. Reputable companies don't hire them. I wouldn't waste my money even if I found such a company.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 5, 2013 at 18:29
  • Related Question: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/2294/16 Sep 5, 2013 at 18:44
  • 2
    @Chad: IMO, that question and this one are different enough to be kept as separate. Also, that question was closed, so no new input will be coming unless it is re-opened.
    – GreenMatt
    Sep 5, 2013 at 18:56
  • 1
    If you have a disability(in some cases this may include anxiety, depression as well as physical limitations), there may be organizations that work to help place you in a job and thus would be closer to what you want.
    – JB King
    Sep 5, 2013 at 19:15
  • I did not VTC just pointed the question out since the answers might be relevant. Sep 5, 2013 at 21:13

6 Answers 6


In some fields this is normal. People use agents to find them positions. These tend to be talent based (writers, actors, musicians, athletes), and/or very high paying.

The issue is that in order to be effective the agent has to have connections. Otherwise they are just a person who searches websites and job listings. Due to the fact they do this all the time successful job finders would be efficient at searching for positions, interpreting the requirements, and crafting a response.

They would need to have a constant stream of clients to be able to make sure they can earn enough money. Most clients would only need their services every few years.

The other approach is to act as a representative of a company to find talent, and that is the model that most people experience.

The places where is does work are in placement offices at colleges, or when the large employer is shutting a plant and wants to help the laid off employees find a job. But there they have a large number of customers, but the funding is not directly from the customers.


Executive Summary

At the end of the day, a recruiter needs to have the blessing of the employer even if the employee is paying. If employers will not speak to the recruiter, he cannot get jobs for his customers, and he will quickly lose customers and reputation.

'Reverse Recruiting' doesn't make much business sense.

The Recruiting Gig

So what do recruiters actually do?

A company has an open position. If they just invite resumes, they will get the equivalent of the C+ student with no extra-curriculars who applies to Harvard (you know, just in case). Unlike Harvard they don't charge to file an application, which just aggravates the problem. They don't want to charge, because then truly qualified candidates will resent having to pay since it implies the company is doing them a favor by reading their resume, and will just find another job.

So they hire recruiters to refine the pool of applicants. Recruiters are working with dozens of companies to do the filtering, so an unqualified candidate for one position isn't necessarily a total loss for the recruiter if they can find another open position that the candidate may be good for.

One-Way Street

Let's say I want to work at Ford, Chrysler, or General Motors. None of them are actively recruiting me. I have applied to the jobs on their website with no luck. I have talked to recruiters to see if they have any jobs in one of those companies, but haven't had success there either.

What would a reverse recruiter do in this situation?

If I am not qualified, taking my money to send my resume to those companies will only serve to make the companies pissed off at the reverse recruiter. After all, they didn't want me when I applied the first time, and now this reverse recruiter is bothering them with me again. This means the reverse recruiter has not only failed his client, but he's also pissed off three companies who will likely not consider any potential candidates he approaches them about (or even answer his calls/e-mails).

If I am qualified, then I would have already gotten the job through the existing system. Either they would have looked at the resume I submitted and sent me a reply, or if I was filtered by a stupid computer system, the recruiters would probably have info about the opening and be more than happy to pass along my resume (and fix whatever error got me excluded in the first place). If I had still somehow slipped through, what would make the reverse recruiter any different from a normal recruiter (other than the fact that he is getting paid by me instead of the company?).

In order to make this line of business even worth considering, a reverse recruiter would have to charge more to the clients than a business would pay to fill the position, since the chance of success is smaller. And who will use these reverse recruiters? The most likely would be unqualified people desperate for a job -- the people least likely to even be considered by companies in the first place.


So it doesn't make much business sense to be a 100% reverse recruiter.

What makes things worse is that unlisted position openings are often filled by networking (like bonuses to employees who find an opening for a position). So the reverse recruiter is competing with people who are already involved with the companies, and who have the natural filter of friendship working for them in finding qualified candidates.

The closest thing to a real reverse recruiter would be a career counselor. Someone who you go to who helps brush up your resume, look for job openings, and give you advice on how to appeal to each company (and perhaps even put you in contact with someone there).


If you find a good third party recruiter then they get paid only when they place an employee. That means that while they get paid by the company they have an interest in selling you to the company. There are many staffing firms and Consulting companies that specialize in this.

The key to success is to know what you want out of a position, do not be afraid to say no if the offer does not meet your needs, and cultivate relationships with the recruiters. If you know what you want to make and do they can find you a position(provided you are qualified). Many times they will try to convince you to take positions that you know are not right for you. You will not be happy there so accepting that position solves the short term need of a job, but does not help you find a position you can grow with long term. For this reason it is best to look while you already have a position so you have the freedom to say no to jobs that are not the right fit.


As HLGEM's comment says, there are such companies. The general advice I've heard is to avoid them. However, I haven't used such services, so won't offer more comments about them.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that most recruiting services hired by employers just line up candidates with interviews where the resumes and the employer's required skills line up, regardless of any other circumstances. For example, I once had a recruiter set up an interview with an employer who did work in an industry in which I didn't want to work and which would have required an intolerable commute (or relocation).

That said, you can sometimes find a recruiter who is willing to work with you to find a job that is a good fit for you. You may have to be patient (and lucky!), but make it clear you're looking for a good fit and don't want to waste anyone's time.

Also, If you're looking for a job, a couple other possibilities are:

  • If you are a recent college/university graduate, your school probably has a placement office that can help you find employment.
  • Some local governments have services which can help people find jobs. The suburban town in which I live has such.
  • Why the downvote?
    – GreenMatt
    Sep 7, 2013 at 1:48

I think your premise is that for each position available, there is only one recruiter trying to fill it. If they had an exclusive account, you would be correct in that their interest in the candicates is spread over several of them, so you may think they're more interested in servicing the client that is paying them. This doesn't give an accurate depiction of the process nor the industry.

Often multiple recruiters are trying to fill the same position. You may not be the only recommendation a given recruiter makes, so it is in their interest that you are the candidate that is most likely to get hired.

I've worked with a few and the good ones go out of their way to make sure you are prepared for the interview. If you look bad, it makes them look bad even if someone else gets hired.

If I used a recruiter to help fill a position, I would be very suspect if they brought in only one acceptable candidate and the others were completely unfit. Anyone would prefer to pull from a larger set of quality candidates.


Such companies do exist but provide slightly different services than recruiters hired by a prospective employer. They don't keep job listings or match you with a specific position but provide training on how to update your resume or activate your network, interview coaching, help plan a career change or identify industries or companies that hire people with your profile, provide information on other resources available in your area, etc.

Typically, their services would be paid for by the previous employer of the job-seeker, as part of the severance package. I suspect providing something like that might be a legal requirement in some European countries when closing a division/firing several people for economic/strategic reasons (as opposed to some fault of the employee). I based this answer on a specific example, from Switzerland, but I have no idea how common it is in general.

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