I have been told that our starting salary offer was being reduced by our recruitment agency.

The name of the company that offered the job did not indicate that it was a recruitment agency, but when I was hired the sent me to another company to work so I must have been talking to a recruitment agency.

I am wondering if I can avoid recruitment agencies and if they are necessary from the point of view of the worker?

What advantages does a recruitment agency offer to the worker?

  • For large companies, they can be a way of life. Smaller companies aren't as strict. This isn't an absolute, just a trend.
    – MathAttack
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 9:46
  • 1
    I removed the rant parts of the question and the call out links. I also improved and focused the question. Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 11:03
  • 1
    I think I clearified what was meant by the first half of your question
    – Rarity
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 11:16
  • Avoiding agencies is easy: ask anyone you can't identify as part of a standalone company if they're a recruitment agency.
    – Blrfl
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 11:18

3 Answers 3


Recruitment agencies typically provide a service for companies that have a hard time finding and acquiring talent. Depending on the contract, the company will ask for help from the recruiting agencies to interview people for a position, and when the company found a suitable match and an offer of employment is accepted, they will pay either a small recurring fee based on the annual salary of the employee or a large one time fee (Eg. 20% of 1 year salary). Both parties are happy with the arrangement and the company doesn't have to pay any money unless the recruiter finds a candidate that they like and were able to hire.

The other scenario is that the recruitment agency hires you directly as an employee on salary or hourly contractor and bills your services out to their potential clients. They will typically charge the client double or more of what they ultimately pay you.

The important takeaway that you need is that:

You are not the customer, you are the product

They are selling you which is why they tend not to treat the workers like valuable clients but more like expensive resources that they need to try and obtain.

All of this exists because the customers like this setup. They don't have to worry about devoting time and resources to constantly searching for talent allowing them to focus more on the company mission. How this benefits YOU is that if you are dealing with a good recruiter that doesn't treat you like cattle then you get much more exposure to companies that don't post job openings publicly, and you get a second pair of eyes looking for new opportunities for you as they come up.

  • 1
    That's a good, level and reasonably unbiased answer. Some of the bad-will, rants and anger towards recruiting agencies I think stems from people not understanding how they operate (and why). Of course, a lot of bad-will also comes from a lot of agencies being nimrods at what they do and fail to grasp even the most fundamental aspects of "talent management".
    – pap
    Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 12:57
  • @pap Oh I completely agree... see my answer to this question... workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/1051/… Commented Jun 7, 2012 at 15:01

Recruiters provide a good and valuable service.

I think the answer to your question is:

"you should avoid some recruitment agencies"

Look to use recruiters and agencies that:

  • You meet in person through meetups, user groups, etc.
  • Other people recommend you to
  • Work internally in the actual company as recruiting full-time [Note this cannot be asserted from their email as many companies now "give" external recruiters "internal" addresses.]
  • Are willing to tell you the company name up front.
  • Don't "require" a word resume (see other posts on that).

Look to avoid ones that:

  • Approach you cold
  • Seem to have a fairly generic intro or email,e g "I thought your set of skills would be a great match... blah blah" without actually saying which skills in particular and why you would be a good fit.
  • Are very focused on adding you to their database for the future.
  • Are, or work for a huge organization. I personally block cybercoders for example but that's just my opinion. I won't flame them here. do your own research.

Avoiding Recruiting Agencies

I work for small companies as a contractor out of my house. 'Small' means businesses with 10 to 100 employees. In some situations I have someone who is an 'agent', he found me the work, he pays me, and he marks it up and passes it on. This individual is highly knowledgeable in the IT world. Many of my clients come straight out of Craigslist. However, I have A) about 40 years experience doing this, and B) I tend to take on work that would terrify a lot of developers: various kinds of reverse engineering, and work that involves rarely used databases, complex stored procedures, or users that can't articulate what they want.

I get approached all the time from 'body shop' recruiters, usually to work full time on site. I tell them I have commitments until the middle of next year (more or less accurately), check back then. They usually do, and I'm still busy with newer commitments. There are circumstances that I get ugly with recruiters, but probably anyone else would given the same provocation.

Using Recruiting Agencies

Some large companies do all their recruiting through agencies, or all recruiting of certain types through these agencies. This is particularly common if the company goes through periodic cash squeezes and has to discharge full timers.

Often recruiters are 'try before you buy': you work through one until the employer is satisfied you'll work out, then they move you to direct employment. Usually ads say as much, 'temp to hire' is common.

Some of the resume submission websites of major employers in the computer industry are a mess. If you're running into that the companies probably use recruiters and would rather use their software talent on more pressing concerns.

Some people may find the following statement controversial, and it isn't always true: Big companies will hire from big recruiters. Therefore, if you want to work for a company with thousands of employees go through a recruiter that places thousands of people and has offices all over the country. Medium sized companies will tend to deal with smaller offices and more 'regional' actors. Of course, what looks to you like a 'large' company may be a holding company with subsidiaries all over the country, this would be true for radio and TV properties, for instance. Thus in the corporate sense they are 'medium sized'.

Recruiters To Avoid

If they tell you the position pays a given salary and they take their 'cut' out of that salary and pay you the remainder, then they lied. The appropriate thing to do is demand they pay you what they promised, or leave if they don't. In some states, you could report this to state agencies that arbitrate pay claims.

If they don't know your market (i.e., someone that normally places clerks tries to place you in an IT job) they will do all kinds of goofy stuff. Make sure the company (not just the individual recruiter) is overall focused on the kind of role you intend to fill. I remember in one circumstance telling a placement firm I had just been working on a military base and they said 'We don't place ex-military contractors, they don't know what they're doing'.

If you see a picture of someone who looks like someone born and bred in the US, but the language sounds more like it's from Europe or South Asia, just kill the email or posting. Don't even reply. Don't link to the site. Nothing.

I received an invite on LinkedIn, I told the lady I would meet her in person before I accepted the invite, and we had a pleasant 15 minute conversation. Once I accepted her posting I found out that her profile was updated every time she posted a job on bull.hn, so her profile was showing updates every day, sometimes more than once. I killed that connection in a hurry. It will be awhile before I deal with that company in any capacity.

If staff turnover at the recruiter is significant, it suggests a demoralized recruiting team, usually because the manager is making a mess. This can spill over into your space in a hurry.

In short, don't simply deal with a recruiter as a candidate 'off the street'. You need to build relationships, you need to know these people before you're looking for work, and you need to find people you trust. The good recruiters would repeat that advice verbatim.

  • +1: I tend to take on work that would terrify a lot of developers - A) I believe you. B) I'd love to know what work you're taking on. // I just looked at your SE profile; it looks like you know something about Chemistry.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 14:31
  • @JimG. The following keyword search: '1999 to 2005 work was focused on supporting a frozen food factory' gets you to my profile on LinkedIn. Send me an invite. Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 20:36

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