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From what I understand, big-name actors have agents who actively seek work opportunities for them. A good agent will find the best opportunities for an actor and work out a lot of the small details. These agents are usually paid by the actors or receive a portion of the actor's pay (or at least that's how Hollywood portrays it).

So far my experience with recruiters has been:

  • They contact me after finding me on a site like LinkedIn or StackOverflow Careers.
  • They propose one or a handful of possible job openings they think I might be qualified for.
  • I send them my resume and tell them which openings I'd like to apply for.
  • They send in my resume. At this point the process continues as if I had simply found the company myself and applied.
  • When I don't get a job offer, I won't hear back from that individual recruiter ever again. Sometimes another recruiter from the same company will contact me, and this same process starts all over again.

Is there an equivalent to an actor's agent for programmers? Or are there just recruiters like I've described above?

In other words, as a programmer, is there someone I could pay to actively search for jobs for me, who will put in a better effort than a typical recruiter?

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    Recruiters see you as a product (the client is the company, even in the case where you are headhunted (if that happens?) rather than just arbitrary spammed). So they're only in treated in you insofar as you match a position they've been contracted to fill. You're asking if you're ever the client. – Nathan Cooper Jun 17 '15 at 22:15
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    The main issue is that a films or sports teams has a limited number of roles/spots, so it makes sense investing "a lot" (of money and time) for finding the right person. For regular jobs, people are easier to replace (if you have a position that demands someone capable of delivering 200% productivity of the average worker, you can usually split that into two or three positions instead of wasting time and money searching for a "star performer"). People being easier to replace means that there is less incentive/reward for finding the "perfect" candidate. – SJuan76 Jun 17 '15 at 22:16
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This is pretty much the way it works -- the closest thing you're going to get to an agent is a recruiter. Elite performers have such high salaries that agents have an incentive to spend a lot of time in return for a small percentage. The rest of us simply don't make enough money for agents to care. Companies typically pay fees for candidates, so that's the incentive for recruiters.

If recruiters aren't calling you back after you've been declined a job offer, that could indicate that you need to work on your interviewing skills, that you need a better resume, or you just need to find better recruiters to work with. Have you tried contacting those recruiters and asking for feedback?

Waiting for recruiters to call you is not the best strategy when looking for a job. The best way is to work with other people you know to find out what companies are hiring. Your chances of getting hired are much better if you are a referral from another employee.

There are good recruiters out there -- sometimes it just takes a little work to find them. Ask people you know what recruiters they've worked with and what their experiences have been.

  • Recruiters get paid when you get a new job. Unless you are a contractor you probably don't change jobs often enough for it to be worthwhile for a recruiter/agent. Unless you want to pay them an ongoing retainer from your own pocket. – NobodySpecial Jun 18 '15 at 22:27
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Developing relationships with recruiters takes time. Some of them are good and some bad, with many shades in between. Until you prove yourself as a "money-maker" for them, you go on the back burner. When they get new jobs hot off the press, they are going to put forward guys who they know will interview well. There are many who will just throw everyone who they can find at a job, hoping someone "sticks" and there are those who develop a trust based relationship with their clients. Avoid the first type; they've probably already got a bad rep with employers and it'll transfer if they're the ones submitting your resume. The ones who are more picky about who they submit are the recruiters who you want to impress, because they are the ones their clients go to first.

That being said, finding a job these days is a numbers game. Create a stronger Linkedin presence by connecting with others in your industry. Set your tag-line to "looking for a job doing xyz". Recruiters use linkedin for finding candidates; I never have to initiate contact with them any more. When a contract ends I just set my tagline "Looking for .NET job" and they see it and start contacting me.

If you aren't getting called in for interviews, your resume is probably at fault. Getting your resume professionally rewritten costs, but it was money well spent for me. I got a lot more callbacks after letting Monster.com rewrite mine for a couple hundred dollars (yes, that was a while ago :).

If you get interviews but no offers, you have a more serious problem. You might think about taking advantage of the Unemployment office's free classes on interviewing. You may think you interview well, but people never really see us like we see ourselves, do they? Find out how you come across from someone who has no reason to be untruthful.

Unless you are willing to pay money and hire someone, no, nobody is going to advocate for you or put in hours on your behalf. That's for you to do. Scour the job boards. When you find good recruiters, work on developing good relationships with them. Call them once a week to show that you are interested and eager to do what it takes to get a job, and just to remind them that you are there. Look for companies that you would like to work for and use linkedin's search to find people already there. Ask for an introduction if you are unable to link to them directly; this is where having lots of connections comes in handy. And take advantage of what the Unemployment folks have to offer; every little advantage helps.

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