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When external recruiters work on commission, meaning that they're only paid if a candidate they've introduced is hired, will they try to pressure me into accepting any offer I receive, even if I don't think it's right for me?

If the recruiter is part of the negotiating process, should I be worried that I won't be able to negotiate well or be pushed into accepting a low-ball offer?


Note to head off duplicate votes: this question was inspired by "Are recruiters incentivized to pressure you into accepting contracts?", which I originally misinterpreted, hence this self-answered question. That question discusses contract positions versus full-time work so this is not a duplicate.

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If they are good they will.

I have a friend who was a technical recruiter for 4 years. She is an extremely good looking woman and had little tech experience. She went to training for her job and when you get an offer from a company it was her job to "close the deal". This is basically the same training any sales position gets. If recruiters were there for your interests then they would get commission based on your happiness at new job. The fact that recruiters usually are at the upper end in physical appearance shows what a salesy job it is and quite frankly shows how much money there is to be made.

To add some of my comments to the answer:

  • a recruiters job is to match you with high paying jobs in your field. If they understand math and like to make money then they will find you the highest paying job they think you will be hired for, therefore they get the most commission.

  • it is up to the person to go through the interview process and decide if the job is a good fit for them based on the information the company gives them. There is absolutely no reason that the recruiter should play more than a 5% role in the process.

  • if the recruiter is good they would encourage you to take any position. They want you to have a job and they want to make money. If my recruiter was some bumbling moron that seemed to not care I would assume that they also didn't pair me with a job that would pay me optimally too. I would be very concerned about a recruiter not trying to close the deal.

  • accepting the job should fall solely on the person. If you don't like the job that isn't the recruiters fault. That is like blaming match.com because you married a bum that you met on their site. The recruiter is just pairing you up. You make the decision. The OP does not state what their take would be if the took the job that was horrible then a month later the job turned out to be a gem. Take responsibility for your own actions and don't blame others for "influencing". It is like smokers who blame cigarette ads.

  • all the ethical things need to be taken out of the equation. There are too many variables to account for on why the recruiter wants you to accept a job. They might actually feel that the job is perfect for you and the best you could get. You might feel the opposite and think they are unethical when they are actually acting very ethical. I am not saying that is the norm because most recruiters are on par with used car salesman but what I am saying is that you getting inside their little smiling, smooth-talking head is impossible. So just take them out of the equation.

  • "was her job to "close the deal"" But not at all costs surely? I can imagine a large number of candidates that are pressured into accepting to not work out.The physical appearance also seems like a bit of a leap, I'd say they don't necessarily correlate with the good people skills required for such manipulation. – Lilienthal Dec 10 '15 at 13:57
  • @Lilienthal - what do you mean by all costs. If you are getting paid on commission then your rent money gets paid by closing deals. If your boss told you that your project was due in two weeks or you would get fired - would you get it done at all costs? Also it is a VERY WELL KNOWN fact that attractive people manipulate people easier. There is in fact a direct correlation. – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 14:19
  • Example: the company love the candidate and makes an offer. The candidate realises by now that the position is boring, below his level or otherwise not a good fit. The recruiter forces the candidate to accept. The company now has an unhappy employee who'll probably start job searching before long and is unlikely to excel in the role. If enough of those hires happen that becomes a pattern which will damage the recruiters' reputation. He's also unlikely to get repeat business from the people he placed, though I admit that I don't know how common that is in the first place. – Lilienthal Dec 10 '15 at 15:10
  • The company would blame the employee not the recruiter. We are adults and if we accept a job it is our deal. If we perform bad at job because we find it beneath us then we would be childish adults and maybe not deserving more. You are thinking that the recruiter has a bigger "job" than they actually do. They are the matchmaker. If you say "I do" to a bum that isn't their fault no matter what pressure you felt from them. I find your question and your answer a bit immature because it places blame on others for your actions. Is this recruiter still horrible if you end up liking job? – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 15:14
  • I have had some dealings with recruiters, but only once have I seen any of them. All the rest was LinkedIn contact, emails, and possibly some phone calls (although I prefer mail). In one case I've been unsure in which country the recruiter was actually based during the entire process. – RemcoGerlich Dec 10 '15 at 15:18
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If the recruiter is part of the negotiating process, should I be worried that I won't be able to negotiate well or be pushed into accepting a low-ball offer?

Yes, the World is full of unscrupulous people, be wary at all times. Whether or not in a particular instance the recruiter is thinking that way is immaterial, always assume their motivations are different from yours, because they are.

Unless you live in a perfect World.

3

Only bad recruiters will pressure candidates into accepting an offer or use other high-pressure sales tactics.

Good recruiters worry about their reputation because their livelihood rests on introducing good candidates to the companies they work with. Their ideal outcome to a hiring process is that a candidate they've introduced thrives in his new role. Forcing a bad match on a company is a sure-fire way to blow up the relationship with all parties involved. A recruiter that develops a reputation for bad hires or sleazy tactics will quickly find himself out of business.

When you're working with a new recruiter whose reputation you don't know, you should always be on the lookout for red flags, just in case. If he doesn't respect your wishes or introduces bad positions that don't match your profile or interests you should sever the relationship. You don't need the services of a bad recruiter because he's unlikely to help you land a good job.

Alison Green over on Ask a Manager has the following to say about bad recruiters:

But you can take solace in the fact that this guy isn’t likely to keep companies happy with his services for long. If he’s sending them unqualified candidates, any company with a halfway decent hiring process is going to pick up on that very quickly, and it’ll come back to bite him in the ass … with a lack of hires (which means no commissions for him) and eventually a terrible reputation and little to no business.

  • 2
    +1 : I've had a recruiter put me forward for a position where the interview went so well that they virtually offered me the job in the interview. The recruiter wanted an on-the-spot answer when he heard from them that they were preparing an offer. I had a number of other good interviews going with some excellent name firms and had just come off a bad hasty decision job. When I said I needed time to consider any offers, he said he was "withdrawing me from the position". I told him never to call me again and told everyone I knew about him. Completely unethical. Pressurising is a huge red flag. – toadflakz Dec 10 '15 at 13:14
  • This is the opposite. This is a sign of a really really good recruiter. The good recruiter which secured you a job at a company that maybe you didn't have a chance with before will also be the recruiter that closes the deal better with you. A "great" recruiter will play the strings so good that you don't even feel pressured and you feel like it is a no-brainer or a chance of a lifetime. – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 13:33
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    @blankip A well-paid recruiter maybe, but I wouldn't call it an objectively good recruiter. What you describe sounds more like an excellent manipulator. I'm sure there are some tricks I don't know but I'd like to think that I'll realise when a recruiter is pushing a position on me that's not within my salary range or interests or where I saw red flags in the hiring company. – Lilienthal Dec 10 '15 at 13:53
  • You are completely mixing up morals with job skills. A morally good recruiter may not pressure you but that also means that they probably wouldn't be a "good recruiter" and therefore lose their profession/job as a recruiter. We are not talking about a person who relies on repeat customers (you) and generally they only care about their reputations with companies. A recruiter's job is to find you a job at max salary so that you get paid more and so do they. If they are doing something different from that they aren't good. After they do their job they rely on you accepting. cont.... – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 14:23
  • ... cont... you choosing to accept a position or not is your choice. You would have to expect that a recruiter would have to be pushing you to sign off on the deal after they put in that amount of effort and rely on you signing to get paid. It would be like a real estate agent that showed you 100 houses, you found one you liked, got approved for loan and then right before the final sign-off you backed out because you didn't like the house. The real estate agent might be morally right to let you do this but they soon won't have an income. – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 14:26
1

That is entirely up to you. A recruiter may or may not try to influence your decision but there is nothing the recruiter can do to pressure you.

The recruiter has absolutely no leverage over your decision unless you voluntarily give him/her some. Any any point you can say "thanks, not no thanks" and move on.

  • 3
    Err no, people get railroaded by recruiters all the time, either into the wrong role, or for a suboptimal deal to get the recruiter their commision. People will agree to things they don't want often, surveys often have condradictory questions to filter people who just agree, and many recruiters are like realtors or used car dealers, do anything for a deal. – The Wandering Dev Manager Dec 10 '15 at 8:30
  • Have you any evidence to back up this anecdote? What pressure can a recruiter apply to force someone to take a position they don't want? – Laconic Droid Dec 10 '15 at 21:01
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It is difficult go be successful in any type of sales position if you have an extreme aversion to pressuring, encouraging, asking and continue to push people to buy you goods and services even if it means they may not like you. Of course they can go too far and offend people, but they can't operate under the assumption that they should never do anything that will make a potential buyer a little uncomfortable.

This is what being a closer is all about. People get nervous and oftentimes don't make a decision to buy, that doesn't automatically mean it is in the buyer's best interest. We all get a little nervous switching jobs. Few opportunities are 100% perfect fits. They all come with wrinkles and blemishes.

If I thought you could do the job, I would continue to ask you to reconsider. I would dig deeper why you don't want to take it and make suggestions to ease your apprehension. During the early stages of the interview process, I would not push as hard, but it the company wants to make you an offer, I'm going to do what I can to get you to accept if I think you're a good fit. I would not 100% base that on what you think.

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