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Recently I came across a job ad publicly posted on the internet by a recruiting agency. The agency is searching an employee to be directly hired by their client company, i.e. it is not about being employed by the agency and the workforce being sold to the client. The ad did not disclose the name of the company the job was at, but out of curiosity I tried if I could find out myself and quickly I had found it since the company is located in a rather small town and is acting in quite a specialized sector.

When browsing their career pages, I found a job ad for the same position directly posted by the company. The text was basically identical with the recruiter's ad, he only had replaced all references to the company name with "My client...". However, other than the recruiter's the company's ad did not name a contact person, just their postal address and a generic jobs@company-name.com email address.

Now I'm a bit torn between applying through the recruiting agency vs. applying directly to the company. From my point of view, the pro's of the recruiter way is that I have a direct contact person right away (not just after first contact from HR has been made) and applications pre-selected by the recruiter might be somewhat (hopefully positively) biased since they already have seen some filtering process. On the con side, the recruiter is another hurdle which could sort me out for some reason. However, I'm not sure whether one of these points would have a much greater impact onto the overall situation which would qualify for a "You better go that way than the other!" or if there are other aspects that could be of importance that I didn't recognize.

Note: My question is somehow in the vicinity of the following two:

However, it differs in two major points: I don't already have any relationship with the recruiter or the company itself, especially no contract with the recruiting agency that would somehow influence that I could contact any employer without them being involved. I also don't plan on (ab)using the recruiting agency to get in touch with the company and then work around them to cut their share. I'm just interested in the aspects that could make me prefer one way of contact over the other.

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    They have to pay a recruiter. Direct you are cheaper. – paparazzo Dec 15 '15 at 12:16
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    Also, you can command a higher rate as they save on recruiter fees – DavidB Dec 15 '15 at 13:32
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    When you are hired through a recruiter, the recruiter gets a slice of your pay. So reality is by directly hiring you, they get a better deal and so do you. – Dan Dec 15 '15 at 20:16
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It's unlikely to matter.

From the company perspective, if you're a great candidate, they'd prefer that you apply directly since that saves them the commission that would be owed to the recruiter. But that is very unlikely to affect their interest in you. If the company has already decided to work with a recruiter, it isn't going to take a less desirable candidate that happened to apply directly over a more desirable candidate that applied through a recruiter. And it is unlikely to affect you in bargaining-- the hiring manager is unlikely to be able to offer you more money if they don't have to pay a recruiter.

It is possible that a recruiter is able to give you more information about the position and what sorts of things the hiring manager is looking for than is available in the job description. Job descriptions are often rather formalized documents where a good recruiter might have had a conversation about how nice the "nice to haves" are, how flexible the hiring manager is about requirements, which requirements have the most flexibility, etc. It's possible that the recruiter would be able to use this to help you sell yourself better.

On the whole, though, it is unlikely to matter much. The odds that you get a really good recruiter that helps you enough that it's the difference between getting the job and not getting the job is pretty low. The odds that a recruiter would filter you out when you otherwise would have gotten the job, that the company's HR department would filter you out if you applied directly, or that you'd get some benefit from applying directly are all similarly low.

Since you found the job because of the recruiter's post, and assuming that you wouldn't have found the company's listing yourself, I'd say that the recruiter is doing a reasonable job of finding potential candidates and give them the benefit of the doubt. If having a direct contact makes you feel better, applying through the recruiter is perfectly reasonable. But there would be no harm in applying directly.

  • What if the company hasn't decided to work with a recruiter? As per the other answer, that can sometimes happen. Also, I think there's a pretty good chance of having a recruiter filter you out from a job you could've gotten if you don't have 100% of the "required" skills, if there's a lot of competition or if you have some past experience that would draw the attention of the company (but maybe not obviously so). – Dukeling Jul 1 '18 at 21:02
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Apply directly to the company.

You make a reasonable assumption that the recruiter is working directly with the company in question. This is not necessarily a valid assumption. As a hiring manager, I have seen positions that I have posted get re-posted by recruitment agencies with whom I have had no contact. Sometimes these agencies contact me with candidates and try to convince me to interview them. Since I didn't contact the recruiter and haven't been authorized to use a recruiter, which is an additional expense for me, I cannot consider the candidates that they put forward.

The recruiter only using the original job ad is a red flag to me. When I have used recruiters to hire in the past, they've usually written their own job ad based on the discussion that I have had with them about what I'm looking for, why I haven't been able to hire yet, and what a great candidate looks like. If they're simply reposting my existing job ad, the chances of them doing anything that adds value to the process is a lot lower.

  • You're making some interesting points here. There were other aspects that already had made me a bit suspicious about that recruiter. Their website looked quite cheap and buggy, with lots of typos and easy to see design flaws; although they had an own domain, the email address they gave was with the domain of a big email provider and stuff like that. Your description adds to that feeling that things appear a bit fishy. I have applied directly already, maybe if they invite me I'll ask them about their relationship to that recruiter... – Benedikt Bauer Dec 17 '15 at 9:24

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