I had a conversation with my friend regarding a job search. He told me I should never communicate with a recruitment agency.

He said many times they don't have any agreement with the company they are trying to hire someone for. When they have a candidate after then they approach the company and try to offer him but first, they negotiate a price. So basically when they post a job offer it doesn't mean that the job position is real.

Is it really true that the job postings from recruitment companies don't actually exist? It is only the way to get a list of potential candidates and use them to sell them if something really comes up?

What value do recruiting agencies/headhunters actually offer to me when I am searching for a job?

  • 2
    no, headhunting is not a giant scam, but that being said I've never been convinced one of them can offer me what an open listing can't. Interested in answers to this.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:40
  • 3
    Does it happen yes. Are most ads out there scams No. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:41
  • 2
    Many small companies don't have HR departments and thus rely on recruiting agencies for that function.
    – ventsyv
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:09
  • Recruiters only get paid when they fill their available positions. They don't get their pay docked if they don't find you a job.+
    – user8365
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 17:34
  • @JeffO, yes but they need to have some strategy on how to be ready and get the best results.
    – Grasper
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 18:09

5 Answers 5


I can't remember the last time I got a job by approaching the company directly. Every single one has been through a recruiter.

There may be outliers and there are occasional unethical people and companies. That's just life. But I don't think your friend really has much of a clue.

Is it really true that the job postings from recruitment companies don't actually exist?


It is only the way to get a list of potential candidates and use them to sell them if something really comes up?

No. That's a waste of their time.

Typically a company has an opening and through a variety of means, a recruiter finds out about it and then sets about getting a candidate to fill it. Sometime's it's exclusive, sometimes he's competing with other recruiter.

But getting a stable of candidates in hopes of finding an open position to put them in is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard.

I like using recruiters. They're like a dating service. They match companies to candidates. A good recruiter can sell you to the company in a way that you can't do by yourself, especially if they already have a relationship with a hiring manager. They are motivated to get a good candidate because they get a commission and continued business for the next opening.

Just remember that while one one level they will advocate for you, ultimately you are your own advocate. Trust them only to a point because what they really want is to place someone for the highest rate possible. Don't let yourself be pressured and you'll be fine.

One thing that a recruiter can do that is difficult on your own and that's get your resume directly in the hands of the hiring manager without going through a "screener". The recruiter plays the role of initial screener, weeding out unsuitable candidates and in many cases the recruiter (or account manager to the hiring company) and bypasses the faceless HR person a direct contact normally requires.

  • that makes me feel better but isn't actually linkedin a stable of candidates in hopes of finding an open position which makes sense?
    – Grasper
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:44
  • 1
    as I said, my experience is the opposite. My current contract (which has been since 12/14) I got through a recruiter I've worked with twice in the past.
    – Chris E
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:53
  • My gods yes, all of this. I use them exclusively anymore, and they generally work in concert with LinkedIn. They get the information from you and from your linkedin, they compile that into a dossier to give to a potential company, the company decides if they want you. You make an impression, the recruiter calls you back and finds out where you want to be in negotiations, then they do their damndest to get you as much as possible, since that's a good chunk of how THEY get paid. Having someone who gets paid to do their best to get ME paid is a win-win. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:28
  • And remember to ask questions and make your wants/needs clear to the recruiter. And don't let the hiring company get you to say how much. Refer them back to the recruiter. Let them do their job as much as possible. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:29
  • Agreed. The recruiting industry has become more of an outsourced HR these days. The days of resume harvesting and fake jobs are long gone. +1 Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 17:31

Do recruitment agencies, or headhunters, offer anything of value to job seekers?


They offer the discovery of potential jobs that you otherwise may not be able to find on your own. Sometimes, they are not publicly listed jobs. Other times they are jobs which are not yet listed.

And they often offer access, particularly if they have a long relationship with their client companies.

Good ones can offer you insight into the hiring company, their culture, their payscales, the hiring manager, etc.

You get to decide how much value you personally place on what they are offering. You may have a sufficiently strong network such that you don't need their services. In that case, their incremental value might be low.

In the past, I've used an agency as both a candidate and as a hiring manager. I got to know one particular agent, who specialized in my field, over time. I trusted him on both sides of the equation. He didn't always find me the job I ultimately chose (sometimes I found one on my own), but I never had any reason not to trust whatever he told me.

So basically when they post a job offer it doesn't mean that the job position is real.

That may be true in some cases (perhaps your friend is a headhunter and that's the way his company does business), but it is certainly not true in all cases. In my experience in my locale it is not true in the vast majority of cases. Perhaps your locale is different.

Your original title was: "Is it true we shouldn't trust recruitment agencies?"

I think it would be foolish to choose not to trust any recruitment agencies at all.


Like any profession, recruiters run the gamut from incredibly skilled to completely incompetent.

A decent recruiter will absolutely add value to your job search. An incompetent one will waste a lot of your time. Treat a recruiter like any professional service (auto mechanic, plumber, contractor, etc). Gauge their professionalism and trust them accordingly. If they can't follow simple directions or try to sell you jobs that make no sense for your goals, fire them.

With that said, don't trust your entire job search to recruiters. Recruiters are just one avenue to getting a new position. A rough set of areas to focus on in order of the amount of time you should invest in each avenue:

  1. Your professional and personal network
  2. Focused search on specific companies/positions you're interested in
  3. Broad search for roles you're interested in
  4. Recruiters

This certainly happens, but is more common in the training-to-job sector, where the recruiter provides training with a promise of a job at the end. Usually this is a service the applicant pays for and pays for MORE if they walk away before the "guaranteed" job is found. These companies usually benefit more financially from you giving up than 'selling' you, unfortunately...

They present themselves as recruiters, but they are really not.

Source: personal experience

  • I have similar experience but I never went to those training for obvious reasons, didn't have money.
    – Grasper
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:57
  • @Grasper I had been out of a job for nearly a year straight out of college and was truly low on options. I don't regret what I did, just what scumbags they were.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 17:00

This depends on the vacancy, in my experience applying directly to the company through their website is the best approach. However if a position is being filled by a recruiter then be sure to do your homework. Research the company on the job specification, check their career page to see if the vacancy actually exists, companies who are actively recruiting will always have open positions listed clearly on their website.

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