Understanding the Recruitment Model

While it may sound like we’ve lumped recruiters into a small and unlikeable package, what we really want to draw attention to is the recruitment model. Once you understand the recruitment model, you’ll understand why so many times you don’t get a message back, or don’t get a job you think you were made for. Recruiters are separate from in-house talent acquisition teams: they are hired by companies to find the ‘right’ person, and only get paid once they are found. Often, there are competing recruiters hired, and only the one who gets the approved candidate is paid at all. Recruitment agencies are essentially racing against time, and each other, to get paid by the client. And it’s you, the candidate, who can get caught in the crossfire.

So, what does a recruiter want? A recruiter wants a candidate that fits the bill, in the lower salary range that their client company dictates, who will commit in the shortest amount of time possible.

As a candidate, your best bet isn’t getting along with the recruiter, or impressing them, which is how most potential candidates approach this relationship. Your number one concern should be telling a recruiter what they want to hear.

Make Recruitment Work for You

Telling a recruiter what they want to hear doesn’t mean fabrication: it means understanding the power dynamics of the relationship and framing your experiences in a way that makes you the best candidate for the job. How do you do this?

  • Know who your recruiter works for: A recruiter may seem very friendly and responsive, but their loyalty is to their client, or the company in question which is paying them. Firstly, know that anything you say can and will be used against you.


  • Keep your plans to yourself: A casual conversation about goals can be turned into an intimate talk about where you see yourself in the next year. The thing is, this is the kind of thing you might want to hold off on telling, because recruiters want someone who is going to stick around. If you don’t complete your probation period, recruiters don’t get paid. Make sure you signal that you’re in it for the long haul.


  • Try to keep things professional: You might find yourself in a low place professionally or personally and feel desperate for a job, but don’t let a recruiter catch onto that. You need to make sure that you keep yourself in a bargaining position, and telling them you’re ready to leave your current situation at a moment’s notice will leave you without leverage.
  • Put yourself first: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by trying to please a recruiter, for example by putting a lower number down on your expected salary range. Recruiters are likely to pick the lowest number you’ve offered, and this can then play out against you if you’re picked for the job.


Know Your Rights in the Recruitment Process

A lot of the recruitment process also works around concealing information; even if this isn’t purposeful, it can shroud the whole thing in mystery.

There doesn’t have to be information asymmetry: candidates actually have the right to access all of the information on the database. You can get written evidence of all events that have taken place during the process, and you have the right to ask for evidence that you have been submitted into the candidate pool. If you’re offered a job, you can get lawyers to review contract terms for the position. Make sure you use your rights to make recruitment work in your favour, so that you can empower yourself as a candidate.

Want to know more about how to make an impression with recruiters? Check out our guide to making a personal value proposition here.