Professional Business Recruiters

Cite this article as:"Professional Business Recruiters," in The Business Professor, updated November 7, 2019, last accessed July 9, 2020,


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In this article, we discuss some important things you need to know about business recruiters and how they can assist you in your job/career search.

  • What is a business recruiter?,
  • For whom does the recruiter work?
  • How are they compensated?,
  • How does the recruiter operate?, and
  • Pros and Cons of Using a Recruiter.

What is a Business Recruiter?

A recruiter is a professional, hired by one or more companies seeking to fill open positions, who seeks to locate, screen, prepare, and nominate candidates for positions within one or more companies. If a nominee gets an interview, the recruiter will often help prepare the interviewee for the position.

For Whom Does a Recruiter Work?

The first thing to remember is that a recruiter works for a company that hires him or her to fill positions. While the recruiter may appear to be your agent in the recruitment process, she really works for the company. It is, however, in her best interest to find suitable candidates to nominate for an interview. As such, she generally works diligently on behalf of the applicant to be in a position to impress the company.

A recruiter can internal or external to a company.

  • Internal Recruiters – An internal recruiter (often referred to as a “Corporate Recruiter”) is an employee of the company and generally works in human resources. The company is the internal recruiter’s only client. They search for candidates to potentially fill existing or new roles in the company.
  • External Recruiters – An external recruiter is not an employee; rather, s/he is an independent contractor to a company. The recruiter contracts with a company (and often contracts with numerous companies at the same time) to fill positions specified by the company. A “retained recruiter” generally has an exclusive contract with a given employer. That is, the company will work exclusively with this recruiting firm to identify candidates. Companies often use retained recruiters for executive searches or searches of high-level managers.
    • Contingency recruiters” do not generally have an exclusive contract with the company. They are independent agents who are working diligently to identify candidates. The company retains the option of working with multiple recruiters or recruiting firms.
    • Contained Recruiters” generally have an exclusive contract with the employer but there is still a level of contingency in whether they must complete the employer’s search.

Also, the recruiter may be third-party business that is staffed inside of a corporate client as a contractor. In this scenario, they are not legally an employee, but they serve the same function and role as an employee. Staffing agencies often serve as recruiting firms. They may work externally to the business or staff a contractor to the company to undertake this role from within.

How is the Recruiter Paid?

Recruiters are compensated by the company seeking to bring in new employees. The applicant does not pay the recruiter. There are, however, several models by which a recruiter gets paid. These are based upon whether the recruiter is internal or external.

  • Internal – As previously stated, an internal recruiter is often an employee. She will be paid a salary. There is generally no additional commission or fee paid to her for successful identifying an applicant who is ultimately hired. If the recruiter works internally but is independent or a contractor to the company, she may receive a commission or fee for finding a candidate who is ultimately hired.
  • External – External recruiters are generally compensated with a fee for finding a candidate who the company ultimately hires. A “retained recruiter” is generally paid a set fee up front. Generally, the fee is up to 50% of the value of the first year salary. A “contingent recruiter” will only be paid if they are able to nominate a candidate that is ultimately hired. The amount paid is generally calculated as a dollar value or % (generally 10-30%, depending on the nature of the position) of a candidates first years’ salary or hourly wage. As previously mentioned, contained recruiters receive a mixed compensation. They receive a fee up front with a contingency fee paid upon hiring of a candidate.
    • Note: The fee received by the recruiter does not affect the amount of compensation for the position offered. That is, the fee or commission paid is covered by the employer and independent of the employee’s compensation.

What is a Recruiter’s Process?

  • Receive Position from Company – The company hiring the recruiter will provide the position(s) that need(s) to be filled. The recruiter will break down the job and all of its characteristics. The recruiter needs to know everything that a potential candidate would want to know about this position. Some basic information might include: company information, job title, job duties, desired characteristics of an employee, work conditions (work hours, start date, flexible schedules, etc.), reporting chain (individuals, management style, etc.), promotion potential/career trajectory, salary range, benefits (bonus, vacation, insurance, retirement benefits, etc.), the reason the role is open (new position, employee leaving, etc.).
  • Post the Position – Recruiters then distribute the job posting through a number of job platforms, job boards (company and external), social media sites, etc. This tactic is the passive approach that allows interested candidates to reach out to the recruiter.
  • Find Candidates – Recruiters take an active approach in searching for candidates for the position. Approximately 90% of recruiters search for potential applicants through LinkedIn. The recruiter will use search functions to find candidates whose profile matches the requirements for the job. Visit our article, LinkedIn to learn how to effectively use this system to find jobs and show up on recruiter radars. All recruiters, however, use some form of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to sort, filter, evaluate, and rank candidates.
  • Contacting Candidates – The recruiter will evaluate applicants for the position through job postings. They will also reach out to qualified candidates who show up in search results to determine if they have interest in the position. The recruiter is gauging interest, screen employees who do not appear to have the qualifications (check knowledge to resume), social skills, or who do not appear to fit in the organization. The recruiter will generally set up a phone or video-conference interview. In some types of searches (such as executive search), the recruiter will set up in-person interviews.
  • Nominate Candidates – Once the recruiter is comfortable that she has identified a sufficient number of quality applicants, she will present these candidates to the employer with a recommendation for interview. This generally goes much further than just forwarding resumes. They talk with the employer about the candidate, their qualifications, their personality, etc. The employer will decide on which candidates (if any) to interview.
  • Interview – If any of the nominated candidates receive an offer to interview, the recruiter will work with the candidate to prepare. This may include, mock interviews, helping identify interview questions, identifying interviewers, providing the candidate additional information about the company or position, etc. The recruiter will also provide information to the company and seek to facilitate the interview process. The recruiter acts as somewhat of a go-between the applicant and employer.
  • Hiring – If the company/employer makes an offer to one of a recruiter’s candidates, the recruiter may be involved in the employment negotiation process. Generally, the recruiter serves as an advisor to the job applicant – providing additional information as needed. The recruiter can also serve as an agent for the employer in providing additional information to the applicant in the negotiation process. If, an applicant interviews and is not offered the position, often it falls on the recruiter to inform the applicant. This allows the recruiter to maintain a relationship with the applicant for any future positions.
  • On-Boarding – Once hired, the recruiter may also play a role in preparing the applicant for the on-boarding process. Internal recruiters generally play a far more active role in this process than do external recruiters. The recruiter may serve as an advocate for the new employee during the initial on-boarding, as the employee may be hesitant to voice concerns or issues.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Recruiter

There are numerous up and downsides to using a recruiter. The most frequently identified are as follows:


  • The recruiter works for your benefit without you paying them.
  • Recruiters have access to jobs that are not necessarily publicly posted.
  • A recruiter is a referral that can get in front of the hiring manager. This is a big advantage over applying blindly without any referral.
  • It saves you time in the job search.
  • Many help you prepare for the interview.


  • Recruiters often nominate multiple candidates for the position.
  • Some recruiters are not very knowledgeable in particular industries. You may have to educate the recruiter when you have very esoteric or technical skills that the recruiter does not understand.
  • Some recruiters are not highly professional in their operations. For example, some recruiters just fish for resumes without knowing anything about the candidate. They will not follow up or provide feedback to the applicant. It’s up to the applicant to do the research on the recruiter.

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