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Job Search Tip #1 – Recruiters Are Like Bankers….

Part of an ongoing series of  job search tips to be presented over the next 100 days.

by Todd Oldfield, 22 Year Recruiting Veteran, 


“Recruiters are Like Bankers. The More You Need Them; the Less They Can Help.”

– Todd Oldfield

 Ok. I know as soon as I bring up this topic, recruiters are going to begin challenging my thinking, my logic, my reasoning. Regardless, I believe the following is straight on, the real world, how it is, so those recruiters can bite me.  LOL (Just kidding. I bruise.)

So, let’s talk about what a recruiter CAN and CANNOT do for you. Keep in mind that in the body of this article we are discussing only the majority of the cases; not every case; not every industry; not every profession. 


You have to think about a the profession of being a recruiter; you will see that we are similar to that of a banker (a loan officer, primarily). Argh. When you need a banker; need a loan; or just need a little help, especially these days; very often times, they will not approve that loan or help in any way.

Conversely, when you have plenty of money and have no need to borrow, you have bankers coming out the wazoo throwing credit cards, loans at you from every direction. Have you ever noticed that? (Bankers really do not work for you. In fact, your best probability for financial success is to take advice that bankers give you and do just the opposite, 100% of the time. We can talk about that another time though.


Ouch. I hate saying that (being a recruiter). The truth to the matter is this; those that need the help of a recruiter the most are usually the people that are not going to have their voice mails even returned by a recruiter, and those that do not need a recruiter, are going to be hounded by recruiters till the day they die.

Do you get why

First, you have to understand why we exist. You do not pay us for our help. Do you? I mean, in 22+ years I have never had a check sent to me by a job-seeker (not even after they borrowed money from me, I might add.  LOL)  Do not EVER presume to think that we work for you or on your behalf. Sure, if you want to mail me $15,000 (“certified checks” only please. LOL), I will maybe work for you, but until then forget it. My clients are companies. When I call someone, it’s because I am acting on behalf of a company I represent. 

We (recruiters); ALL work for companies, not job-seekers. While we may love job-seekers, respect job-seekers, and even look out for them, ultimately, it is COMPANIES THAT MAIL US OUR CHECKS.

Why do they pay us? Why do they do it? They pay us a fee (because we are industry experts connected to a lot of people in THEIR industry) to go and find a very specific candidate for a very specific job with a very specific list of skills requirements. Very often even, my clients will even give me the names of their top 3-4-5-10 competitors and ask me to find the the most talented employee at one of those specific companies, so that they can hire them away, increasing their firm’s own abilities, and hurting their competition at the same time.

Get it?

Guys, we cannot take square pegs and force them into round holes. We cannot we take mediocre candidates and present them to our clients, either. We CANNOT take people with no skill in a specific area and help them “get their foot in the door” into a new profession or industry. We cannot help them get into sales if they are a nurse, or the EHR/EMR industry if they have no experience in the industry. 


We actually call cherries “MPC’s”. An “MPC” is a “Most Place-able Candidate”.

Factor this into your noggin, too. If a client says “we want 5-10 years experience” it does not mean that we can subit ZERO years experience. We cannot usually even send in a candidate with 5 years experience. We need 10.

If they say “we need ‘X’ skill and ‘Y’ skill, and ‘Z’ skill would be preferred” it means we can only submit candidates with ‘X’, ‘Y’, AND ‘Z’ skills. Get it?

We gave to submit candidate’s that largely EXCEED their hopes. That is how we justify our existence. You have to be better than what we need if you want to hold our attention. You have to be a cherry.

If you are trying to change professions or industries or careers, a recruiter just can not help you. It does not matter that most of your skills or at least some of your skills are transferable. A company pays us to present a candidate that can hit the ground running the moment they hire them, and they begin employment.

HOWEVER; if you have a very specific skill that you have mastered, and you are looking for a job just like the one you have now with the same tasks, responsibilities, obligations, etc, locally (in some cases) or somewhere else (more likely) and you have contacts, training, and are realistic in your compensation requirements, you might be able to engage the services of a recruiter to assist you in locating companies in your field, that might need you. The biggest key is that you have to have the ability to walk into that new job with nearly zero help, very little assistance, and very little training. And, you have to be able to walk in with the ability to be a SUPER STAR performer in that job.

If you can do that, then we CAN help you. You are an MPC 


Another irony is that if you get a lot of recruiting calls, the less likely that you need a recruiter. These guys would not be calling you if you were NOT a really successful, marketable job-seeker, would they?

If recruiters never call, it’s a sign that something is wrong with your marketability. Maybe you have a bad employment record (too many jobs in too short a period of time) or maybe it is hard to clearly see where your worth lies (to ambiguous a skill-set or trying to be a jack of all trades), or maybe you just have a really crappy resume that makes you look like a real bonehead. It’s either that or you are working in a dying industry where there are no recruiters.

If recruiters are not calling, you have to  be real with yourself and seek out some guidance. Do it the right way though. When you call, tell them;

I am a highly skilled ________ with X years experience, a stable job history, all the certifications and training needed with a great network of contacts. I know you are very well connected in the industry. Would you care to look at my resume and give me your input before I contact any other recruiters?

Do this and I guarantee you will receive 100% of your calls to recruiters returned.

SIDE NOTE: Never email or call a recruiter and tell them “I have sent my resume to 100 recruiters and companies, called even more and no one will call me back.” Do you get just how wrong that is? 


If you are realistic, talented, have great abilities, great contacts within a growing industry  then you need us the least, and we are calling you the most.  LOL . And, if you need the most help, you will never hear from us.

Recruiters are like bankers. 


Recruiters are very connected within their industry or specialty (if they are any good.) They look at sometimes 100 resumes a day (Over 22+ years, that means I might have easily looked at 250,000-500,000 resumes. No wonder I am blind these days.)

They talk to a LOT of people. They know a lot of contacts; the right contacts within the right companies. Recruiters will not work with poor companies that have bad products, bad reputations, pay poorly, and treat their people like crap. Why would they? That is not a marketable type of company, right?

So, if you are a highly marketable candidate, more than likely the more exceptional recruiters will find you. When you find one that is exceptional, stay close to him/her always, forever. They can help you advance your career over 5-10-20 years.

If you took the time to read this article then I will make you a commitment of my time (where possible). Call me if you need help. I love people. I love to help. I will at the very least give you an honest assessment of your marketability as I understand your industry.

Email me at;




4 Responses so far.

  1. excellent article! well said

  2. Lora Bauman says:

    Ok, I understand what you’re saying here. But what does a new graduate need to do in order to get the experience needed when no one wants to train you? What in the world is happening to employers when this is the mentality they have? How much “quality work” is being done and who is suffering from the consequences of employees working double shifts because it’s cheaper to pay them than to hire new employees?

    • Well, it’s actually getting easier I think for new grads (depending on their chosen field). Companies would much rather hire new grads who possess no bad habits, they can pay a fraction of what they would pay for a more tenured professional, and work them till they drop. But, again, it depends on their chosen field. In nursing… they love young nurses just beginning. In technology, if you are over 25, you are a dinosaur in most eyes. In other professions like professional sales, young can be good as well, because young people are accustomed to making little, so when they begin making just $30K-$50K, it seems like the world.

      Employers just do not have the balls, in this economy to hire yet. It’s sad but it is the truth. They are just too afraid to make those decisions (not all). But, it’s not the making of the “hire decision” that scares them. It’s their fear of not making any money, and having to lay off staff. That kind of news wakens the media. They LOVE a juicy layoff. And, companies really do not want to be associated with failed plans.

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