Working in HR means that I receive calls – by the dozen – every day from recruiters wanting to place candidates with me. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell them that my turnover is incredibly low and that I have a list of retirees that I call when the receptionist goes on vacation.

I’ve stopped returning the calls. I know they are only doing their jobs and they know I am not likely to call them back. Most just want to make sure I remember them just in case.

Even so, I still have some negative feelings from a decade ago, when I went to half a dozen recruiters in my job search. It took me nine months after graduation to find the perfect job – and I found it by answering an ad in the Chicago Tribune.

I felt the recruiters were either trying to place me in positions that I didn’t want or ignoring me altogether. One started ignoring me five minutes after I quit the job that she pressured me to take. I wish someone had given me this advice (from MSN Careers):

Louise Kursmark, author of “15-Minute Cover Letter,” says the most important thing to remember about recruiters is that they don’t work for you; they work for hiring companies.

“They are not ‘your’ recruiter and will not try to ‘find a job for you.’ That said, recruiters can be your best friends during a job search — provided you have the skills, experience and industry expertise their client is looking for,” Kursmark says.

This piece of advice has come back to me in several forms over the last few years. In any business relationship – financial planner, attorney, recruiter – make sure you know who is footing the bill. Whoever is paying is the true “client”. That knowledge makes a big difference in perspective.

I am not saying that recruiters are bad, or that they won’t care about you. Just that understanding their purpose, which is to find candidates for hiring employers, might save you some frustration. In the scope of a job search, recruiters are just one resource. My advice is use it, but don’t count on it.

You can read the full text of the article here.

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