During your job search you should use any and all tools available to land that position. One of those tools can be recruiting agencies. Recruiters generally fall into two very different categories. The first being employment agencies that normally focus on entry level to middle management positions and temporary or seasonal employment. The second type of recruiters being retained search firms that specialize in specific industries for senior level positions. The two are very different in the way they recruit and also charge for their services.
Recruiting agencies charge a fee to the employer when a candidate they referred is hired. The recruiter will do the prescreening and send a group of candidates to be interviewed and screened by their client company. The fee that is charged to the company if they hire one of the referred candidates can range anywhere from 5% to 30% of the employee’s first years salary. This payment arrangement works since the positions they are filling can normally be done in a relatively short period of time because of them primarily being entry level in nature.
Retained search firms are a much different animal and are hired by a company for a specific amount of time and initial fee. They are paid as a consultant whether they fill a position or not. If they do fill a position they are then paid an additional fee along the lines of the recruiting agency. Retained search firms act more as an employee of the company.
The reason companies retain firms is for those hard to find positions that need to be filled that take time and money. The search firm needs some initial capital to fill these more specialized positions. Retained firms are normally looking to fill positions that have salaries of $125,000 a year to millions of dollars.
Whatever type of recruitment firm you do decide to work with you should never sign any type of exclusive agreement with them. You should also never pay for a recruiter. That should be coming from the potential employer.
For over a decade David J. Clemen has helped thousands of people find gainful employment through job search coaching. David is currently a contributor to How To Start Your Job Search