No. You probably shouldn’t pay a recruiter to find you a job.


You can still use a recruiter or headhunter for your job search.


There are other types of services that you can pay to help you find a job that are more focused on your success.

We’ll explain the differences below.

How Do Job Recruiters Get Paid?

Explaining how job recruiters get paid also explains how they help your job search.

Recruiters can work in-house for the company they are filling jobs for and earn a salary.

Or, recruiters can work for an external, third-party firm and be paid a commission or fee determined by the hiring company.

The terms “recruiters” and “headhunters” are often used interchangeably. However, some would say there are slight differences between headhunters and recruiters.

Regardless, both recruiters and headhunters have one thing in common. They usually don’t work for the job seeker. Their focus is on finding the right candidate for the company that is paying them.

Years ago, it was more common for an applicant to pay the recruiter’s fee. That arrangement has pretty much ended.

Long story short, job seekers typically do not pay recruiters or headhunters for their services.

If you’d like to work with a recruiter or headhunter to help find you a job, by all means, connect with some. Just know that you usually are not the one hiring them and they don’t work for you.

This leads us to the pros and cons of hiring a recruiter to find a job.

What Will a Recruiting Firm Do For You?

There are quite a few benefits of using a recruiter for your job search. 

Below are some of the advantages of working with a recruiter.

1. Connect You With Hiring Companies

Recruiting agencies are likely to have active contacts with a large network of companies. And these companies are hiring!

Your resume can be forwarded to multiple companies by just one recruiter.

Pro tip: Work with recruiters who specialize in your industry. They will know which companies and jobs are a better fit for your skills.

2. Give You Access to the “Hidden Job Market”

Some jobs are only available through a recruiter.

An advantage of using a recruiter for your job search is that you may get access to jobs not listed on the usual job search sites.

Pro Tip: Recruiters with larger networks are more likely to have access to non-advertised jobs.

3. Give Feedback and Guidance

You get to tap into the recruiter’s professional experience with the hiring process.

With years of experience, they have deep insight into what works and what doesn’t in a job search.

You can use their feedback to improve your resume, cover letter, and overall job search strategy.

Pro tip: A recruiter’s job is not to formally review your resume, but take the free advice if it’s given.

4. Allow for Future Opportunities

Good partnerships with recruiters can often turn into long-term relationships. 

Being in a headhunter’s talent pool means that you may have access to better opportunities in the future. 

Pro Tip: To foster a lasting partnership, you should also actively stay in touch with the recruiter. 

5. Allow You to Try Out Temporary Positions

Recruiters can often facilitate temp-to-hire periods for you and the company to see if you are a good fit or not.

If you are able, this is a great opportunity for you to try out different positions before you commit to a long-term role. 

Pro tip: Not all recruiters and companies offer this option. Discuss this upfront if you are interested in this option. 

6. Provide Free Services

Most of the time, you won’t have to pay a recruiter for their services. 

As we explained above, the hiring company pays the recruiter, so their services to you are free.

By partnering with the agency, you are actually helping them out by being another talent in their pool. 

Pro Tip: If there is a fee charged by the recruiter, ask if they are also being paid by the hiring company. While this practice of “double-dipping” is not illegal, it may point to some ethical issues at the company.

Disadvantages of Using a Recruiting Agency

If you add hiring a recruiting agency to your job search strategy, there are some things you should be aware of.

1. You Can’t Rely Solely On a Recruiter

A recruiter or headhunter’s job is not to find you a job. Hiring a headhunter shouldn’t be your only job search strategy.

Also, the companies you really want to work for may not be part of the recruiter’s network. You will need to contact those companies on your own anyway. 

To get the most out of recruiting agencies, you should consider working with more than one. This way you increase the chances of fitting into an open position.

Pro Tip: Treat a recruiter as the “icing on the cake” in your job search. For the best results, you will need to continue your active job search even if you hire a recruiter.

2. Lack of Clarity and Attention

You can’t always be sure whether or when your application was actually submitted. 

Recruiters are busy so you may not be able to contact them as frequently as you may like about a job you need to discuss.

Moreover, it will not always be clear exactly where your resume is being sent.

Pro Tip: A recruiter isn’t obligated to give you status updates. If you aren’t given a timeframe, check in with them on a weekly basis.

3. The Third Wheel May Get In The Way

This can become a bit problematic for job seekers.

Recruiters are often under pressure to meet their quotas for job placements. This pressure can result in mismatched placements and unproductive interviews on your end.

Or, the opposite may happen depending on the recruiter. Some recruiters want the candidate they recommend to be so perfect for a role that they won’t push for an interview even if you deserve a chance.

When it comes to salary negotiation, there’s a possibility that the negotiation gets complicated with three parties involved. You can also end up getting paid less than the position deserves.

Pro Tip: Know the limitations of a recruiter and take matters in your own hands!

If recruiters aren’t paid to find you a job, let’s talk about who is.

One very important thing that you should know is that recruiters and headhunters are not the only options for you.

You can pay someone to find you a job.

Here are the types of services you can hire to help you find a job:

  • Reverse Recruiters
  • Career Coaches
  • Resume Writers

If you are looking to pay someone to take on the tasks of a job search and find a job for you, one of the best options is a managed job search service.

There aren’t many job search managers available, but our Career Finder service is an option.

A career expert will work for you instead of the hiring company. Essentially you will work with someone whose job is to find you a job.

Here are the tasks a Reverse Recruiter can perform for you:

  • Search for jobs that match your profile
  • Apply to jobs you approve
  • Digitally network on your behalf
  • Prepare you for interviews

This is much different than a job recruiter possibly matching an open position with your resume.

If you want to pay for services to find you a job, a fully-managed job search is the most comprehensive option. 

(You can find more information about paid job search options here: Can I Pay Someone to Find Me a Job?)

Key Takeaways

Now, you probably have all the answers to your lingering questions about hiring a recruiting company to find you a job.

Here’s a snapshot of the takeaways:

  • Working with a recruiter has lots of benefits like access to a large network of hiring companies and the hidden job market.
  • However, a recruiter’s role is not to be paid by you to find your next job.
  • There are other services you can hire and pay to find you a job.

Hiring a recruiter or headhunter is a great option. For more success, hire other professional job search services and you’ll be finding a job in no time!