Who should a recruiter’s loyalty go to, the candidate or the client?

I asked a number of recruiters who they thought their loyalty should go to, the client or the candidate.  The general consensus was that loyalty should lie with the one that pays the fees.  I have also heard many recruiters say that they don’t work for the candidates, but for their clients.  Such statements imply that the recruiter’s allegiance is with the client only.  While this thought process might work for some recruiters, there exists another group that may beg to differ.  This second school of thought is based upon the principle that, since the recruiter’s only product is the candidate, the candidate therefore is and should be king.

Let’s get it straight from the beginning

Recruiters do work for their clients.  After all, the client makes the position available and the client pays the fees.  The client also decides whether they will work with you or not.  The general ideology is that we work for those who pay us.  So commonly thinking we do work for the employer.

On the other hand, the candidate is basically everything to the recruiter.  If there is no need for the candidate, the recruiter will not exist.  Similarly, without the candidate, a recruiter has nothing to sell.     Based upon the relationships we develop, they allow us to represent them to our clients for certain positions.  In all reality, a recruiter is only as good as the candidates they can produce.  Simply stated, the candidate is the product; and even though we don’t pay for or create them, we lay an ownership to them which justifies the fees that we are paid.

So do recruiters work for their candidates too?

Recruiters do work for their candidates also.  In many cases, recruiters find candidates where an employer has no open positions.  The recruiter interviews the candidate, creates a business profile of the candidate, in many instances they help the candidate think through career decisions, make multiple calls to clients to market candidates, prep candidates for client meetings and presentations, and assists candidates with the process of accepting  job-offers and transitioning into new positions.   The recruiter also performs all the little tasks in-between that make the candidate presentable to the client, or that makes the client and their position presentable to the candidate.  When the employer decides to hire the candidate, the recruiter gets paid.  Why the candidate may not sign a check for you, they pay you by trusting you, allowing you to represent them to your clients, and staying with you throughout the recruiting process till placement is complete.  So need we still ask how recruiters benefit from candidates?

There is enough loyalty to go around

There is no question that your clients are valuable to you, and you should represent them the best you can.  However, candidates are as important to the recruiter as their clients are, and while they don’t pay you directly, you should realize the value they bring to you and your practice; and whether or not you have a position available for them, treat the next candidate that approaches as though they are the ones that will sign your check, because indirectly, they do.

Thanks for reading and let me know who you think the recruiter’s loyalty should be with.

One response to “Who should a recruiter’s loyalty go to, the candidate or the client?

  1. Angela P June 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Christine, this is well thought out. I agree that we should pay more attention to the candidate. Most people lose valuable relationships when they do not realize that the candidates they meet today (whether they have an opening or not) may mean a placement in a couple months. Thanks for your contributions to the recruiting industry!

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