Reverse Recruiting: What You Need To Know

by | Finding A Job

If you’re looking for a new job and have conducted an online search for help, you’ve likely come across “reverse recruiters.” These online marketers sell “reverse recruiting services,” where they purportedly manage your job search for you.

In this article, I answer common questions regarding reverse recruiters and reverse recruiting services:

  • What is reverse recruiting?
  • What is a reverse recruiter?
  • How do reverse recruiters get paid?
  • Is reverse recruiting worth it?
  • Are there alternatives to reverse recruiting?

Disclaimer: I’m not a reverse recruiter and do not offer reverse recruiting services. I’m writing this article because too many job seekers have reached out to me to share that they felt misled or duped by reverse recruiting firms, and I want to prevent other people from having the same experience.

What Is Reverse Recruiting?

Let’s start with the basics. What is “reverse recruiting”?

Because a job recruiter is by definition finding and matching talent with open roles on behalf of an employer, the concept of a “reverse recruiter” is illogical. That said, some firms market “reverse recruiting” as a service where you can allegedly outsource some of your job search tasks to them. Once you pay them a hefty fee, they’ll find and apply to open roles on your behalf.

Important: These tend to be the same roles you can find online and apply to yourself — for free.

What Is A Reverse Recruiter?

A reverse recruiter is a service provider who manages a portion of your job search for you. This often involves identifying open roles and mass applying to them for you. They may also reach out to contacts at the company, such as the recruiter or hiring manager, on your behalf.

Please remember: These are typically roles that you can find online and apply to yourself at no cost.

How Do Reverse Recruiters Get Paid?

So how does a reverse recruiting company get paid? A typical recruiter, whether employed by an agency or in-house, gets paid by the company that is filling the requisition (job opening). Conversely, a “reverse recruiter” gets paid by you, the job seeker, to manage aspects of your own search.

Note: A recruiter, whether they work for an agency or are in-house, will never ask you for money. If they do, run!

Is Reverse Recruiting Worth It?

While it can be tempting to hire a reverse recruiter in the hopes of saving time and energy in looking for your next job, it can actually cost you more time to repair the damage that these firms can cause to your reputation and career.

Understand What You’re Buying

To begin, it’s important to know what you’re buying when working with a company that offers reverse recruiting services. Over the years, I’ve seen many of the “customized job lists” and “networking strategies” that these reverse recruiters deliver to their clients, and every time, they’ve been:

Reverse recruiting firms vary when it comes to the cost of their services. You can find less expensive freelance reverse recruiters on online marketplaces as well as more boutique reverse recruiter firms that cost thousands of dollars per month. Some reverse recruiters also charge you a percentage of your first year’s salary or total compensation.

Know Who You’re Hiring

You also need to know who you’re really hiring when working with a reverse recruiter. Many of these reverse recruiting firms ultimately provide their services at scale by hiring uncertified workers who are paid predatory wages.

Note: There’s nothing wrong with a low-cost service. As I shared with the New York Post, I launched my coaching business 10+ years ago on Fiverr. However, consider whether you want to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars on a service that may be immediately delegated to an inexperienced freelancer in another country making a few dollars per hour.

Protect Your Reputation And Personal Brand

Lastly, you need to remember that your reputation and personal brand are on the line. One common “trick” that reverse recruiters employ is mass applying to open requisitions, even when your application doesn’t make sense based on your experience or job search requirements, just to increase their success rate of landing you interviews.

Although this strategy may increase your chances of landing an interview, it can also quickly backfire and damage your career. What happens if they accidentally reach out to your current employer, apply to a role you’re entirely under/overqualified for, or even contact a company you’re already in conversations with, on your behalf?

Are There Alternatives To Reverse Recruiting?

Thankfully, there are alternatives to reverse recruiting if you want to find a new job. The two most popular choices are to look for a role on your own and to partner with a career coach.

Option 1: Look For A Job On Your Own

If you look for a role on your own, you’ll not only protect your brand but also save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars compared to working with a reverse recruiter.

That said, if you were thinking of hiring a reverse recruiting company or reverse recruiter, you’re likely struggling with your job search, so going at it alone may not be your best bet.

Option 2: Hire A Career Coach

Another alternative to working with a reverse recruiter is to hire a career coach. While there’s no magic bullet to finding a job, a coach can help you search more strategically and efficiently so you land a role quicker. In other words, a career coach can help you optimize your job search efforts.

An important distinction here is that a career coach doesn’t search for jobs for you. Rather, they coach you on how to find a role faster.

A few ways that a career coach may support you with your job search include:

  • Identifying target companies and positions that align with your experience, skills, and the current labor market.
  • Optimizing your LinkedIn profile to attract recruiters.
  • Updating your resume to increase your application-to-interview ratio.
  • Crafting your cover letter to articulate what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Honing your talking points to make a great first impression during interviews.
  • Improving your confidence and salary negotiation skills so you receive the largest compensation package.

Skilled career coaches will tailor their programs to your needs and goals. At the same time, they won’t make any guarantees as to how quickly you will land a job, as they can’t change hiring trends or control the labor market.

Conclusion: Reverse Recruiters And Reverse Recruiting Services

It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether reverse recruiting is a strategy you want to use in your job search, but when you spend 40, 50, or 60+ hours per week at work, ask yourself whether you are willing to outsource your reputation and personal brand.

If you want to further research career coaching as an alternative, I’ve authored many articles on ways to find the best career coach for your needs and goals, as well as how to avoid online coaching scams. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a consultation if you have any questions or would like support with your job search. I’m here for you! You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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