Secret Jobs

Finding a “Secret” Job
by Arthur J, Byrnes

If you are looking for a job, or a better job, and haven’t had much luck, maybe you are looking in the wrong place. There are hundreds of “Secret” jobs out there ready and waiting for the right applicant.

People look for jobs in lots of ways, most look in the Newspaper, a few go to job fairs, and some go through the phone book to find places to take their applications. Yet, many of the largest companies don’t advertise their job openings in Newspapers, go to Job Fairs, or take applications from “Walk-ins”.

Do these companies really try to keep their job openings secret? No, they just don’t want to wade through thousands of applications to find the right people. Human Resources Departments are very busy places, taking care of benefits, and monitoring compliance with all the state and federal regulations that are heaped upon companies today. People are the biggest cost to most companies, so they hate to spend money on people just to find other people.

So, how do these companies fill their secret jobs? Recruiters!

Sometimes known as Head Hunters, recruiters are in the business of helping companies find people. The best recruiters, from the employer’s point of view find not just people, but the right people. The recruiters get job listings from the companies, containing the skills, pay and other requirements for the jobs. They then search for the people that match.

The recruiter – job seeker – employer relationship is very interesting. The recruiter only gets paid when and if they find the right job seeker to fit the job. Often, the employee has to stay with the company for set period of time, or the recruiter looses the commission. Finding the exact fit may be impossible. So, the recruiter may do a sales job to the job seeker, and to the company, to find a fit that may not seem obvious. If the recruiter does a “Snow Job” rather than a sales job, the company may not use their firm next time. But, if the recruiter doesn’t find a job seeker, then the company will not send them future job listings.

Don’t confuse a professional recruiter with an old style “Employment Agency”. If the office tries to charge you a fee to find a job, run, don’t walk, right out the front door. This includes web sites that charge you to take your resume, or to let you search their job database. (There may be a time when you want to pay someone to help you make a better resume, but we will cover that in a future column.) Good employers are willing to pay to find good employees, especially in the computer field.

Some recruiters only handle, “Contract Placement”, some only handle “Direct Placement”, while some handle both.

In Contract Placement, the employee is actually hired by the recruiter, and contracted to the client employer on a temporary basis. The company pays an hourly rate to the recruiter, who then pays a percentage to the employee. The length of the contract and amount of pay, is determined by the employer’s needs. These jobs can be very high paying, but can end on a moment’s notice, and often have no benefits.

Many companies use contract placement to screen potential future employees. It seems expensive, but it does give the company a look at how the employee performs over a long term. For the company, not renewing a contractor has a lot less liability then firing or laying off a permanent employee.

Direct Placement is a lot like the old Employment Agency concept without the fees. The employer asks the recruiter to find people to fill jobs. The recruiter charges a fee to the employer, when the right person is found, and the employee works directly for the company. These jobs are what most of us think of as normal, with benefits and the security of a “Permanent job”. Although, many folks are learning that the old permanent job concept is loosing ground in today’s market. With companies operating “Lean and Mean” layoffs are common as projects end and markets change.

There are many recruiters of all sizes, some good and some bad. The quickest way to tell a bad recruiter is if they attempt to charge you a fee, any fee. Some may want to charge a fee to “Fix” your resume, or a “Finder’s fee”, or a “Filing fee”. None of these are proper fees! The recruiter is selling you to a company, so it is in their best interest to make sure that your resume is good. They already have the job listings, so no finding is necessary. And a Filing fee? Ridiculous!

A good recruiter is like a good trail guide, helping you to avoid the rocks, cliffs and quicksand on the way to your goal. They know the companies they are dealing with, because they have placed people there before. They know what the companies like to see on resumes, and will help you make your resume right. During the interview process, they will help you to define your skill set, to properly present you to the company. They should give you interview tips, and some insight to the company where you are going to interview.

The most interesting part of all this is that the best recruiters, actually send you on the fewest interviews. They prescreen the jobs and know the ones that are the best fit for you and the company. The best recruiter I knew sent me on zero interviews, he said to show up at the company ready to work. He had placed so many people there, that the company trusted his judgment. I stayed there 5 years!

How do you find a recruiter like that? When you talk to the recruiter, listen carefully. Does he or she seem sincere? Do they remind you of the proverbial sales droid? (They shouldn’t!) Do they tell you about the hundreds of jobs they have, or just about the ones right for you? (You should only care about the one job right for you!) Do they actually listen to you? It all factors in. One of my personal tests is my pickyness about location, if they just hand me jobs based on my skill set, and haven’t taken heed of my location preference, they’re gone…

Arthur J. Byrnes, has been working with recruiters since 1986. On-line he runs Arthur’s Job Blog