Four types of recruiter

As a job seeker, it is important for you to understand the different types of recruiters so that you are prepared and understand the role they can play in your job search. It can be confusing and, in order to understand and work with them effectively, I have broken them down into five different types. You may get a call from one that introduces themselves as a certain type of recruiter that you have never heard of and are confused “do they work for a certain company or are they independent or exactly where do they fit in?” Here is an overview – and layman language definitions – of the different types of recruiters you may encounter in your job search.

1. Internal, in-house or corporate recruiter

An Internal, In-house or Corporate recruiter is the most common type of recruiter that you will encounter and they will most likely refer to themselves as just ‘Recruiters’.They are usually employees of the company they hire for, and source full-time employees for their company. They are paid a salary and benefits just like any other employee.

Examples: Recruiters at companies such as VanCity, Google, Amazon, Lush, BC Hydo hire full-time employees for their own firms.

2. Contingency recruiter

A Contingency Recruiting Agency is an outsourced provider.  Their recruiters conduct full-time employee searches on a contingency (paid only if they find a successful candidate) basis for a client company. The recruiter is responsible for the initial recruiting, screening and interviewing, and arranging 2nd round interviews with the client company.

Companies use these kinds of recruiters if their in-house recruiters can’t keep up with an unexpectantly high hiring demand or they don’t have a dedicated HR team to find prospective employees. The client company pays either a flat fee or a percentage of the first year’s salary, usually 15-35% depending on the difficulty of sourcing suitable candidates. Job seekers do not have to pay a fee. Many staffing companies also offer contingency services. They typically advertise these jobs as ‘Direct Hire’ or ‘Contract to Hire’ to indicate they are different than the common contract positions.

Examples: Miles Employment Agency, Robert Half, Annex, PDF, Odgers Bernston, Locke & Associates

3. Retained recruiter / staffing agency recruiter (Temp/Contract)

This is one of the more common types of recruiters you will encounter if you post your resume on a job board. A Temporary Agency (Temp Agency) hires temporary employees (contractors) to work for a short duration at a client company. The contractor works at the client site and under supervision from the client’s manager but is employed by the staffing agency and the staffing agency pays all wages, employer taxes, medical insurance and benefits. For all legal purposes,  the individual is an employee of the staffing company but their daily work is directed by the client where they work.

The client company pays an hourly rate for the contract/temp employee which includes the contractor’s pay and a mark-up for the staffing company to take care of the staffing company’s costs of sales, recruiting, HR and payroll and profit. In exchange, the client gets the benefit of hiring and terminating such ‘contingent’ resources much more easily and reduces their people costs by not having to pay vacation or other benefits paid to its full-time employees.

Examples: Adecco, Aerotek, Miles Employment Group, Corporate Recruiter. These work for clients which include startups, small businesses to Fortune 500 companies

4. Consulting company recruiter

A number of Consulting companies follow a similar model to staffing companies but they typically provide higher-skilled professionals such as software engineers, finance and marketing professionals. The smaller consulting companies operate more like staffing companies in that their employment contract is only valid until the project they are working on is ongoing.

Examples: Top-Tier Consulting companies like Accenture, Cap Gemini, and McKinsey differentiate themselves by not terminating employees when their consulting engagement is over. They either find them different projects or work on internal projects but continue to pay them even when these consultants are on the ‘bench’ (not billing a client, at least for a few months till they find them their next project). This justifies the higher hourly rates charged by these companies.

About Dorothy Keenan of FutureWorks 

Dorothy is a certified résumé writer with 25 years of experience in providing career advice and support to 5,000 professionals in diverse industries including technology, science, gaming, trades, finance, manufacturing, warehouse, and administration to find fulfilling careers. Through her work she has gained a solid understanding of the needs of British Columbia’s dynamic labour force. Her expertise in developing résumés, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters has helped her clients move forward in their careers. Contact or

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