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Working with social work recruiters can open up exciting new opportunities in your career. Recruiters often have a more complete understanding of the job market and a better grasp of hiring practices than you might have as a candidate. They can also leverage deep and diverse professional networks to help you find a new or better position. However, partnering with a recruitment professional does not always benefit you, so you should understand how and when to work with a recruiter.

Recruiters often have a more complete understanding of the job market and a better grasp of hiring practices than you might have as a candidate.

Internal recruiters work within an organization’s human resources department. External recruiters, by contrast, work for an agency hired by an organization to help fill some or all of its open positions. Both kinds of recruiters use online tools and personal connections to build a pool of candidates. They then reach out to these candidates to determine their potential fit and interest in a given job. Some recruiters participate in or coordinate the interview process and recommend which candidate to hire.

External recruiters receive payment when their client organization brings a new employee on board. Although this creates an incentive for the recruiter to find you a job, it does not always ensure that the job they find is right for you.

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How Do You Find a Social Work Job with a Recruiter?

Finding Social Work Recruiters

Typically, recruiters reach out to potential candidates for a particular job rather than waiting for candidates to contact them. To attract the attention of a recruiter, post or update your resume on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster.

Recruiters look for certain keywords when searching for candidates. For example, social worker recruitment agencies may seek out individuals with certain job titles on their resumes, such as “child welfare officer” or “gerontology social worker.” They may also search for candidates with relevant education and training, like those with a master’s in social work or a certified school social work specialist credential. Some recruiters look for specific skills or experience in a particular setting.

To attract the attention of a recruiter, post or update your resume on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster.

You should not work with any recruiter who tries to charge you up front for their services. Internal recruiters receive salaries, and external recruiters receive commissions from the hiring organization. Before working with a recruiter, research their information online. Ask friends, colleagues, and members of professional social work associations about their opinion of the recruiter or recruiting agency.

After you have researched a recruiter, arrange an introductory phone call. During this conversation, ask if they can share their placement rate or testimonials from satisfied clients. Ask about their education, how long they have worked in recruiting, and what sort of professional connections they have. If you feel satisfied with their qualifications, you can set up an initial interview to begin the job search.

Social Worker Recruitment Agencies

Social worker recruitment agencies partner with organizations to fill open positions. More often than not, the hiring organization pays the recruiter a commission once the organization hires an employee. The commission usually amounts to roughly 20-25% of the employee’s annual salary. While some recruitment agencies do charge individuals to help them find a job, you should approach these kinds of deals with caution.

Initial Interview with a Social Work Recruiter

Your initial interview provides recruiter with the opportunity to learn more about your professional experience and aspirations. Try to come up with answers in advance for questions that they may ask. For example, do you hope to stay in your new position for the foreseeable future, or do you want to quickly climb the ladder at your new company? Do you have a salary range in mind? What sort of benefits do you require, and which do you want? What sort of working environment suits you best? Do you want to lead a team or work more independently? With this information in hand, a recruiter can start to look for positions that match your expectations.

Because recruiters receive their payment from the hiring organization, they often put the interests of that organization above your own.

Because recruiters receive their payment from the hiring organization, they often put the interests of that organization above your own. As such, you should not tell your recruiter certain things, such as whether you have any other job prospects, if your financial situation requires you to take a job immediately, or the lowest salary you would take. Sharing this information can weaken your bargaining position with a future employer.

The initial interview also gives you the chance to decide whether you want to work with this recruiter. If they seem more interested in immediately placing you in a job than understanding your strengths and interests, you should consider passing on the partnership.

The Job Interviewing Process

Internal recruiters often participate in, and sometimes even lead, the interview process itself. They typically act as your primary point of contact for submitting references and additional materials or taking any required exams. Some may even play a role, alongside other managers, in making the final hiring decision.

External recruiters may also sit in on or help coordinate interviews. They may even make a recommendation to the hiring manager or search committee, but this decision ultimately rests with the organization. An external recruiter may also offer advice on how to best frame your experience and demonstrate your interest.

Regardless of the recruiter’s involvement, you should follow up after an interview to thank them for their time and assistance. If you do not get the job, this show of professionalism may lead the recruiter to consider you for other open positions.

Should You Look for a Social Work Job with a Recruiter?

Advantages of Working with a Recruiter

You can potentially benefit a great deal by partnering with a recruiter. To begin with, recruiters often have a better sense of the job market than you do. While you may apply to a few dozen jobs throughout your career, recruiters constantly work to match candidates with open positions. As a result, they hear about openings more quickly, know more about individual organizations’ hiring practices, and maintain more established relationships with human resource professionals.

While you may apply to a few dozen jobs throughout your career, recruiters constantly work to match candidates with open positions.

Recruiters can also save you time. Rather than applying to many different jobs, recruiters can help you target your search by advising you on which jobs best match your qualifications and expectations. They can also put your application in front of individuals who make hiring decisions, allowing you to hear back from an organization sooner.

Finally, recruiters may help you earn a higher salary. As mentioned above, most recruiters receive a sizable percentage of a new employee’s annual salary as a commision. This arrangement encourages recruiters to match you with a high-paying job. It also incentivizes recruiters to assist you during the salary negotiation process. If a recruiter has previously placed an employee at an organization, they can offer exceptionally relevant advice on how to maximize your compensation.

Potential Disadvantages of Working with a Recruiter

Despite the many potential advantages of working with a recruiter, they may not always act in your best interest. For example, say an organization has offered you a job with a salary considerably lower than you had hoped to receive. The organization has made it clear, for various reasons, that it cannot increase the salary. In this scenario, your recruiter may recommend that you take the position anyway, as they would prefer to receive a smaller commission over no commission at all. However, you may benefit from ignoring this advice and waiting for another opportunity to come along.

Recruiters may also keep important information from you if instructed by the hiring organization to do so. An organization, for example, may not want potential employees to know about complaints they have received related to work environment, as this could hurt their recruitment effort. When not required by law to disclose information, recruiters generally respect the wishes of the organization in these cases. As such, you should not trust a recruiter to provide you with the entire picture about a potential job. Pose your questions directly to the representatives of the hiring organization instead.

Tips for Working with a Recruiter in Social Work

Don’t Take a Shotgun Approach

If you do plan to reach out to recruiters, research those that work within your industry and those with clients that have similar backgrounds and career goals. Similarly, be selective when responding to recruiters that reach out to you.

Dress Professionally

Use your best judgement to determine how to present yourself professionally at meetings and interviews. In some industries, employers and recruiters expect business casual. When in doubt, wear business formal attire.

Send Thank You Notes

After every meeting or interview, send a brief thank you note. After introductory meetings with a recruiter, you can send a simple email. After interviews, however, try to send a handwritten note to all individuals who participated.

Develop a Rapport

You benefit most from a recruiter who understands what you can do and what you want. Take the time to have a broad discussion with your recruiter that does not focus on a particular job opportunity.

Recruiter FAQs

How Many Times Do You Meet with a Recruiter, on Average?

On average, you can expect to meet with a recruiter two or three times. If you turn down a job offer but continue your relationship with a recruiter, you may schedule additional meetings to further refine the search.

What Kind of Qualifications Do Recruiters Typically Have?

Recruiters usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources, psychology, or business. They also typically have several years of experience in personnel management or recruitment.

Can You Work with Multiple Recruiters at the Same Time?

You can work with multiple recruiters, though you should let them know you plan to do so. This can help prevent disputes over which recruiter matched you with a particular opportunity.

What Are the Signs of a Good Recruiter?

Good recruiters want to help you achieve your professional goals. They seek out jobs that match your interests and experience and may even recommend you turn down offers that do not suit you.

What Are the Signs of a Substandard Recruiter?

Bad recruiters simply want to earn a commission. They do not take the time to understand what you want, and they may pressure you to take a job even if you have concerns about the position.