Third party military recruiters work with thousands of transitioning and former military officers and enlisted service members every year. Also known as JMO headhunters, military search firms, military placement specialists, and JMO recruiters, there is a lot of controversy over their role in helping veterans transition. At the end of the day, however, they provide a valuable service, and if used correctly can greatly impact your job search and provide you with some fantastic opportunities.
There are good national recruiting firms out there, and there are those that aren’t. Some firms are small, mom-and-pop firms with limited reach and networks, and others that are large nationwide companies with clients in many industries. Not all firms are alike, and veterans should adjust their expectations accordingly and go into working with a third party recruiter with both eyes wide open.
Your recruiter works for and get paid by his corporate clients. Many military job candidates get frustrated because they feel recruiters aren’t looking out for them and them alone. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but recruiters are not working for you – they are working for the folks that pay them. The only way recruiters and account managers get paid is if they fill a job requisition that their client needs to be filled.
Recruiters don’t network to get candidates into a company – they fill specific job requisitions. Hiring conferences and interviewing events are designed to show clients as many qualified candidates as possible for specific job orders that they have come to the recruiter to fill. If a recruiter says he can present you to a certain company, press him to find out for which position. Companies only open themselves up to third party fees for certain positions and if they hire a military candidate for other jobs they are liable to pay a fee, so many companies don’t want to see candidates outside of certain requisitions.
Some industries do not use recruiters, and some companies only use them sporadically. The financial services industry with a few exceptions does not use military recruiters, so if your candidate recruiter says she can get you in front of several Wall Street firms for investment banking opportunities, you need to ask her to be more specific and give you some names. Why? These firms usually need candidates with an MBA, financial services experience, or certifications and licenses which most military candidates don’t have. And the firms that don’t need all of these qualifications have their own in-house military recruiting operations.
Recruiting firms that require exclusivity should be avoided. Firms that require you to work exclusively with them will promise to deliver many things – exclusive access to their clients, personalized attention, even airplane tickets to attend a conference. What they are not telling you is that they want you to limit your options, plain and simple. If you promise a firm you will attend their hiring conference and not talk to other recruiters for four weeks on either side of the event, the only person you are helping is your recruiter. Why should you limit your job search opportunities for them? They want to place you with their clients. Fair enough. But who knows what opportunities and jobs you are missing, which may be better fits for you, because someone bought you a $300 plane ticket and made you sign a form? Candidates are only hurting themselves if they limit themselves in their job search – companies will only hire between 30-90 days before a candidate’s transition date, so every day you limit your search is another day you may go without a job after you separate. Do you want to run that risk? Do you need to?
Transitioning military service members are great candidates for the job market and have great skills for many industries out there. Using recruiters should absolutely be a part of your military transition strategy. Make sure you know what they bring to the table and who they represent so you can maximize their help in the job search.
Next week I will write the companion article to this post – what military candidates need to do when using third party recruiters to get the most benefit out of those networks and resources.