Getting the Job You Want After 50: Busting Recruiter Myths

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Although getting a call from a recruiter after age 50 is flattering, arrangements can get complicated. A good recruiter gives you the inside track on great jobs — ones that may never have hit your radar. If you get the gig, the recruiter earns a fee, paid by the employer, for playing matchmaker. Yet this seemingly symbiotic relationship can be confusing for a job seeker. Here’s how to find and team up with a recruiter most effectively.

Myth #1: Recruiters find you from industry colleagues

Although recruiters may discover you through their networking efforts, it’s not so much the norm anymore. Recruiters increasingly are using the web to seek out experienced candidates. That’s one of the reasons you should have a strong online presence.

Recruiters also search job boards such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, and Monster. Still others look at Instagram and Pinterest, where folks with visually oriented jobs post résumés.

Myth #2: Recruiters find you, not vice versa

That may be true, but not necessarily. If you have what employers want, recruiters don’t care whether you find them or they find you. If you want to work with a recruiter as part of your job-hunting strategy, go for it. You can track them down. Here are some online resources on where you can find recruiters:

You can have your résumé distributed to recruiters on these sites:

You can also search the web for recruiters in your area that serve specific industries. In most urban areas, you can find trade associations of executive recruiters that provide a website with their members’ names and expertise listed. LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats, such as #OMCChat and #InternPro, also provide the means to connect with recruiters.

Look for a recruiter who has expertise in the industry in which you’re interested, and choose one or two who specialize in your field or the field you’re pursuing.

Don’t submit your résumé to more than a couple of recruiters, because it can cause conflict at the hiring company if several recruiters are pitching you to the same employer.

Keep in mind that a recruiter you contact may not have time to meet with you or talk to you at length until a job opening that’s right up your alley crosses her desk. Recruiters typically prescreen over the phone and then file your résumé in their database for future jobs.

Myth #3: The recruiter works for you

The voice on the other end of the phone is super friendly. The recruiter assures you that you’re perfect for the job, and, naturally, you get your hopes up. Despite the pursuit, chances are you’re only one of four or five great candidates the recruiter is presenting to the client. Recruiters generally work for a finder’s fee paid by the employer. The recruiter works for the employer, not for you.

Be careful not to fall under the spell of the courtship, or you’ll be upset when the recruiter suddenly goes into “radio silence mode” and stops returning your calls. Don’t take it personally. It’s business. The bottom line: Recruiters are salespeople. It’s about closing the deal. Time is of the essence.

Myth #4: Recruiters know what the best job fit is for you

Many times, recruiters who call you are simply fishing to round up a batch of potential candidates. They may actually know very little about your work experience and current situation beyond what they’ve seen via your social media profile and online résumé.

It’s up to you to take charge so that you don’t waste your time getting calls for jobs that don’t interest you. Ask upfront if the recruiter has a specific job in mind for you, and be clear about the salary you require. Prepare to answer detailed questions about your résumé, job experience, and any gaps in employment.

Many recruiters look at how often candidates have switched jobs, and they’re likely to dismiss job hoppers. They also want a list of references. And the recruiter may need to know if you are willing to relocate.

Stick to business. A recruiter is not your career coach. Don’t mention money concerns or insecurities about your chances of landing the job. And unless it’s part of the job description, this is not the time to ask about telecommuting policies or other flextime options. Save that for after you get an offer.

Myth #5: If you don’t get the job, they’ll stay in touch

It’s a recruiter’s job to find people for jobs, not jobs for people. That said, many of the best recruiters network with other recruiters. So even if they don’t have an open requisition that’s perfect for you right now, if you have built a good rapport with them, they may know of another opportunity and make an introduction.

Myth #6: Recruiters are résumé wizards

Résumé writing is not a recruiter’s job, but it’s generally in his or her wheelhouse. Although good recruiters will take the time to fine-tune your résumé for the specific job at hand, this isn’t a revamp for you to use universally. The onus is on you to bring a job-winning résumé.

Recruiters may ask that you revise your résumé, however, and they may offer some guidance.

Myth #7: The recruiter negotiates your salary with the employer

Recruiters aren’t paid to negotiate your salary. That’s your job. Recruiters are paid by the employer, so technically it’s in the best interest of the recruiter to help the employer keep your salary within the set parameters. If you’ve established good rapport with your recruiter, however, she may give off-the-record advice such as, “I wouldn’t take their first offer” or “If it were me … ,” or she may send you to sites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com to get salary ranges for the position.