Recruiters are sales people so many people don't like them for the same reason they don't like any sales people. Here are some of those reasons.
1. They're pesky.
They call you when you're not looking for a job.
This is a real problem for people in certain technical fields. People get called endlessly by recruiters and some take their profiles offline to avoid it.
But other people get quite huffy about it when they have no reason to. Yes, a recruiter will call you when you have no interest in moving but, someday, she might call you about a position that is really good and she won't charge you anything for moving you ahead in your career. Would you rather she didn't give you that opportunity?
2. They're self-centered.
There is always the potential for conflict between a sales person and his client. They each have their own interests and the two don't always meet.
The question is: will the sales person act as an unbiased consultant and help his clients do what is best for them -- or will he pose as an unbiased consultant and urge his clients to do what is best for him when it isn't best for them.
The recruiter has two temptations to err in his own interest on every search.
He can tell the hiring manager that this is the best candidate he can expect to find when that isn't necessarily true.
And he can tell the candidate that this is the best job offer he is likely to get right now even though that isn't necessarily true either.
But the recruiter has a strong reason not to sell either party a bill of goods. Quite simply, it can backfire.
If the company isn't happy with their new hire, they can let him go quickly and ask the recruiter to honour his guarantee to replace him.
That means another search (for no fee) and the risk that the client, already disappointed, will not use that recruiter again.
The same is true for the candidate. If she's not happy, she might not stay beyond the guarantee period. Then the recruiter is involved in another search for an unhappy client and the candidate won't be that crazy about him either if he ever calls her again.
So, most recruiters want to make a good fit and avoid a bad one.
That said, if you have two offers, one from Recruiter A and one from Recruiter B, it will probably be the rare recruiter who tells you to take the other offer.
You have to listen to what the recruiter has to say and make up your mind yourself because he has a conflict of interest. If you take the other job, it's a big loss for him.
Some recruiters will lose gracefully and others won't. When I was a fresh grad a recruiter I didn't know called me up out of the blue and asked me to go for an interview about an hour away from where I lived for a job I had no interest in.
When I said no he started screaming at me. He was a jerk and I was terribly offended but now it just seems kind of funny.
3. They claim that all of their offerings are great.
Some recruiters, as soon as they introduce themselves, say "I've got a great position to tell you about!". Then they tell you about the position and it isn't that great.
In fact, it doesn't suit you at all. It's surely not a step forward so you feel that this person is either an idiot or a hustler who doesn't care about you and just wants to get you into a new job for his own ends.
That might not be the case. The recruiter might just talk that way but it puts people off.
4. They come across as insincere.
Everyone tells sales people that they have to bond quickly with strangers and that leads some people to try to short-circuit the rapport-building process by acting as if they are already your friend.
In fact, you don't have to bond with everyone in business. My friend, Jerry, says, "I am not close friends with my doctor, I tolerate my accountant and have no interest in knowing anything about my lawyer and financial guy."
All he wants to know is that they can do their jobs.
5. They don't seem to be experts in your profession.
Some people practice a profession for a number of years and then move into recruiting people in that profession. So you might find an engineer recruiting engineers or an accountant recruiting accountants.
But that isn't usually so. Recruiters recruit outside their areas of professional expertise and that's because their real area of expertise is finding people for jobs. Nothing more. And you can do that without being a professional in the field.
I have a friend who is an automotive engineer. He moved into recruiting automotive engineers but when he started his own agency he switched to environmental engineers to avoid competing with his previous employer.
Another recruiter I know used to switch from one specialty to another depending on what was hot in the market at the time.
To me, these two guys prove that you don't have to be a member of a profession to do a good job recruiting in it.
I'll admit, however, that not everyone is as smart as they are but you don't have to be smart enough to get an engineering degree or a chartered accountant's designation to do a good job recruiting them.
The key, I think, is being more of bloodhound. Someone gives you a profile of the person you're after, explains it to you, gives you a few questions to ask to see if you've got the right person when you find him, and you go after him until you do.
I used to work with a friend of mine who was a terrific recruiter. There was no one he couldn't find (and that was before so many people were online).
We were working primarily on sales and marketing positions in computer hardware companies when he decided to take a job in the executive search arm of a big, global consulting firm.
I think the first job they gave him was VP of Structured Finance for a bank and he had no trouble with it at all. Now, he is very smart but he is also bold; he's not afraid to speak to strangers about something he doesn't know much about. And I believe that this boldness is a primary key to success in recruiting.
So, you can have someone call you who doesn't know much about what you do and you might ask yourself, "How can this person who doesn't know anything help me?" But she can.
She knows how to find people, screen them and give a meaningful report to a hiring manager.
Recruiters can usually rank their candidates, as well, and even argue with the hiring manager (who is presumably a professional in the field) if they disagree about who should get the offer.