Well, the answer is – it depends. Many recruiting agencies have a had a wonderful track record of having many satisfied customers over and over again whereas some who have had a not-so-good experience would always say “beware of the recruiting agencies”.
You might be visible only to a smaller section of jobs available while working with a recruiter. I have heard of at least one case where the recruiter was non-cooperative to the candidate once it got to his notice that she was approaching companies and contacts on her own. But of course it is up to you to discuss your and his/her expectations upfront before committing to the relationship. The recruiters can fall in a fee dispute of the job seeker gets the position on his/her own.

The recruiters work on fees and commission basis. No, you do not have to pay anything upfront (however note – some recruiters do charge job seekers) in most cases the employers pay then when you are hired and stay in the job for at least one year or so. So of course if you are a suitable candidate the recruiter will work hard on you and with you to find the right job for you – after all his/her income depends on how many he/she can successfully place. If a recruiter asks for money upfront from you, it is a good idea to first question them on why and also ask for some referrals on successful candidates they have worked with. Research well before you go in for the recruiter relationship.

Why would you need a Recruiter’s help?

  • If you are not confident on how your resume presents today, a recruiter might help you in critiquing and updating your resume to the desired industry level.
  • If you have shaky interviewing skills, the recruiters might help you get some interview training done through a career consulting agency or person career coaches. It actually helps a lot to make an effort to polish you interviewing skills, after all interviews are your gateway to the job. Even with a great resume and attractive skills, an interview eventually makes or breaks your chances of getting that job.
  • You have been in the job search for long and some help and advice can encourage and motivate you to action. A recruiter, career coach and career consultants can be of help to you now. The recruiter has had an experience of being in the recruiting business for long (so some reputed firms with experienced recruiters is what you should be looking for) and can present a good picture of the present hiring market – well, to counter what I say here, there have been many instances where recruiters have painted an untrue picture to keep the job seekers in their list and that is where the disgruntled testimonials come from.
    Recruiters have an inside scoop on the advertised jobs which you might never see, so going for a recruiter when times are tough might be a good idea.

How to know of the Recruiter is the Right one for you?
Check out if the following is happening in your relationship with the recruiter:
Is the recruiter;

  • Scheduling personal one-on-one meeting with you to discuss your requirements and inform you on the job search process or just working on your resume and approaching jobs that fall in your keywords bank?
  • A good listener? Is he/she paying attention to your needs first rather than imposing on what is the right way to approach the job search process. Usually we do expect a good recruiter to have good peoples skills, it is not about how good he can update your resume but more on how well he can work with you.
  • Communicates expectations upfront and is honest.

The recruiters must also specify on the confidentially statement when working with a job seeker. Read some more tips on an honest recruiter on Monster columns.

Also some good tips are here on the videos at jobing.com.

Some very helpful articles: