• A Student's Guide to Interviewing
    With Third-Party Recruiters

    Principles for Professional Practice Committee 

    As you conduct your job search you will find that some employers hire third-party organizations to assist them in identifying and hiring college students. An employer can hire a third-party organization to do on-campus recruiting, represent the company at a job fair, screen job candidates who apply through an Internet web site, or other hiring activities. Many college career centers allow third-party recruiters to work with students through their offices. Some have special policies that apply to how, when, and where third-party recruiters can work with students. Your career centerrecommends that you be aware of issues that are pertinent to working with these organizations.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines third-party recruiters as "agencies, organizations, or individuals recruiting candidates for temporary, part-time, or full-time employment opportunities other than for their own needs."

    Types of third-party recruiters include the following.

    Employment/Staffing Agencies

    Employment agencies list positions for a number of organizations and receive payment when a referred candidate is hired.

    What students should know: Campus job boards may include job postings coming from employment agencies or staffing firms, along with posting coming directly from employers. It is appropriate and may even be advantageous to students and alumni for career services offices to work with third-party recruiters.

    Employment agencies don’t always disclose the employer for the position they are listing. (However, career services offices typically require an employment agency to disclose this information when adding a listing to the campus job posting site).

    Career services reviews requests for postings from third-party recruiters to ensure they meet career services standards and disclosure requirements and can provide further information to students upon request.

    FAQ for employment/staffing agencies:

    Is the fee paid by the employer or the individual? The fee for listing a position is paid either by the firm listing the opening or by the candidate who is hired. If the job listing does not include the phrase "fee paid," be sure to ask who pays the fee before signing any papers.

    If I identify a position of interest, but I’m not familiar with this employment agency, should I provide a resume or application information? Inquire with the career services office to see if there is an existing relationship with this employment agency, as third-party recruiters should provide information about their operations and services to career services for candidate review. If the employment agency is not known by career services, determine that this agency is a reputable firm by asking for examples of recent placements in the industry. Inquire about the positions being filled or the number of openings related to the student’s career interest.

    Is it appropriate for candidates to ask the employment agency about the number of job openings being filled? Yes, this is an important question because, in some instances, recruiters may not actually have the type or number of openings they advertise. They may be more interested in adding your name to their candidate pool as a means of attracting more employers or clients to their services. Or they may be collecting resumes from students for potential job opportunities. Most institutions do not allow third-party recruiters to interview students unless they are trying to fill actual job openings.

    Search Firms

    A search firm contracts with employers to find and screen qualified persons to fill specific positions. The fee is paid by the employer.

    What students should know: When companies elect to use an outside executive search firm, it is usually because they lack the internal research resources, networks, or evaluative skills to properly recruit for themselves. Search firms are less likely to work with career centers to identify candidates. Thus, search firms may search for candidates via social media or online profiles.

    Search firm representatives will almost always identify the employer they represent, and will generally specialize in a particular industry and/or region of the country or world. At times, the firm will want to identify an individual’s interest and will then identify who they are representing.

    Search firms are typically used to source candidates for senior, executive, or other highly specialized positions, and are more appropriate for candidates with an extensive employment history

    Contract Recruiters

    Employers hire contract recruiters to represent them in the recruiting and employment functions.

    What students should know: An employer can hire a third-party organization to do on-campus recruiting, represent the company at a job fair, screen job candidates who apply through an Internet web site, or any other aspect of the hiring process.

    Contract recruitment representatives will act on behalf of an employer at recruiting events on-campus information sessions, and interviews. They will often make no distinction that they are contracted HR representatives, but will be authorized by the employer.  

    Fees are paid by the company that hires the contract recruiter. You should never sign a contract in which you agree to pay for services of a contract recruiter or recruitment firm.

    Resume Referral Firms

    A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers and forwards it to prospective employers. Data can be contained in resumes or on data forms (either paper or electronic). The employer, job seeker, or both may pay fees.

    What students should know: You must give the firm written permission to pass your resume to employers. Your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the information can be used.

    In fact, your career center is a type of resume referral service that works directly with hiring employers. If you upload a resume that is part of a career services database, it may be provided to employers authorized to access the career services site. Check with your career services office for policies around resume upload and employer referral.

    Many online job boards function as a resume referral site. When you upload a resume to an online job board be sure to review the privacy statements and policies. You should consider limiting your personal contact information on any resume you provide and understand the implications of listing your personal information on a public forum. Job boards may not be the best job resource for you if you have privacy concerns. If you have any questions, please see your career adviser.

    Important Questions for Consideration About All Third-Party Recruiters

    A third-party recruiter may be helpful to you in your job search, but be a wise consumer. Read all materials carefully and ask questions! You can ask your career services office staff for information on how to engage third-party recruiters, and you may want to ask a lawyer to read any contracts you are asked to sign.

    1. How is this information being used? A third-party recruiter is allowed legally to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else. You may choose to authorize the recruiter to share your data elsewhere, but your authorization should be given to the recruiter in writing. Additional personal information such as bank account and social security number should only be requested as a part of the hiring and onboarding process.

    2. Who pays the fee? Before you agree to anything or sign a contract, ask the recruiter who will pay the fee.

    3. Are candidates treated equally and fairly? If you are qualified for the job opportunity, the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; your state’s laws may extend that protection to include other considerations.

    4. Can an employer hire a third-party organization to do on-campus recruiting?Yes, as you conduct your job search you will find that some employers do contract with third-party organizations to represent them in on campus activities such as career fairs, information sessions, and on-campus interviews. There are authorized agents exclusively retained to engage candidates in the recruitment process.

    5. Where can I find more information about my school’s policy on third-party recruiters? Check with your career center.Many allow third-party recruiters to work with students through their offices. Some have special policies that apply to how, when, and where third-party recruiters can work with students.

    Revised 2016 by the NACE Principles for Professional Practice Committee.