Answer: No. Technical recruiters are not employment superheroes.

But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Unfortunately, though, although most of us know it isn’t true, much like we wish Superman were real, we still hold out hope.

I’m not sure how it started exactly, but somewhere along the way many candidates began to lump recruiters and headhunters into the same category as social workers, believing that simply out of their own generosity (much like our beloved superheroes) they tirelessly look for just the right job to suit each candidate.

Now don’t get me wrong…there are many kind-hearted recruiters out there who do care very much about candidates and who would like to see them achieve their goals.

But that’s not what the recruiter is there for…to find you a job.

A recruiter, typically, will only be looking for candidates who fit with the types of positions he or she is being paid to recruit for (or will be paid for if a suitable candidate can be found).

If you don’t fit with what the recruiter needs, then he or she generally can’t help you. The recruiter might keep your info on file and contact you if anything does come up, or maybe even send you along to another recruiter, but basically it is time for you as a candidate to move on.

Simple, right? I’m not sure why, then, but somehow this relationship often becomes complex for many job seekers. I’m not sure whether it is because some recruiters aren’t forthright with candidates or whether candidates are just simply holding on to that hope, but whatever the reason, they hang on every word the recruiter says. “He told me he would call me in a couple weeks.” “She said my resume doesn’t have enough business development in it.”

Many candidates can’t seem to capture the code words here for “I don’t have anything right now.” It’s kind of like the “let’s just be friends” speech so often given at the end of a dating relationship.

Instead of getting the message, the job seeker runs off screaming, “why does my resume short-change me on business development?” (Never mind that they are looking for a job that generally requires a pretty small amount of business development background.)

I also find that once many candidates begin talking to recruiters, they stop putting much effort into their job search. Instead they play the waiting game. (It’s kind of the same with job posting boards, where the resumes go in, almost never to be heard from again. Yet everyone keeps posting anyway and then waiting for something to happen.)

I’m not saying recruiters won’t contact you, but again, only if they have a specific position for which you are suited that happens to come across their desk.

Recruiters are not staying up at night worrying about finding a position for you.

This point is very important, especially in the era when position openings are few and job searches are taking longer and longer. So don’t just talk with one or two recruiters; talk with several. And find ones that work in your field or industry.

There are many sincere recruiters out there, but they still aren’t employment superheroes.

But whatever you do, diversify your approach. Networking! Group Job Hunting! Every year they consistently rank the highest in effectiveness for job seekers, and every year I have to spend hours convincing candidates of the benefits. Instead I hear, “I just know this recruiter is going to come through for me!” Ah, it must be tough being the employment superheroes…