Recruiters Explained

Meet Ed Han, a Job Seeker Ally!

In this blog post, I want to introduce Ed Han, an experienced recruiter and a veteran of PSG (Professional Services Group) movement, who also formerly led PSG Mercer County. We met in March 2020, right before the coronavirus crisis went full-blown in NJ, to discuss the mystery around recruiters’ types, processes, and systems.


NL Ed, thank you for finding the time to meet with me and to answer the questions many of our members keep asking.

I have the impression that many professionals at PSGCNJ have heard your name, have even met you, and are glad to know that I am going to do an interview with you.

Why do you think you are so popular in our circles?

EH Sure, Natalie.

There are many career coaches that visit PSG meetings, but I’m not one of them.

I call myself a Job Seeker Ally because I’m knowledgeable about the job search process, and I want to help job seekers. Usually, when I do my elevator speech, I talk about how I am passionate about helping job seekers return to the workforce. This is the thing that really motivates me.

In addition, I have formerly led PSG Mercer County.

For the last eight years, I’ve been a recruiter, which gives me a great deal of insight into the job search process, and I like to share what knowledge and insight I have with others.

What Types of Recruiters Are There?

NL and that is awesome because our members are interested to learn about the job search process from the recruiter’s perspective.

Here are some of the questions they wanted me to ask you:

  • What types of recruiters are there?
  • Why am I often contacted by multiple recruiters, for the same position?
  • Why are they asking for my identification? Is it a scam?
  • What are their processes?

EH Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of recruiters:

  • There are internal recruiters, also called corporate recruiters. Usually, they’re affiliated with the human resources department of an employer.
  • The other type is known as an external recruiter, AKA an agency recruiter, or a headhunter.

(I have previously been an external one, now I am an internal recruiter.)

It is important to understand the difference because the internal recruiters and external recruiters are motivated in very different ways.

1. The internal recruiter is an employee of the brand that is doing the hiring. So for example, Johnson&Johnson has corporate (internal) recruiters. They are Johnson&Johnson employees who bring in the talent to help J&J grow their team.

2. By contrast, external recruiters are employed by a recruiting firm or a recruiting agency, and they have clients like Johnson&Johnson or other, often quite large, brands.

More about External Recruiters

Most often, agency recruiters are motivated by making a placement and then receiving a commission from that placement.

So, if an agency recruiter gets a placement for a full-time employee, they get a percentage of that person’s salary. If the placement is for a project or hourly work, they get a percentage of the hourly fee that is paid to the new hire.

NL And how do these types interact with each other? Do internal recruiters reach out to external recruiters?

EH It depends.

Typically, agency recruiters will have a contract in place with the employer.

But there are other ones who do not have such an agreement with the employer. Those are vendors to these contracted agency recruiters. This is exactly what happens when people – like PSGCNJ members – receive a dozen emails and calls from different recruiters all within a couple of hours for the same position.

Multiple Layers Between You And The Employer

NL Vendors?

EH  Yes, vendors.

Typically large employers manage their project-based staffing needs through software called a Vendor Management System (VMS) an example of which can be found at It is an internal system, that is usually managed by a specific agency or firm on behalf of the employer.

When the new requirement goes live in the VMS, it’s communicated immediately to all the approved vendors that have an agreement in place with the employer.

NL And vendors being what, recruiting agencies?

EH  Yes, recruiting agencies.

It is very difficult to become an approved vendor for one of these brands, it usually takes a year or more.

But there are also firms that are vendors to THESE firms as well, who are not on the approved vendor list.

NL Sub-recruiters?

EH  Exactly!

VMS – Vendor Management Systems

You see – this is why you will see requirements for a job that should pay $80, $90, $100 an hour, and actually only pays 50 or $60 now, because these sub-vendors will take their margin, out of what should be yours.

How Do I Know Who Is Contacting Me?

NL Okay, then probably the next logical question would be, how do I know who is contacting me? Is he or she a direct vendor/agency or a sub-vendor?

EH That’s a really difficult question. The best way to answer this question, I think, is to ask them how many layers are between you and the brand.

NL Is it okay to ask that question?

EH Absolutely. It’s the only way you will know.

Typically, you will be contacted by a company you’ve never heard of before. And so, as the job seeker, you should push back and ask: “Okay, how many layers are between you and the brand?”

Typically, one layer between you and the brand is an acceptable level, that is as good as it’s going to be, that would be the contracted agency working directly with the employer. If it’s two, then you know that someone is taking out a piece of the pie, so that’s obviously not great for you.

Why do they ask for my SSN?

NL At which point are you, as a job seeker, supposed to reveal your identity information like your social security number to recruiters? And why do they need it?

EH That is a really great question, I’m glad that you asked it.

On some level, this is very much a personal decision. Some people are very conscious of the risk of security. We keep reading these stories about breaches on a seemingly daily basis, and as a recruiter, I’m very sensitive to this.

There are two occasions in which a recruiter will ask you for your SSN:

  1. Creating your record in a VMS (or finding one if it already exists), and
  2. Preparing your record for hiring.

In the agency world, particularly for project work, an approved recruitment vendor (or a sub-vendor, if you choose to work with one) is going to ask you this, in order to submit you to the client. The reason for this is that the VMS tracks your information by your name, sometimes your email, and also the last four digits of your social security number.

An internal recruiter should not ask you for your full Social Security number unless they are about to hire. A reputable external recruiter should never ask you for your full Social Security number.

NL So if the recruiter asks you for the last four last digits of your Social Security number, it’s just for them to identify you in the system?

EH Right, it is entirely safe. You don’t need to provide the rest of the social security number, just the last four digits.

NL But providing the full Social Security may only be relevant for background checks or something else near the point of hiring, right?

EH That should be the case! There are exceptions when employers would require your full SSN for the record to be entered into their VMS, but they are rare.

Being “Let Go” Soon After Hire

NL I have heard that sometimes a recruiter will send a candidate for an interview and that person passes all the interviews and is approved for hire by the company only to be let go almost immediately after starting their job. Do you know why this happens?

EH There are several reasons that this could happen.

One such reason – let’s call it “Switching candidates” – can be described by the following scenario: an agency provides an employer with a relevant candidate who does a phone screen, comes in to do an interview (including any technical interviews), meets with all the stakeholders, and is approved for hire. But then, when the new hire is supposed to start, a different person arrives on-site! Once the employer realizes the this is not the individual that they “hired,” they may, of course, be let go – particularly in case they are in fact not a good fit for the position.

Such quite unethical behavior of some recruiters, although it can have some understandable explanations behind it, hurts both the candidates and the companies. Make sure you have written confirmation of your hire and start date from the company itself.  Do not allow the agency to make any changes to the situation unless and until you are certain of all of the circumstances involved in accepting the position.

Another reason for someone being let go right after the hire is that most employers, particularly the large ones, will require an employment background check, especially in regulated industries. If a person is hired through an agency and a background check has not been completed before the start date, if it eventually comes back negative, the person may be let go very soon after hire. Remember, if you are unable to pass a background check, you will have a great deal of difficulty finding work in that profession or that industry.

There may be other reasons that could be happening. These are just two examples. It’s ultimately driven by a particular situation, so it’s difficult to speak in generalities.

The Secret of Successful Hiring

NL So, what would be your advice for the candidate, besides being able to pass background checks, to being successfully hired? What’s the secret, in two words?

EH In two words – relevant experience! If you have it, you’re in. If you don’t have it, you’re wasting your time.

About the author: Natalie Lihacova is a member of PSGCNJ Marketing & Events committee; she is also a co-founder and CEO of Teammate.Exec and Mr. Simon. Natalie has over two decades of experience leading people and running businesses; before switching her career to Information Technology and Business Management, she used to be a musician – a singer and a choir director. She is passionate about helping people discover their true potential as professionals.