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The Career Coach: Working with Agents and Recruiters

It is important to understand there is a difference between an agent and a recruiter, what they do, how to work with them, and how they are paid.

"My agent hasn't gotten me any work lately. Should I contact a recruiter?"

You can contact a recruiter but you should understand there is a difference between an agent and a recruiter, what they do, how to work with them, and how they are paid.

AN AGENT works for you. You will have a long term relationship with your agent. The agent is focussed on finding you work.An agent represents you and is paid a percentage of what you earn. She can help you negotiate a higher rate for your work than what you would have obtained for yourself. The more you are paid, the more the agent is paid.She works hard to get your work seen and earn her representation fee. Sometimes agents are called artists reps.

A RECRUITER works for and is paid by a company. You can also have a long term relationship with a recruiter but his focus is on finding people for a specific company. Candidates (artists) don't pay recruiters.Since the recruiter works for the company he is not dedicated to helping you find work, but rather he is dedicated to finding the best people for his client, the company which employs or hires him. A recruiter serves the company, matching candidates (artists, writers, etc) to the company's needs. The recruiter's services are free to candidates.

An agent is paid when she fills a job opening with one of her clients. A recruiter gets paid when he fills a job opening with any qualified candidate.

Here is how to work with an agent: Usually you have an exclusive relationship with an agent. You only have one agent representing you for all the work you do. Her efforts are directed toward helping you get work and get paid more. You can call an agent and ask for updates on what is happening.An agent works for you.

Here is how to work with a recruiter: You can work with more than one recruiter. Send your resume and a cover letter and you will be contacted for work samples if you fit a clients' needs. Recruiters keep a large database of resumes. In your cover letter tell the recruiter if you are open to relocation and where. This means more than just moving across town--it could mean moving out of state or out of the country, so consider carefully and let the recruiter know precisely what your situation is. Don't expect a recruiter to help you find work. A recruiter will not call you unless your experience and skills match one of the job openings he is trying to fill.

Would an agent be interested in working with me?

An agent makes money only if her clients are working, so she wants clients who are easy to employ. You must show an agent that you are a professional. Be prepared to present your product, which is not your voice, your portfolio, demo reel or script. It is you she is representing. You must prove to her that you are employable and have a track record of work. Your skills must be in demand and you must be so ardent that it's contagious to the agent.

To represent you, an agent needs to know that you are easy to work with, that you won't take an inordinate portion of her time or efforts, and that you can find jobs on your own. Contact agents and find out if they are taking on new clients--and if they are looking for a client in your specialty. If you can show that you are a creative talent, who works hard, delivers what you promise, and knows the business, you may be ready for an agent.

Would a recruiter be interested in working with me?

A recruiter needs to know as many people as possible and have as large a talent pool to draw upon as he can. He always accepts resumes and cover letters from candidates. His job is to match candidates with job openings. You will hear from the recruiter if you meet the requirements of one of his job openings because he gets paid when he fills a job opening for a client.

Why should I use an agent?

Your agent can introduce you to prospective employers and negotiate for you. Agents often have more contacts than you do and hear about opportunities before you might.

Supply recruiters with a current resume and a cover letter detailing your availability. Make sure the recruiters know about you, so when an opening comes up, they can reach you.

Both agents and recruiters can help you find the job you want.

Pamela Thompson is a recruiter and career coach. Her clients include Stan Lee Media, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Digital Domain, Simex Digital Studios and Big Idea Productions. She is currently recruiting for Macromedia.