Be nice to your recruiter when he is offering you career advice, for he is not getting paid

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Recruiters are having a hard time. Although there are jobs out there, they are generally exceeded by candidates. And the candidates don't seem to match the jobs.

"We still have a flow of roles across the business, but clients have very high expectations and the CVs we're getting don't match them," complains a director at one front office recruitment firm. "People sending in their CVs aren't the top performers."

As such, both recruiters and headhunters complain of spending more and more time providing careers advice to unplaceable candidates and less and less time placing people in roles and earning a fee.

"Careers advice has always been part of the job, but there seem to be a lot more people wanting your time nowadays," says a consultant at a search firm. "I spend a lot of my days advising people how to go about marketing themselves in this environment as well as showing people that they're employable outside the City."

There can be advantages to this, but they won't pay the mortgage next month.

"You always hope that the candidates you advise will remember you and use your services as a client when they find a new role," says the consultant. "There will be payback in the future. On the other hand, it's also good to be altruistic and to try and help someone anyway."

However, other recruiters insist on the inadvisability of offering too much in the way of gratuitous advice.

"At the end of the day, we need to get paid and to spend our time on the people who can bring in fees," says one. "People will value the advice you give if it leads directly to a new role," says another. "Away from that, I get the feeling that people think careers advice is just a resource recruiters offer for free."