Recruiter Discussion

Does anyone have any good/bad experiences with specific recruiters? What should one look for in a recruiter? When should a recruiter be used?

I’m curious what the site rules will be on this. On the old AO recruiter talk was required to be fairly recruiter-agnostic. You could talk about experiences with recruiters and advice working with recruiters, but weren’t really supposed to talk about recruiting firms specifically (unless you were singing the praises of DWS).

Are we going to allow positive/negative talk about specific recruiting firms here?

Numbered, 'cause actuary.

  1. I’m sure many people do, so that answers your question. Personally? I do not have good or bad experiences recently. 20 years ago I had an issue with two recruiters claiming my commission on an offer that I didn’t get because of it. I had a better experience later when a recruiter simply sent me every opening in the whole country (USA) that matched my experience, then I weeded them out from there (preferences were location, company, money, advancement potential). I didn’t get any of those jobs, despite traveling to two of them. Found something closer by on my own.
  2. I don’t really know, since they don’t work for you as much as they do for the company which pays commissions and for which repeat business keeps them fed (unless you appear to be a career job-jumper). So, what they have that you need is that list of openings, especially those not easily found on the internet (like at monsters-dot-com). Remember that it is a small profession, so using monsters-dot-com invites a lot of unqualified people to apply.
  3. I’ve used recruiters pretty sparingly, but I have used them when I’ve been so desperate that I’ll move anywhere, and a recruiter has a much wider network than I have.

Important tip: if you use more than one recruiter (or if you also do your own research), note the date, time, what company, and which recruiter (or you) first found the opening.

From what I can tell, the site owners are not recruiters.

However, I hope that posters can refrain from vague attacks on specific recruiters.

Rules? No rules on this specifically. As Dr T. Non-Fan suggests, be constructive and polite I guess.

I used a recruiter when I was looking a year before I actually made a move. The recruiter was a nice guy and I was quite positive on him up until the actual offer stage. I wanted slightly more than the company was offering which was partly driven by me facing some pretty steep exam-related clawbacks due to the timing. It later became clear the recruiter was doing a fair bit of taking what I was saying and taking what the company was saying and massaging things around a bit to try and seal the deal based on his assumptions about what the company might be wiling to do, when in the end I went with something else because it took so long (despite their final offer being what I would have taken originally and what he assumed they’d be unwilling to do, namely a large signing to offset a bit of base).

My more recent job search I just made a spreadsheet of all companies I could theoretically work for as an actuary in a commutable distance (there’s a handy map) and scored them based on size, prestige, etc. Then I just sorted on ranking and started checking their openings. It’s definitely the more time intensive way to do it but I think I’d so the same again next time.

I liked working with recruiters when I was open to change but not actively searching for a new position. A good recruiter will help you narrow down what you really want from a placement, learn from your choices, and provide good possible matches. I guess it is pretty much the same criteria as a good real estate buyer’s agent. When actively searching I preferred working with one recruiter. Doing research on your own is time consuming but worth it.

As far as specific recruiters. I liked Claude Penland as a poster, he seemed like a decent dude. I never worked with him professionally. The recruiter I used back in the 90’s the last time I looked for an actuarial position, I can’t remember his name. He was not with one of the bigger firms, maybe worked with Pauline Reimer, I’m not sure. When we were shooting the shit on the phone, talking about working from home, he did tell me he placed an actuary in the nude. He was in the shower when the call came with the offer acceptance and he was trying not to drip on his notes as he wrote down the details. 25 years ago he was a good dude to work with, wish I could give you a name.

I’ve had very good experience with Actuarial Careers Inc.
Actually surprised me because shortly out of college when in my first job, I used to be in touch with a recruiter from there who didn’t seem great and left a bad impression, but years later got in touch with someone else who is there now. They really listened to my interests/preferences, only showed me roles that matched what I was looking for, etc. Legitimately helpful during comp negotiations where I was seeking a bit above the company’s budget. Much better than my experience with anyone else.

Elsewhere I had a recruiter present me to a company with an accidentally cut/pasted blurb about “my experience” that was actually a totally different person’s experience. Also they got confused and presented me to a different job at a company than the one I’d said I was interested in (there were 2 openings, one I was qualified for, one I was not). Made for an awkward interview. Won’t post this recruiter’s name but big firm.

Yeah, I think I prefer Actuarial Careers to DW Simpson, but either one is fine. I too liked Claude Penland the poster, so if/when I’m next looking I might give Ezra Penland a call.

I dealt with Claude as our point of contact at DWS with the AO. He was always happy and professional to work with, very accomodating with us. He was also coordinated the transition from serena and sl to dws, again, very accomodating. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again.

On the hiring side we’ve been working with Selby Jennings and we always get these 2 page resumes. Candidates will properly format a resume and they’ll slap their giant logo on top forcing the resume to a new page. I don’t mind a recruiter putting a header or a footer on, but no need to ruin the resume.

I also used to always get calls from them and IMO they are just too aggressive about their marketing to passive candidates. I actually love getting pushed random job postings from recruiters just to keep an eye on what’s available, but getting cold called is annoying.

I used DWS to land the only job change I’ve had. That was the only time I’ve been actively searching. That was a good experience and I would probably use them again. Though I have some hesitation after they suddenly dropped AO and ruined their salary survey.


Selby Jennings is the worst as a candidate. Them and Oliver James seem like they’re calling me to waste my time. I don’t pick up when they call and their emails go straight to spam.

My first experience with both of them many years back: Great you have a role, you’ll send my resume. Awesome, let’s try it out. A couple of weeks later, another call, same recruiter. I answer and ask what became of that role, thinking they maybe they want to give me some good news? After a few seconds I realize, they have no idea who I am or that they talked to me before and have no idea what became of that role. From that one experience realized they’re incompetent and have no idea what they’re doing.