My take on this, coming at it from the recruiting side:
A good recruiter will take the utmost care in not “screwing over” their candidates. There is no benefit to doing that, not to the candidate, not to the hiring company, and not to themselves. Confidentiality is VERY valuable; trust, respect and a reputation can be destroyed in an instant if a recruiter does not adequately protect the candidate as well as the client.
I disagree with Xtian’s comments that a recruiter has no value or purpose in a competitive or creative field. A recruiter serves a number of purposes; to work with their client (the hiring company) to define as clearly as possible the job they need filled, to source viable, high-quality candidates for those jobs, to create a situation in which there is a -high- probability that the candidate is a good match for the job, the company, the culture, etc.
ESPECIALLY in high-competition fields a recruiter adds one additional element that’s often overlooked: they, as a third party, can call on direct competitors to recruit. Imagine a McCann-Ericksson HR person calling directly into Saatchi to see if anyone would be interested in jumping ship. Highly unethical, and probably grounds for a law suit. A recruiter, however, is in a position to do just that.
Now, I know that there’s a general opinion out there that recruiters are sleazeballs, only in it for their own benefit. True, it’s a business, a money-making game. Recruiters get paid by their clients, the companies that hire the candidates recruiters present. However, that DOESN’T mean that recruiting -needs- to be a ‘dirty’ business.
I myself make a VERY distinct effort to work with my candidates to understand their needs, desires, motivations, capacity, preferences, etc. The way I look at it is that, if I force a situation on a company and a candidate to put a few bucks in my pocket, it’s going to come back to haunt me sooner than later. Either the person hates the job and quits, in which case I have to find a replacement for free, or the company fires the person, in which case I have to find a replacement for free, or, and this is the worst, both the company and the person refuse to ever work with me again and put the word out there that I suck at what I do. Not a pretty scenario.
Sorry for the longwinded response… I’m not even a recruiter in the design industry, although I’m considering adding it to my area of interest. I’d be happy to talk further with you if you so desire.