A job search is deceptively straightforward: you find positions for which you are qualified, submit an application, and, if you are a good match, have an interview. Should the interview go well, you’ll receive an offer, negotiate, and take the job. Right?

Well, not exactly. Job searches are complex, and can present unexpected hurdles – ones that a recruiter is uniquely equipped to help you negotiate. That’s where the benefits of using a search firm come in. As an executive recruiter myself, I have extensive experience, a vast professional network, and unique insights on the market that can assist job seekers at every level of their career.

So, why use an executive search firm? Here are five reasons why recruiters can be essential to your success.

Access to a Professional Network – Industry-specific recruiters have access to a professional network that is both vast and highly specialized. They can help you form crucial alliances that will fuel your success on the job hunt, assist you in navigating Human Resources, and engage their contacts to get your resume to the top of the pile.

Confidential Information – Be the first to know about opportunities that are not yet posted on job boards or potential openings that companies hope to fill quickly and seamlessly. Perhaps a company needs to fill a role because the incumbent is being promoted, for example, and it behooves both parties to keep that information unpublicized. Recruiters often help employers write job postings, so they have distinct perspectives on hiring managers’ top priorities.

Focused Guidance – Remember: hiring companies incentivize recruiters to find the right fit for the job. For this reason, recruiters are invested in providing effective job search support to candidates. Resume feedback, interview coaching, and advice about negotiating job offers are valuable tools that will make you a formidable candidate.

A Sense of What You’re Worth – Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether you are a contender for your ideal job. A recruiter knows the competition and understands what companies actually value in specific roles. Your recruiter can give you an idea of what you’d really be worth, which can bolster your confidence at interviews and facilitate negotiations.

A Purpose-Driven Employment Search Strategy – What’s the difference between searching job boards and working with an executive search firm? It’s the difference between window shopping, on the one hand, and making a well-researched, well-planned investment of your time, on the other. A recruiter can manage your job search at every level, at your pace, and with your priorities in mind.

Of course, it is essential to find the most qualified and well-connected recruiters in your industry. Find a great recruiter, and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Have you partnered with a professional recruiter in the past? What were the biggest benefits of working with an executive search firm?