Career Management: Working with Recruiters

Ok, so you’ve made contact with a recruiter and are considering working with that person in your job search.  Perhaps you met the recruiter through a colleague or friend.  Maybe the recruiter found you and initiated first contact.  Either way, you’ve had the chance to speak with the recruiter, and it looks like it is going to work out.  The recruiter tells you that there are opportunities for you.  You begin to relax and start to believe that the recruiter will handle your search and present you with multiple lucrative offers on a silver platter.  After all, that’s their job, right?

Wrong.  The biggest misconception that people have when it comes to recruiters is that the recruiter is working for them and is dedicated to finding them a job.  I must admit that I am guilty of falling into that trap as well; many years ago, I put my career in the hands of a recruiter who turned around and placed me with a company which wasn’t a good fit.  Needless to say, it didn’t work out, and I left the company almost as soon as I arrived.  The problem wasn’t that I used a recruiter.  The problem was that I took a completely hands-off approach and never once questioned anything that the recruiter did.  I wasn’t savvy enough to properly leverage the applicant-recruiter-employer relationship.

Who’s the Boss?

Unfortunately, not you.  The recruiter’s clients are the employers.  Their mandate is to find candidates based on the needs of the employer.  They will screen potential candidates and present the employer with a short list of vetted candidates.  Their ultimate goal is to have the employer hire a resource from their list.  When that happens, the recruiter can collect a fee.  There’s an old adage that states, if you want to know who’s in control, just follow the money.  It is clear that in the applicant-recruiter-employer relationship, it is the employer who pays the fee.  They are the boss.

The Motivated Recruiter

Recruiters primarily come in two types: retained and contingency.  Retained recruiters typically have a long term relationship with the employer and are paid for their services regardless.  They collect their money whether or not the employer hires someone from their short list.  These recruiters for the most part are able to disclose to you the name of the employer.  Contingency recruiters on the other hand are on commission, meaning they don’t make a buck unless you are hired.  They are highly motivated, competitive and may sometimes pressure you.  They are unlikely to disclose the name of the employer, and like any retail operative working on commission, see you as their next meal ticket.

The Benefits of Working with Recruiters

At this point you might be thinking it is all doom and gloom working with recruiters.  Well, don’t write them off just yet.  They are extremely beneficial, but it is imperative that you understand how to work with them, and what they bring to the table.  Perhaps the most important thing that a recruiter does for potential applicants is that they are able to bring to your attention exclusive job openings.  These are resources that are in demand, but for one reason or another, the employer has yet to make the need publicly known.  The recruiters can also tell you almost immediately whether you will be in the running for a particular opening.  Remember that the recruiter, particularly the retained recruiters, will cull the list of all applicants, and submit a short list to the employer.   Thus, when they inform you that you’re not a fit for the position, they’re effectively stating that the employer won’t even see your resume.  Knowing that is actually a good thing, because you can then focus your efforts on other opportunities, rather than holding out hope for an opportunity that never even left the station.  Another good thing about working with recruiters is that they may have insight into the final selection process.  If that is the case, then the recruiter may be able to give you additional information you would normally not have had.

How should I work with Recruiters?

A few caveats are in order.  First, you should avoid working with recruiters who demand fee payment.  Despite the weak economy, it is still the employers who foot the bill.  Second, do not authorize the recruiter to freely send out your resume.  Clearly stipulate that the recruiter needs to obtain your permission before sending your resume out to employers.  Third, do not agree to any time commitments associated with the job.  This may be the recruiter’s way of ensuring that they collect on the fee; unfortunately, while this benefits them, it hinders you.

As explained in the beginning of this hub, the recruiter is not beholden unto you.  It will be up to you to maintain contact with the recruiter throughout the process.  You can expect the recruiter to contact you when a significant event takes place (e.g. the employer decides to hire you); however, you cannot expect the recruiter to provide you with periodic briefings on the status of your candidacy.  If there is something you wish to know, you must reach out to your recruiter.

Making the Most of your Meetings with Recruiters

There are some things you can do to prepare for your engagements with recruiters.  At the very least, make sure that you are clear on what it is that you want to do, and equally important, what it is that you absolutely will not do.  Think about it: the recruiter cannot help you if you don’t know what you want.  Another preparation you might do is completing your resume.  Make sure that it is up-to-date and details your most recent work experience and accomplishments.  If you have been with your most recent employer for a long time, then your resume may not have been updated in a while.  Get cranking on that before you speak with a recruiter.  You will also perk up your recruiter if you show up armed with an introductory statement and use it.  Finally, consider your compensation requirements before the meeting.  Conduct your research so you know the potential salary range of the job family that is of interest to you.  Make sure that you can clearly articulate your compensation requirements.

Final Thoughts

Consider the recruiter as an extension of the employer for whom you wish to work.  As such, extend them the same courtesy that you would the employer.  They are professionals and need to be treated as such.  Remember, in many ways, they hold influence and the employers listen to their recommendations.  Ultimately, as with any relationship, you will get what you put into it.  A smooth-running relationship with a recruiter may pay off handsomely down the line.  In today’s economic environment, that’s a relationship worth cultivating.

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Joe 5 years ago

Personally i think we should stop using recruiters and use personal job searchers

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