Recruiters that specialize in your specific area of interest can be a tremendous asset to a job search. These individuals are experts on companies hiring in your field, company hiring preferences, company cultures, growth trajectories, relevant roles and titles for your experience level, industry trends, and hiring cycles. Their experience allows them to ask pertinent questions and dive deep into what you are looking for, and provide insight for your search.
A 10 minute conversation with a recruiter can often provide more insight into a specific industry, a particular role, and trends, than hours of searching on-line. These individuals can be a great resource, but how do you work most effectively with them? I wrote an article a few months ago called “How to identify relevant recruiters.” In this follow up article, I provide pointers for how to make the most of your interaction, from the perspective of the recruiter.
Recruiters work for companies
Recruiters work for companies to identify talent, and companies pay recruiters for this service. As a job seeker, it is important to know that one common misconception about a recruiter’s job is to search for jobs on behalf of the job seeker. Obviously, recruiters want to help talent find the right role but, ultimately, their ability to place someone with a company is dependent on them having a role that best matches the individual’s skills and experiences. Therefore, while a recruiter can be a tremendous help to your job search, do not assume that they will be cold calling companies on your behalf to place you. This is rarely the case.
The best strategy, as I discuss below, is to be honest and open with your recruiter, and develop a relationship with them so that they will contact you when the most appropriate opportunities arise. Recruiters actively connect with talent relevant to the type of roles they work on and often will make themselves available for an introductory call to learn more about a person’s background and interests.
Be honest about what you are looking for in a particular role (i.e.responsibilities, title, salary, growth opportunities, company culture, stage, size, focus, and all other factors that are important to you). If you don’t know what you are looking for and/or are unable to articulate this, a recruiter will have a hard time helping you. You may also have a hard time helping yourself. Your honesty allows a recruiter to match you with roles they are working on that are a true fit for you.
When you discuss a role with a recruiter, if you are not interested in the role, let them know why so that they can keep you in mind for roles that are a better fit. Recruiters want to be respectful of their client’s time, and your time, and do not want to submit candidates who are un-interested in, or not a fit for, an opportunity. Furthermore, a recruiter’s reputation is based on their ability to “make a good match” between their client and the talent pool that they have developed. Submitting poorly matched or unqualified candidates to their clients will quickly spoil their reputation. This is important to keep in mind if you become frustrated that the recruiter you are working with hasn’t submitted you for roles that they are working on.
Working with a recruiter should be a two-way street. If you are not interested in a particular role or are not a good fit, but know someone who is, by all means let your recruiter know. You might just help out a friend, not to mention the recruiter, in the process.
You and the recruiter are a team throughout the job interview process
Once you and a recruiter determine that a role is a good fit, you and the recruiter are a team with a common goal (i.e. an accepted job offer). This is when the true value of working with a recruiter becomes apparent. The recruiter should discuss specific details of the role with you to build upon the basic details listed in the job description. They will often provide resume critique and advice on how to highlight your skills and address potential weaknesses. They will schedule interviews, provide interview prep and feedback for each interview round, and will walk you through the offer process. They are your point person for any and all questions, and will help you with anything you need as you go through the interview and offer process. A good recruiter should make this process seamless and stress free for both the candidate and company.
When a recruiter works on a role, their client typically want to hire someone ASAP. Thus, there is limited time to identify relevant candidates. Recruiters therefore need candidates to respond quickly when contacted if they are interested in the role. Waiting a few days or weeks to respond could mean a missed opportunity because the role has already been filled, or the candidate shortlist already been submitted. Candidates who are actively job searching should have an up to date resume and be actively engaged in the process. Time matters.
Keep track of the applications you have already submitted
As mentioned above, the recruiter’s job is to identify new talent for the client. Recruiters cannot re-submit talent for a role that they have already applied for. So, you have already applied for a specific position, be sure to tell the recruiter up front. There is nothing worse than having a recruiter find out after they have submitted you that you already applied for the job.
Interview Prep, offers and feedback
A recruiter should be there from start to finish. This starts with helping the candidate with their resume to ensure that all relevant information and experience for a particular role is properly highlighted. A recruiter should also provide the candidate with interview preparation. It is the responsibility of any good recruiter to make sure the candidate is fully prepared. After the interview, the recruiter serves as the point of contact for both the candidate and the company, and will be there to help with any specific questions that might come up.
If the company decides to make the candidate an offer, the recruiter will be there to help the candidate understand not only the terms of the offer, but to help negotiate on the candidate’s behalf. This is where an experienced recruiter can come in rather handy. Unlike most people, they have seen hundreds if not thousands of offers over the years and will know what is reasonable and fair for a particular role. They also serve as a point of contact with the company. If an offer is made and accepted, you can then look to your recruiter for help negotiating when to start work. If, on the other hand, the company has decided to go in another direction, you should look to your recruiter for good honest feedback.
I hope you find this information helpful for your search. Investing the time to build relationships with relevant recruiters and being honest about what you are looking for will be beneficial for your search.