Tips For Successfully Working With a Recruiter

Looking for a job is a full time job. Many job seekers reach out to a recruiter or two in hopes of taking some of the leg work off themselves. So many job seekers don’t really understand what recruiters do so they generally have a lot of misconceptions of what it is we can do to help you in your search.

Please understand that there is more than one type of recruiter out there. Generally speaking there are three main categories of recruiters – contingent, retained, and corporate, with of course, sub-categories within of each of those. The following is a general description of each:

  • Corporate recruiters are internal employees of a company whose main responsibility is to screen through and filter out unqualified candidates as per the job description requirements. Corporate recruiters are not involved in the budgeting or head count process. They are not responsible for the actual hiring decision. Even many hiring managers don’t understand that it is not a corporate recruiter’s job to fill a position but to help the hiring manager fill their staffing need. A corporate recruiter is not the same as an HR Generalist who often times has some recruiting responsibilities in addition to things like employee relations, benefits, and payroll.
  • Contingent recruiters act as an independent contact between their client companies and the job seekers/candidates. In most cases contingent recruiters compete against many other firms to fill the positions they work on and they get paid only when their candidate is hired and starts working at the client company. Some contingent recruiters are large agencies with a database of resumes. Some are independent individuals who sometimes have the ability to develop a more personal relationship with the candidates they recruit.
  • Retained recruiters also act as an independent contact between their client companies and candidates but they work as an exclusive vendor on the positions they recruit for. They receive a retainer (up-front fee) to perform a specific search for a company, normally at the senior and greater than six figure level salaries.

Based on information I have learned from frustrated job seekers and candidates over the years, here are some important things to remember:

  • There are good recruiters and bad recruiters. Sometimes you have some frustrating experiences to find a good one. Don’t let them give the rest of the industry a bad name.
  • In most situations, the job-seeker is NOT the recruiter’s customer, the organization is since they pay the bills.
  • A recruiter does not ‘get’ you a job. Their role is to work with the client, understand their need and find the best match to fit that spot. Basically to find a square peg to fit in a square hole. Not only does the peg have to be square but it also has to fit perfectly.
  • Personality does play a part! You may be the most qualified person as per the requirements on paper but you need to mesh with the hiring manager, the team and the organization as a whole.
  • Please realize that recruiters sometimes struggle to get feedback from hiring managers just like candidates do. If a recruiter is not calling you back it often means they just don’t know what to tell you or there just wasn’t any specific feedback to give. General rule, if the client company doesn’t respond in a reasonable time frame then it is most likely not a good sign and you would be wise to invest your time and efforts elsewhere.

To help you identify a recruiter you may want to work with keep in mind:

  • Recruiters can best help those that have some specialization in their career. Someone that has a very varied background is not as likely to make as much progress working with a recruiter.
  • Find a recruiter that specializes in your job-function and industry. They will be more likely to have opportunities that are appropriate for you.
  • Not all recruiters know about all job openings.
  • A recruiter based in a specific city does not imply they make placements in that city.
  • It is your responsibility as a job seeker to track where you have applied and been submitted.
  • If a recruiter recognizes your number on caller id you might be calling just a little too much!
  • And personality still plays a part. You should be able to easily develop a rapport and build a relationship with your recruiter.

Just as you are interviewing with a company, you should first interview the recruiter to find out a little about them and if and how they can help you. Here are a few suggestions of questions you can ask:

o How long they have been in the recruiting business?

o How long have they been recruiting in your specific industry?

o What is their relationship with the client company and hiring manager?

o How many placements they have made in general/at that company in the last year?

o Why were they interested in speaking to you?

Bottom line, a recruiter is just a piece of the puzzle in your job search, not the whole puzzle.


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