You may be in your dream job but that doesn’t mean you should blow off the recruiter or executive search consultant if they come calling. Getting inundated with recruiters' calls if you have sought-after skills can be annoying, but you never know when the roles will reverse and you will be the one looking for a job.
“It’s very common (for people to blow off recruiters calls) and it always leaves us scratching our heads,” says Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied in New York. “We very often know about positions that no one knows about. At the end of the day you want to be the first person we think of.”
For the happily employed it doesn’t hurt to take the phone call. After all they may have an amazing job for you. Not to mention you are clearly wanted because they are the ones seeking out you. Even if the job may not be right for you but could be ideal for someone you know which creates a win win situation. You get to refer someone you care about and you create a relationship with the recruiter because you are helping out.
Landing a better position or referring a friend or family member are the primary reasons you want to take a recruiters phone call, but it’s not the only reasons. Recruiters can be a great source of industry information as well as a sounding board as you navigate your career.
“Recruiters know which industries are shifting, which companies are growing, who is downsizing, and they are able to share this information in a third-party, non-biased way,” says Tom Gimbel, president and chief executive of LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing company. “They know which skill sets are in demand, which certifications you need to grow your career and what you need to succeed in a role.” Not to mention recruiters know a lot of people and can connect you with mentors, key players and others who can help you’re career.
But not every recruiter or executive search consultant is created equal. You don’t want to waste your time with someone who can’t help you just like you don’t want to blow off the one that can. Figuring out who to create a relationship with and who to avoid can take work but it’s not impossible to do.
According to experts, when determining who is a good ally and who is a waste of time, do some quick research. If you get a call from a recruiter check out his or her LinkedIn page. See what types of clients they’ve placed what firms they work for and how long they have been in the business. Rightly or wrongly the amount of experience the person has as a recruiter matters a lot. Typically someone starting out in the recruiting field isn’t going to have the same contacts as someone who has been in the industry for years. It’s perfectly ok to ask how long they’ve been doing this, what industries they specialize in and what their client base is like. “Finding a good recruiter is no different than looking for good networking contacts. Ask you friends and colleagues who has a good reputation,” says Susan Ruhl, a managing partner at OI Partners Innovative Career Consulting in Denver. “Research firms and individuals on LinkedIn.”
Once you figure out which recruiters you want to build relationships with then you can start the building. One of the most important things to do is establish boundaries up front as to how the relationship will go. For instance if the recruiter makes a habit of calling your office phone but you work in an open office environment tell the recruiter to phone you after hours or during your lunch hour on your mobile phone.
Equally important, says Harris is to make sure the conversations that do take place whether over the phone, email, text or in person are confidential. The last thing you want to happen is your boss to get wind of your newfound friendship with the recruiter for a competitor.
If you do decide to pursue an opportunity provided by a recruiter career experts say the best way to maintain an honest relationship is to be upfront about your experience, your skills and your weaknesses. Any embellishments will easily be revealed once the recruiter starts checking your credentials. It’s also a good idea to treat any interviews with a recruiter or executive search firm as if you were interviewing with the company. “A retained search firm is an extension of its client organizations, and should be treated as such during the interview process,” says to Linda Komnick, principal at Witt/Kieffer, the national executive search firm. “The search firm is expected to screen potential candidates based on mutually defined criteria, so think of your interview with the recruiter as your first interview in the hiring process.”