Job seekers and recruiters may have a love/hate relationship but if it’s handled right, it can be fruitful for both sides.
Entry level job candidates may not find using a recruiter that successful, but for more senior level people it can mean the difference between landing a dream job and an OK one. That’s not to say every great job is the result of a recruiter, but career experts say it can be a useful way to land your next gig as long as you don’t get black listed in the process.
“Great recruiters have long-term relationships with hiring managers that involve a high degree of trust,” says Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied. “They can help you to get an interview for a great job, prepare you to interview successfully, and negotiate your offer package.”
While many people looking for work know a recruiter can be a helpful resource, often they make the mistake of not honing in on the right recruiter. According to Paul Slezak, co-founder of RecruitLoop.com, the recruitment website, job candidates have to find a specialist recruiter that works in the industry or field they want to be in instead of going with a generalist.
One way to find the right person, says Slezak, is to do an Internet search for the type of job you are looking for and see what recruiter’s name keeps coming up for the roles on your level and the ones above you. “Don’t just apply online – or your inquiry will just end up in the vortex” when you find one, says Slezak. “Call the agency, ask to speak to that recruiter personally and make an appointment to meet with them. Offer to take the recruiter out for a coffee just to ‘pick their brains’ and to find out more about the state of the market. You have to be top of mind and not just a name on a database.”
In addition to relying on the Internet to find a recruiter, career experts say to tap your network. Ask colleagues and networking connections from similar fields if they have any recruiters they can recommend, says Amanda Augustine, the job search expert for job website TheLadders, noting the Internet can yield a lot of names of recruiting firms and their contact information. “Don’t underestimate the power of a Google search,” says Augustine. “For instance, you can get a good list of results by searching for ‘financial services recruiters nyc.’”
Finding a recruiter to work with is one thing, but making sure the relationship stays positive can be a delicate balancing act. Relationships between job seekers and recruiters often sour simply because the candidate wrongly assumes he or she is the customer and the recruiter is there to serve them. The recruiter gets paid by the employer, so his or her job is to find the best candidate for the company not find the ideal role for the job seeker. Job seekers who don’t get that can quickly get annoyed if the recruiter isn’t at their beck and call or doesn’t give them updates every day.
“At the end of the day, the recruiter’s loyalty is to the person signing their paychecks – their employer or their agency’s client,” says Augustine. “If you can accept this reality, then you can learn how to make this relationship work for your search, rather than against it.”
According to Slezak, a surefire way to get black listed by a recruiter is to be irritable, refuse to share feedback with the recruiter or turn down an offer at the last minute. Harassing the recruiter with daily phone calls and/or email is another quick way to become persona non grata, he says.
“One thing recruiters hate is the ‘stalking’ job seeker who calls (often literally) every day to ‘see if anything’s come up,” says Slezak. “Job seekers should realize it’s the recruiter’s role to find an opportunity, so if they haven’t called, it’s probably because there isn’t anything suitable.” To prevent yourself from becoming a stalker, career experts say to set the ground rules with the recruiter during the first meeting. For instance ask them how they would like to be contacted and how often you can check in. If the recruiter says “don’t call me I’ll call you” then don’t. Trust that recruiter will contact you immediately if he or she finds a match. On the flip side if you do go on an interview, make sure to get in touch with the recruiter that same day to provide feedback on how you think things went.
“Looking for a job is a full time job in itself. If you can be represented by a specialist recruiter who can speak to dozens of potential employers about you, surely that’s easier than attempting to connect with so many prospective employers yourself,” says Slezak. “But the only way the process works is if both parties treat each other with the level of respect they both deserve.”