Career Advice

What NOT To Do When You’re Starting To Work With A Recruiter

Recruiters are in demand these days by job seekers eager to move into new assignments and by employers seeking hard-to-find staffers.

So recruiting a recruiter takes thought and effort.

Some things will either turn a recruiter away or ruin any relationship you’ve started. Most missteps reflect badly on your integrity or honesty and some just make you look uninformed about the recruiter’s role.  A recruiter’s role is to find and fill jobs for an employer, which is her client.

So here are seven serious mistakes to avoid when working with a recruiter:

1. Don’t lie about your achievements, salary or expertise. Most are verifiable and your misinformation may be discovered, said Kathleen Kurke, who’s president of the Pinnacle Society, an elite recruiters organization. It’s all right to present yourself in the best possible light; it’s not all right to hide the truth or inflate your salary by $30,000.

2. Do not target a recruiter outside your industry or profession. Dig up those who specialize in your field – even if they work far from you. Geography matters less than concentration in your field, says Kurke, who’s the national practice leader for Starbridge Group, which works in the education, training and technology arenas.

3. Avoid listing skills and experience you don’t want to use in your next job. If you are an excellent sales manager, but want to move into business development work, focus your resume on the next job and leave out the things you want to leave behind, Kurke said.

4. Don’t leave unanswered basic questions. Tell the recruiter who referred you; be clear about your willingness to relocate. Explain your situation succinctly and your target job. “Answer my questions so I don’t have to ask them,” said Bob Corlett, president of Staffing Advisors, which recruiters for nonprofit, association and entrepreneurs.

5. Don’t “dance around the issue” of whether you’re in the market for a new job, Corlett said. If you’re a passive job hunter, you may get extra points in some sectors, but the key things are your credentials and expertise. Recruiters will be discrete, partly because they want good candidates in their database.

6. Don’t ask for basic career advice. Recruiters won’t help you change careers or plan your transition, Corlett said. Most will not assist with resume updates either. Those are the domain of an outplacement counselor or career coach or friend.

7. Don’t be follow-up junkie. Too much checking in and inquiry feels like you’re stalking them – don’t do it.

Think about things from the recruiter’s standpoint too – and win points by referring other great candidates her way. “It’s sort of like managing up when you work for somebody,” said Kurke. You need to give them value and ask them for assistance climbing the ladder.

(For some smart strategies for luring a recruiter onto your team, see my recent Washington Post article “Do your own recruiter searching long before you’ll be job searching.”)