Practical Tips for Working with Recruiters

Recruiters can be strong allies in your job hunt or career advancement. Here are a few tips to make the most of your relationship with recruiters and headhunters.

First, it is important to understand that recruiters don’t work for you. The clients of recruiters are employers, not job-seekers. If it were possible, recruiters would like to get everyone a job but that simply isn’t realistic. A recruiter’s job is to find the best person for their client to hire. If you meet the specifications of a current assignment, a recruiter is your greatest asset in getting the job.

Develope a Relationship

When a recruiter calls, ask key questions as you decide whether to work with him or her. Ask what recruiting firm they represent. Inquire about the recruiter’s process.

Ask about his or her experience with your industry. Most recruiters specialize in specific industries and job functions. You will likely have the most productive relationships with recruiters specializing in your field and/or job function.

Take note if the recruiter is a good listener. A successful placement requires the recruiter to understand your needs and desires as well as the employer’s. Then conduct research to get a feel for the recruiter’s reputation and decide whether to proceed.

Communicate Effectively

Tailor your communications to each recruiter’s preferences. Ask how each recruiter prefers to be contacted (phone? email?) and stay in touch periodically, but don’t be a pest. A good rule of thumb is an initial follow-up call after you submit your materials and one to two weeks afterwards. Also if you update your resume, resubmit it or contact the recruiter to relay your new information.

Don’t take it personally if the recruiter doesn’t call you back. If the recruiter hasn’t responded it likely means they are waiting for feedback from the employer, there is no new information to report or there is not a current match for your skills. Most successful recruiters cannot possibly return every candidate phone call. The volume is simply too high.

Build Trust

Once you are working with the recruiter and interviewing with the client employer, don’t contact the employer directly. Trust your recruiter to see you through the process. In most cases, the recruiter has the experience and wisdom to give you the best advice as you work through your interactions with the client employer.

Don’t back out of your commitments once you have agreed to be a candidate. Be sure you’re willing to see the process through. Be up front if you’re not serious about pursuing an opportunity. You will quickly fall out of favor if you back out.

Discuss your compensation needs and wants with the recruiter. The recruiter has developed a relationship with the potential employer, so let the recruiter negotiate your compensation package for you.

Show Appreciation

Thank your recruiter at the end of the process. Failing to express gratitude is a mistake. A simple thank you goes a long way toward cementing your relationship however; few candidates exercise this simple common courtesy. Giving the recruiter a LinkedIn recommendation is a huge plus.

After you have the new job, serve as a resource to your recruiter. You can ensure a lasting relationship by recommending top-performing friends and members of your network. It’s a win-win.