Recruiters get a bad reputation, especially these days. I know I do my fair share of recruiter bashing on occasion, but it’s like my Dad used to say. “I’m one of them, so I can talk about them“. I won’t tell you the context in which he meant that comment! But let’s just say I agree. I’m just not like most of them.
While recruiters have their faults, I won’t be so mean to say that every thing wrong with the job search process is their fault exclusively. There’s plenty of finger pointing to go around for everyone. There are good recruiters out there (like ME) who really do get it. But because recruiters drive the process and the economy and job market are so horrible, they are directly in the line of fire on a daily basis. Many deserve to be in that line, but some do not. It’s up to you, the job seeker, to learn how to co-exist with the good ones.
It really doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to build a good relationship with recruiters. But you have to be willing to build the relationships. And believe it or not, there are recruiters out there who would love to have a solid relationship with you. Here are four things you should know about working with recruiters that nobody probably ever told you.
Understand the different types of recruiters and how they work. I mentioned this in a previous post. All recruiters are not created equally. The first thing to understand is there are different types of recruiters. Corporate or in-house recruiters work directly for the company. Their job is to fill the open positions for the company as quickly as possible per the hiring managers’ specifications. They are salaried and not often incentivized to fill positions. The only incentive is fill the jobs or lose theirs. Agency recruiters come in two varieties. Retained Search (Executive Recruiters, Headhunters) are third party recruiters hired for hard to fill and/or high level or executive positions. They are paid regardless because they are hired on retainer to get the job filled. The other agency type is a Contingent Recruiter. These are recruiters who work for firms who are part of a larger pool of firms to fight to fill a position. The winner is the one that fills the position and gets paid. The others, although they may not have filled the position but worked hard (that’s subjective) to find appropriate candidates, don’t get paid). So they’re not as invested in harder to fill positions. They prefer the low hanging, easier to fill positions.
The Corporate Recruiter SHOULD be invested in building relationships with candidates, but most times don’t. Retained Recruiters do have a vested interest in some candidates and often build relationships, but not as many as they should (remember, they’re paid by the company). Contingent Recruiters have no loyalty and a candidate is only as useful as their skills dictate. Keep in mind that you, the candidate, are a commodity. Sometimes you’re valuable, sometimes you’re just taking up database space. If you want to move beyond taking up space, make sure you connect with the right recruiters and build real relationships with the ones who are worth knowing. And the ones worth knowing are the ones who specialize in your industry and area of expertise.
Connect to build a real networking relationship. Many people think the story ends once you’ve submitted an application and maybe had an interview. But that’s not the end. It’s only the beginning. Even if you don’t get the job, there is no law that says you can’t keep in touch with a recruiter. In fact, I recommend you do. Again, if the recruiter is someone worth knowing. Get to know the recruiter and what their hot spots are. If you’re connected on social media, you should be able to get an idea of what their interests are and what they are talking about. You can make it a point to share pertinent articles and posts with them as related to your industry and their specialization.
For instance, if you’re an IT professional and the recruiter specializes in IT, share your thoughts about new technology, interesting stories about tech companies, or technology related events. If you write, host a podcast or produce videos online that showcase your knowledge or talent, share those with them as well. If you know of an important conference coming to their area, or a networking event where a great deal of professionals will be in attendance, send them an invitation or at least the details. Also, don’t be afraid to send them referrals to other talented candidates. Recruiters love referrals. And if you already have a relationship established with them, your referral will most likely get priority treatment.
Make sure they understand your need for confidentiality and respect it. Just because you submit your resume to a recruiter, doesn’t mean they have authority to submit you to every company they come in contact with. A lot of recruiters (third party agency recruiters) will pass along your resume as a means to test the waters to see if the company would be willing to work with them. In the very beginning, you let them know if you give them permission to freely distribute your resume or if you want to have full disclosure to everyone they want to submit it to. If you’re conducting a confidential job search, they should be honoring that and not submitting you all over God’s creation. You have a right to confidentiality, especially if you haven’t alerted your current employer that you’re seeking employment elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to require that respect from a recruiter. Good recruiters will respect that. Make sure you ask them how they will store your resume, how it will be used, and what their submission policy is.
Keep the lines of communication open even when you don’t need a job. I can’t stress networking enough. Many times people, candidates, will ignore the calls of recruiters while they are gainfully employed. This is a big mistake. Sometimes a recruiter will call you about a possible better position. Some times they’re calling to see who you can recommend. But as I mentioned above, you MUST keep the lines of communication open. Checking in on a quarterly basis or even twice a year is more than acceptable. I’m not saying you have to be BFFs or anything like that. But you should keep recruiters close by. The main reason is so that when you are on the market, you’ll be front of mind for them. You want them to know that you’re looking. The other reason is because they have insights even when they don’t have positions themselves to fill. Recruiters network amongst themselves so they are in the know about positions.
Let’s say you’re interested in relocating. That local recruiter you’ve established a good relationship with most likely has friends (other recruiters) that live and work in other areas. And if they don’t they know who does. Your relationship comes in handy because they’d be willing to facilitate an introduction for you. But only if they already know you. See how that works? Build a relationship, receive in kind assistance. One hand washes the other.
Also, good, connected recruiters are usually up to speed on the industry happenings. Because of the different company needs and forward projections, recruiters are privy to staffing plans and projects that companies anticipate. So you might want to be in a position to be a beneficiary of this valuable intel. And you can only benefit if you have a relationship with a good recruiter.
So don’t just turn to them when you’re looking for a job. Recruiters can be your greatest allies in you job hunt. They can also provide you with information that can help determine your path before you set out on a search. Take the time to get to know a few recruiters. Make your relationship a two way street.
Til next time,
One of the last great recruiters!
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Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation (www.empowerme.org). She is a strategist that helps people grow their career, business or network in any economy. She is the voice behind Views from the Top Radio Show, and the creative visionary behind Empower Me! Institute and Empower Me! Magazine. Her writing and shows focus on Career Management, Networking Strategies, Entrepreneurial Success and Small Business Management. You can also find her causing a ruckus on Forbes.com.