Lately, Ive spoken with quite a few folks ready to move on from jobs they've stayed in because of the recession, or maybe, by necessity have been forced into seeking a new opportunity. In some cases, market conditions drive their careers into a new direction and sometimes they are coming back from a long hiatus due to child rearing or other personal circumstances.

The common theme for all and at every level, is how to go about finding the next great opportunity. Timing and luck play a small part, sure. But in a competitive marketplace, trying to compete for opportunities others may seem more qualified for is very frustrating and demotivating.

Its important to understand a recruiters role in all of this. We, as recruiters, are out there competing too. That means we experience the same frustrations, roadblocks and opportunities our candidates do. What needs to be understood, is that recruiters are paid the fees they command to locate and secure specific talent. That generally means the client has determined they are unable to source a specific skill set/experience on their own and need to rely on an expert to seek out and obtain their precise qualifications.

In my particular situation, most of my clients and candidates are specific to my region in Southern California. Sometimes that means when folks in my network hear I have an opportunity,  our very association might give them cause to assume I will represent them for a role.

Id like to bring a little clarity to how successful Executive Recruiters become and stay successful. We are discerning. Our clients are entrusting us to bring the best possible fit, experience and skill set to them. Our reputation is built on results  provided as efficiently and quickly as is possible. It doesnt mean we don't like, respect or care about our pool of candidates.  It just means, at this time, a particular candidate is not appropriate to a position we are recruiting for. You, the candidate, must also trust when we make the decision of who and who not to represent.

Look at it this way, if I continued to send candidates to clients that are not appropriate to their requirements, how long could I expect same client to continue to give me searches. Clients want results and expect their time to be valued. They trust me determine the best possible outcome and rely on my years of experience to do just that. And how frustrating would it be to candidates to continually vie for roles they may not even get a chance to interview for? Everyones time gets wasted and I cant make the rent!

I understand all too well how challenging and lonely it is to be unemployed or unhappy in a job. So here's the advice I give to colleagues in transition. Help yourself first. Be sure to be well networked of course.  So easy to do with all the social networking and event avenues offered. Its important to build relationships and even more importantly, to maintain them. People recommend and hire people they like and trust. Be genuine. I cant help everyone, but I always try my best to guide them in a helpful direction. That means I put my own agenda aside to be gracious and considerate. So little can mean so much to someone at a critical juncture in their lives.

If you're changing industries or career focus, a recruiter may not be the path for you. If you're coming back from a long hiatus, consider contract work. A recruiter will generally only represent candidates with a current skill set. Their clients demand and expect it.

Be discerning with the recruiters you connect with. Do they work in your sector? At your level? What is their reputation? Are they a volume house or a specialized boutique firm? Importantly, remember the recruiter would love to place you, if he/she has the right opportunity. So value their time and judgment. Understand that their ability to place you is effected by many factors. If you fit the criteria for a specific opportunity, then you may be considered.  And remember, recruiters have long memories and even deeper databases. If not this go around, maybe the next! .

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