Many of us have many stories to tell about working with external recruiters during job searches. Some good, some not so good. It is no different than any other professional role--some folks you can collaborate well with and some present challenges. One of the key hurdles specific to recruiters is that you are working with them during a pivotal time in your personal life: your career transition points. That's what makes these experiences stand out more.
With this in mind, I'd like to share guidelines for job seekers to use to ensure a best-in-class experience working with their present or next recruiter.
Guidelines for a Good Experience with a Recruiter
Feedback from Job Search Professionals Around the Country:
I originally posted the information above in my own personal blog which I shared with many colleagues I follow on Twitter. I requested their feedback, and what I received was very positive and several folks took the time to offer their thoughts on the subject-matter.
The following is offered as a recap of their thoughts. Much of the commentary emphatically stated all this information should be "required reading for anyone using a recruiter." More specifically, the more people that understand how to approach using a recruiter, the better the process works for everyone.
When it comes to my comments about building a relationship with your recruiter, Steve Jones emphasized that “recruiters talk to each other, and if a candidate burns a bridge with one recruiter he may be burning a bridge with many others, including clients.” David Benjamin agrees there are good and bad professionals in the recruiting just like every other industry. He highlighted that “a good recruiter cares more about ‘fit’ than making a placement.” Brad Hogenmiller emphasized once you find a recruiter you really like, “it’s important for job-seekers to maintain those relationships just as they would with an employer.”
Dawn Bugni whole-heartedly agreed about the advice, “Don’t do an end run around your recruiter.” She provided very important feedback that “many candidates think if two recruiters submit their information, they doubled their chance at the job. WRONG! They’ve just knocked themselves out of the running. Few companies get into a candidate/fee argument between two recruiters. They disqualify the candidate.”
Susan Burns shared that the #1 frustration she has heard from job seekers is that recruiters aren’t following up with them. She went on to say that often times, exec recruiters are responsive when they have a specific job they’re working on, but at other times when the job seeker is trying to reach out and build a relationship, too often the recruiter does not respond. She raised an interesting question that asks, “with the technology and tools available today, what should a job seeker expect from an exec recruiter?”
The answer to the question lies in understanding the recruiter’s world. Abby Locke’s article on Building Effective Relationships with Recruiters highlights that recruiters’ daily responsibilities may include:
Regardless of technology assistance, job seekers need to OWN the relationship with the recruiter. By this I mean, realize a job seeker can remember a lot more about their recruiter than the reverse. And, a job seeker can check in with them more consistently than the reverse. Additionally, the relationship can be further strengthened, as Abby suggests, by having:
In reading my original post, Jenifer Olson thought it wise to share the difference between the two main types of recruiters: retained recruiters, who are paid by a company to focus on filling a particular position and who are more or less guaranteed payment (usually for a higher level management role); and, contingency recruiters, who compete with recruiters from a number of agencies to fill the position and who are paid only when and if their applicant is hired.
In Jennifer’s experience, the type of recruiter can make a big difference in both the amount and quality of time spent with a job seeker. Therefore, knowing which type you are dealing with is often helpful in managing your expectations about the recruiting process. I agree that retained recruiters may operate a little differently where they can take their time and not worry about competition. In the end, both SHOULD be searching for the best candidate. If a job seeker is a true fit and presents themselves as such, the right result should occur regardless of the type of recruiter. As Jennifer is eluding to, working with contingency recruiters can sometimes be challenging when they are only trying to present a high volume of candidates to increase their chances of placing a candidate. The best recruiters focus on the “A-List” (or best fit) candidates.
Jennifer McClure advised job seekers to "always ask the recruiter how their process works, what happens to their resume if they send it to the recruiter and what should they expect from the recruiter in terms of follow up or actions." She added that many recruiters do not operate the same way, and “if job seekers would ask these questions of each recruiter they interact with, it would go a long way toward eliminating some of the frustrations with recruiters.”
One of my favorite peers in the industry, David Graziano, offered an additional resource on a related topic: How to Choose and Partner with a Recruiter. In this post, job seekers will learn, amongst other things, questions to ask the recruiter and what they should ask you.
Karla Porter and Grethen Benes appreciated the post and summarized the recruiters' responsibilities well. Karla stated the post “serves as a great reminder to be all you can be with your clients.” Gretchen accurately stated, “It all comes down to the relationship and being “present” for the process and conversation.”