Working Successfully with Recruitment Consultants – Candidate Guide

We recently asked for votes from our readers and followers in our May Poll ( rating their experiences working with recruiters. The response was generally pretty negative with low satisfaction levels.

We think it is therefore useful to offer a guide to people in how best to choose and work with a recruiter and what to expect.

  1. Be selective about which recruiter you work with.

    Do your research before you send them your CV. Ask your colleagues/friends for recommendations, see who is rated highly on places such as LinkedIn – just be thorough! A job search is an important process and must be handled correctly. You wouldn’t buy a house without doing the necessary checks so why would you treat a job search any differently? We suggest you check the following:

    1. Does the consultant know your market area? Can they therefore advise you properly on the companies you should be targeting based on your experiences?
    2. Do they have the connections in the industry to be able to add any value to your search or are they firing CVs blindly into HR email addresses? If you speak to a recruiter you will soon be able to tell and if it is the latter, you may as well send CVs to HR yourself!
    3. Are they honest with you? Most people complain to us that they speak to a recruiter and never hear from them again. We ALWAYS say if we cannot help someone and we are happy to give advice on how people can perhaps secure options directly themselves.
  1. Understand what we do.

    Recruiters are employed and paid by clients to find them candidates who they find difficult to find themselves. Depending on the market conditions, clients can be very open or very closed to who they wish to be introduced to them. Right now (June 2012) clients are more prepared to wait for people that tick all the boxes. Therefore if a recruiter is responding to say that they probably cannot assist you then please do not take offence. This is because we know our clients well and what our clients will consider. Take the feedback on board and focus your future search on the basis of the response.

  1. Understand recruiters receive MANY applications for positions every day.

    Therefore be very careful and targeted in what you apply for.

    1. Don’t send your CV to all open positions multiple times, particularly if the positions are for a range of job titles. For example, if you are an architect, send your details to the architect jobs listed.
    2. Please carefully read the job requirements. If a skill is listed that you do not have, please remember the clients have asked recruiters to find people with that skill – they won’t pay a recruiter a fee for someone that doesn’t have it. A common example in Asia is the requirement for someone with language skills, usually Mandarin, and/or locally based experience. It is no good asking a recruiter if the client is prepared to consider someone that doesn’t have this – rest assured, we will say in our job descriptions if a client is willing to do so!
    3. Due to the high volume of applications, recruiters simply cannot respond to every application they receive. If you strongly feel you should be considered for an advertised position then by all means follow up. If you are speculatively asking a recruiter if they can find you a job, please see point 2.
  1. Work with one good recruiter

    There is no need to work with multiple recruiters. Most of you have specific skills and experiences and your market sectors are therefore generally pretty small. Whilst it is tempting to try to cover all options by using many recruiters, this type of approach often results in duplications and a lot of time is then spent trying to figure out where your details have gone. If you follow the advice in Point 1 above, you will find a recruiter that can add value to your search and may be able to present you with a few options based on your experiences. A good recruiter is also one who is honest in telling you if they cannot help – the very best will actually take the time to point you in the right direction so you can help yourself.

  1. Please take (a good recruiters) advice on board.

    For example, if a recruiter advises you to revise your CV, this is because they know what their clients will look for. If a recruiter gives you advice on how to interview successfully with their client, this is because they are helping you maximise your chance of receiving an offer. We work in recruitment, full-time, every day and know how companies go about hiring their staff. The best of us are considered essential partners by our clients so when we are offering advice, we are representing what our client partners are looking for.

The important overall point to remember is that recruiters work for their client companies – they ultimately pay our fees and are the reason the recruitment business exists. Whilst the best of us can sometimes help people to find a job by providing them with ideas and options, it is very dependent on that person’s skills and the needs/sentiment of the market at that time. If you go to a recruiter expecting them to simply find you a job then you are likely to be disappointed. However, if you go into the process having followed the points above and are open to guidance and feedback, then working with a recruiter can be an extremely rewarding and positive experience.

There are of course recruiters out there who unfortunately do give our industry a bad name – common complaints usually centre around a lack of honesty or lack of follow up on actions promised. A lot of candidates also tell us that other recruiters just fire their details out blindly to the market. We are pretty confident that if you follow the guide above you will find yourself working with a consultant more likely to be able to assist you (even if it’s just with some good advice) and avoiding those recruiters who’s sole focus is on quantity rather than quality. We know this guide is relatively direct in it’s tone but at the same time we hope it provides a refreshing, yet honest, guideline on how to make the most out of your experience of working with a recruiter.

We are available for any further advice or tips – just drop us a note in the comments at the bottom of this post!

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