Five Strategies to Optimize Your Recruiter Experience

February 26, 2015

recruiter experience

If you find yourself in job search mode, the representation of a specialty recruiter, when done right, can be a tremendously powerful thing.

A strong endorsement from a well-respected recruiter in your industry can potentially put you front and centre for a position because the hiring manager in question trusts the judgment and expertise that a recruiter provides. The right recruiter understands the client and is able to get a feel for the overall market. And when recruiters and candidates “click”, maintaining an open and honest dialogue, their collaborative relationship is one where both parties benefit.

Recruiters can earn a bad rap from candidates. From my perspective, some of that bad press is based on misconceptions that candidates have about what recruiters can and can’t do. So with the goal of making the recruitment process smoother and more productive for everyone, here are several concrete tips about what you can do to get the most out of your interactions with recruiters and land the role you want.

Understand What a Recruiter Can (and Can’t) Do

Like any other professional, recruiters have strengths and limitations. The first thing to keep in mind is that recruiters are working to fill a specific set of jobs on their current roster. These jobs come from clients who have specific talent needs. The client approaches the recruiter, and the recruiter then begins a search through their pool of qualified candidates, or talent pipeline. These are almost always people in a recruiter’s existing network, which is why my team at Argentus values networking with new candidates – we operate in the very narrow, high-demand vertical of supply chain.

Sometimes new candidates working with recruiters for the first time misunderstand the role of the recruiter and expect them to find a job for them much like a Hollywood agent. But recruiters are not job counselors, and their recruitment practice thrives if they focus on active job mandates from clients.

If you are on the hunt for your next job and work in the same market area as a specialty recruiter, it’s a good idea to connect. A smart recruiter might not have the right job for you today, but things change quickly in recruiting and a warm contact made now is a possible fit tomorrow. Build a strong rapport, have some patience, and keep your expectations realistic. And it never hurts to share business intelligence and stay visible on LinkedIn.

Do Your Research & Pick a Recruiter in Your Field

Many recruiters are still generalists. This means they try and staff roles across sectors and in a variety of fields. The most powerful recruitment firms and the most advantageous recruiter relationships to forge are ones that operate within a specialized business niche, like advertising & communications, accounting, IT, or supply chain. Focused efforts on the client and candidate side are a recipe for success.

My company’s specialty focus falls under the supply chain umbrella; this includes categories like supply chain management, procurement, distribution, operations, and change management. Because Argentus is exclusively focused on supply chain, we have a very strong network in those spaces and will turn down both candidates and clients if they’re looking for jobs or staff outside of our vertical.

If you call us and we say that we unfortunately won’t be able to find you a job, it’s because are in the business of delivering results and don’t go through the motions or make false promises. The right recruiter will not waste your time – or theirs. So do some research and find a firm that’s invested in your field and can demonstrate a successful track record.

Embrace Full Disclosure: Open Communication is Key

Okay, so you’ve found the right recruiter that’s specific to your field. Or you’ve heard from a recruiter with a job that looks interesting. Here’s my next tip: once you begin to discuss roles with a recruiter, tell them everything you can about your job search activities to ensure that you’re both on the same page. Always ask who the position is with. If a recruiter is unwilling to offer that information, something is suspect. Don’t permit anyone to forward your resume for a role without first knowing what company is in play.

If a recruiter mentions a job with a specific company, you also need to let them know if you’ve applied to that company or interviewed with them before, or if another recruiter is already representing you there. If you’ve already applied, that means the recruiter can no longer represent you for that job because the client has already evaluated you for the role. It doesn’t matter if time has passed between the applications. It makes both the candidate and recruiter look unprofessional. Remember that openness is key.

Be Honest – If You Don’t Like a Role, Don’t Interview For It

Recruiters can be pretty emphatic, and we really want to our candidates to be excited about jobs. This often means recruiters will try to open your mind up to something you may not have otherwise considered – for example, evaluating the pros and cons of contract vs permanent full-time work.

But here’s the caveat: don’t let yourself be convinced to throw your hat in the ring for something you really, really don’t want to do; that just causes headaches for everyone down the road. Say you and your recruiter start discussing a job that would amount to a two hour commute. Used to commuting? Great. But if you honestly can’t picture yourself making that kind of daily commitment, don’t fool yourself just to please the recruiter or make yourself feel as though you’re progressing in your job search.

Recruiters are only successful if the candidates they place are happy. And we’ve all had placements evaporate at the last second because the candidate wasn’t honest with themselves and upfront about what they were looking for. Don’t let that happen. It’s another situation that makes both the candidate and recruiter look bad.

Deal With One Recruiter Per Firm, Not the Whole Office

Recruitment firms will typically have an account manager for each job, and a specific “point person” for each candidate that comes through the door. Even in a heavily team-based recruitment office like Argentus, we still maintain this structure because it keeps the business organized and helps us avoid headaches and miscommunication.

Occasionally candidates will call and speak to one recruiter, and when they don’t hear back from them after a few days, they’ll go around the office trying to get the ear of everyone else in the company, hoping for quicker results. In these situations, we have to spend time untangling who’s told who what. More crossed wires and unnecessary legwork ultimately mean more delays. Obviously, there are situations where you can’t speak to the same recruiter (e.g. if they’re out of the office). You can, of course, ask another recruiter to pass along a message, but it saves both candidates and recruiters a lot of time if you’re up front about who you’ve dealt with already at the firm.

I hope you find these strategies to optimize your experience with recruiters helpful and productive. Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments!

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