How to get the most from your recruiter

Most people view recruiters as a necessary evil!  They have in the past, gained as bad a rap as being an Estate Agent,  in the times of economic booms!

No doubt there are a lot of bad operators out there and I am not going to dwell on typical failings in this blog,  but suggest how you might get the best out of any recruiter you might engage with.

What type of recruitment agency?

What sort of recruitment agency you choose to engage with will obviously depend greatly on what stage you’re at with your career and what type of role you are looking for.

One of the most reoccurring themes I hear, is that candidates never get any feedback, or at most just the auto-reply when their CV hits the recruitment company’s system. Yes, that is frustrating in extreme, but can be due to a lot of factors – the role has been withdrawn, or changed, your CV does not match what the job description states – by that I mean in terms of key words matching (see my blog on “CV Black holes”).

Another frustration is the time a candidate invests in going to meet various recruiters, before they will put their CV forward to the company for a given role and it never seems to develop into any meaningful action.  Again – it can be factors above, the company requirement changed, or perhaps you didn’t present to the recruitment agency, as someone that would suit the culture of their client company.  Harsh, but a reality.  When you meet the recruiter at the recruitment agency, you should always endeavor to present as if you were actually attending an interview for that dream job, because in effect you are.

It’s a fact that the recruiter is the gatekeeper between you & that dream job.

So, returning to the theme of selecting a recruiter that will work well for you, if you have a multiple skills-set that can be applied to a variety of different industries and jobs, then perhaps the bigger, Multi-National agencies might be a good bet.  Example – if you have strong administration/secretarial skills, then you are,  by virtue of that – highly placeable in to lots of businesses – attitude permitting!

If you have very niche specialist skills, then I would pick recruitment companies that have a demonstrable track record in that specialism.  These are usually going to be smaller, boutique agencies, where you may get more attention, in terms of overall career signposting and feedback on your CV, profile.  However most of the big global agencies, also have consultants that specialise in your sector, be it construction or board level finance appointments.

Recruiters receive a lot of solicited and unsolicited CVs everyday, the vast majority of  candidates which they will never place into a role.  They spend an incredible amount of time sifting through these (or in the case of bigger agencies) – robots do!

They also receive an incredible amount of calls from candidates of a general nature and messages left, which in some cases they do struggle to get back to candidates, unless there’s a desperate reason for them to!

These would be my top 5 tips to maximise your success with a chosen recruiter/agency:

(1)     Specify honestly to the recruiter exactly what you are looking for, in terms of level of role, salary, location.  Be prepared for feedback that you might necessarily want – that your salary requirements are not commensurate with the desired role.  Also, improvements to your CV and general demeanor for interviews – take that all on board constructively.  If you don’t want to hear – walk away!

(2)    Keeping in touch – with the best will in the world, we would all like to call all of our candidates on a weekly basis, or email them.  This isn’t realistic.  From personal experience, I can honestly say, that if a candidate sends me an email every fortnight, or gives me a call on that same basis, they will certainly tug at my heart strings (!), or play to my guilt of not yet having found them something, so they will certainly strike a chord and I will be more inclined to find something for them, if it’s within my current or future remit.  DO NOT – call a recruiter incessantly, or bombard them with emails as they will get irritated.  Recruiters WILL find you when they want you, believe me, which moves me neatly onto point 3!

(3)     Accessibility – I am quite unusual in that I will often call candidates after business hours to suit them.  Most other recruitment agents won’t.  Ensure that as an active job seeker, you regularly check your LinkedIn messages, voicemail & email!  I know Generation Y & Z like to communicate by snapchat, and all other social means, bar the old-fashioned email tool, but this is where recruiters tend to go to first – rightly or wrongly, if they can’t get you on the phone!  If you’re working and it’s difficult to talk in the working day, ask the recruiter to call you at a designated time.  If they miss you, take the time out to call them back as soon as possible.  The world of recruitment is fast moving.  We don’t live in an age anymore whereby most jobs would have had a defined “closing date”.  The quickest/best/responsive get the job!

(4)     Listen  – a well chosen recruiter will proffer good feedback – you should listen, reflect, take it on board and act upon it.  Re-evaluate your aspirations.

(5)     Be honest – the way in which recruiters do business with their clients, is against pre-agreed terms & conditions.  For you the candidate this means that if you have already applied directly to the client company, or been put forward by another agency, or even attended an interview with the client company in the last 12 months – tell the recruiter!  They may not be able to act on your behalf.  Also, if you are at the final stages of another job application, let the recruiter know this.  You will create some bad feeling if you fail to disclose this to the recruiter and they have been busy working on your behalf to get you that dream job.  Also, where possible extend the courtesy of informing a recruiter who has been working on your behalf, if your circumstances change and you find a role etc.

And finally you might ask – why should I use a 3rd party recruiter? Would it not be easier to go directly to the company?  – It probably can be, but a professional, well-connected recruiter will have the direct line to the hiring manager, or HR person, within the company, so they can sell you – the candidate, in a way, that you just might not get the opportunity to, as “just another external nobody”.  That is why, it’s imperative to build a positive relationship with your recruiter, they are ultimately the gatekeeper and in some cases, may even have a casting vote in the company’s final decision making.  They will have observed and noted, your general interaction, your quickness to respond, the language in which you communicate etc., which could all be another component in you getting that dream job!

And – the last word on the subject, a good recruiter will have access to jobs that never see the light of day (true in my case) as they aren’t advertised for whatever reason, so who knows what that hidden gem of a recruiter might have for you!!

Happy job hunting.