How to Work with Recruiters

Don’t under estimate the power of working with a recruiter. Recruiters can be your best resource. If you’ve entered into a job search with a good recruiter, you’re in luck. Recruiters want to put their best candidates forward and are there to help you.

Recruiters can:

  • Give you tips to help polish your resume and reposition bullet points
  • Tell you if you need to rethink your cover letter
  • Provide a window into a firm’s corporate culture
  • Give you insight to questions you’ll face during the interview
  • Provide invaluable feedback on your interview
  • Help you understand compensation demographics
  • Help with difficult financial negotiations

Getting off on the right foot is important. Send a recruiter an email with a good introduction when reaching out for the first time. An email allows the recruiter to create a contact file for you, review your background, and be better prepared to talk with you.

  • In a brief paragraph provide basic information of your current role, what you are seeking next in a position and geographic preference.
  • Ask the recruiter to set up a call or in person meeting to further discuss your background.
  • If a recruiter doesn’t have an immediate opening that fits your background, they may wait to conduct an interview until they have something that’s a fit. Not to worry, a good recruiter will get you in their queue for future roles.

Understand the Recruiter’s Role

  • Recruiters work for companies.
    They are hired to find candidates that are an exact match to a position description. Companies typically reach out to recruiters after they have tried the search on their own first, so are not often interested in entertaining stretch candidates. Companies want quick results.
  • A good recruiter knows how to find the candidates they are looking for.
    They will categorize you properly and send you appropriate position descriptions. It’s a good idea to send a recruiter any resume updates, shifts in career directions, and/or promotions so they can reconsider you for other future opportunities.
  • Never change your email address – a recruiter needs to be able to reach you. Make sure these emails are not ending up in your Spam folder.
  • Connect with recruiters on social media – but make sure they also have your resume. Recruiters have thousands of contacts on LinkedIn.
  • Make sure when working with a recruiter they are not randomly forwarding your resume or using your candidacy as a way of marketing their business. You want to make sure you can adapt your resume for openings, control which firm’s know you are on the market, and you don’t want your candidacy held for ransom by a recruiter trying to pick up a new piece of business. Just ask a recruiter how they conduct their business and ask for confidentiality in your job search.
  • Understand that you are building a relationship for your entire career. While you might not work with a recruiter this year, you might several years from now.

 You may not be qualified for the job, or you’re a close fit but not an exact match.

  • Recruiters will typically submit 6-12 candidates for a position, but interview many more. Make sure prior to your interview you have the full position description for the role, so you are ready to discuss how your background is a match.
  • You may not be provided with the company name. Don’t worry about this. There are several reasons for this. A firm might be replacing an internal candidate and want to conduct a confidential search, a firm might want to consider candidates for future roles and don’t want them disappointed/disgruntled that they didn’t make the final cut for this opportunity, some firms really want to protect their “proprietary” information, and recruiters may want to maintain control of the search (stop candidates trying to go around them – which happens – or the position description being forward).
  • You might make the top 12 list by the recruiter, but might not get picked up by the company for an interview. Decision can be out of the recruiter’s hands.
  • There are a variety of reasons you might not move through various interview rounds – it could be skill set, tenure, or corporate culture fit.

Don’t shoot the messenger

  • Recruiters want to work with you again. Just because one candidate got hired doesn’t mean the rest of the group were not great candidates as well.
  • Don’t ignore feedback given. Thank a recruiter for submitting you as a candidate and thank them for feedback.
  • Yes, the feedback can feel personal – rise to the occasion and learn from your mistakes.
  • Interviewing is a numbers game – you won’t get every offer and that’s ok. You just need the one role that’s right for you.

Try to understand if the recruiter worked in your industry and knows what you do for a living.

  • If so, great – jump right with industry lingo – you should have a smooth conversation. You can tell if someone knows what you do for a living by the questions they ask.
  • If not, be respectful, be helpful, and try to understand the recruiter is learning from you – be a good teacher.
  • Understand the recruiter is the bridge between you and the company.

Make sure the recruiter understands how your background fits the position description.

  • Provide the recruiter with detailed answers for how your background is an exact match for the role. If you are a stretch candidate make sure you connect the dots for the recruiter on how your skills can be effective for the role.
  • If the recruiter asks you to provide a cover letter or written response to questions don’t say you’d rather set up a call because it’s easier for you. Behind the scenes recruiters are writing a summary of their conversation with you and submitting this along with your CV. Providing a recruiter with a written synopsis for how your background matches a position will only strengthen your candidacy.

Your resume/cover letter may not be getting you in the door.

  • Make it easy for recruiters and firms to find what they’re looking for on your resume. You might have to tailor your resume to fit a position.
  • Misspellings of any kind on resumes or cover letters can kick you out of the process.
  • Typos always give the impression that you don’t pay attention to details.
  • Misformatted or sloppy resumes let someone know you don’t have basic Word skills or take pride in your work product.
  • No one likes a generic cover letter – this says everything about your effort – if you are lazy in applying for a job, firms think you’ll probably perform this way on the job.
  • Hire a professional if needed. Spending a few dollars to have your resume redone, a couple cover letters written, or practicing interview skills can make a huge difference if you need help.

Sometimes recruiters don’t have all the facts

  • Companies many not provide feedback for why they are moving forward with certain candidates over others.
  • Sometimes recruiters are hired by HR/internal recruiting staff and they don’t have a direct line to the managers actually conducting the interviews. This disconnect can make it difficult to understand what’s going on behind the scenes and provide candidates feedback.
  • Sometimes firms explain a role differently to candidates than to the recruiters. Provide good feedback to the recruiter so they can help clarify information going forward.
  • Some companies have multiple roles and recruiters might not understand exactly what the company is seeking – particularly if there is room for considering senior/junior candidates.
  • Sometimes companies engage a recruiter for a search when they really have an internal candidate positioned for the role. A conclusion frustrating for the recruiting firm as well as candidates.
  • Sometimes searches get delayed – a firm’s priorities shift, quarterly work schedules set searches on the sidelines, and budgets get pushed into next quarter.
  • Searches just get cancelled. A firm might get an outside referral that fills the role, a parent company hands down bad news, or someone internally gets assigned the new tasks.

Be highly responsive if you have entered into a search

  • When companies are scheduling it’s important that you are immediately responsive to get on the calendar. Don’t make the recruiter track you down. Be responsive on technology.
  • Provide recruiter with immediate feedback following an interview so they can follow up effectively on your behalf.

Think you are above a recruiter or that you are the best candidate on the planet – Be careful.

  • Recruiters are reviewing candidates from top tied schools, with top grade point averages, top licensing credentials, coming from respected firms daily. Don’t under estimate the competition. You might be an amazing candidate – but you are not the only amazing candidate.
  • There are great recruiters who have worked in the industry, that are well connected, and that know exactly what you do for a living. If you assume you are talking to a junior HR staff person – you might be in for a rude awakening. Always be respectful.
  • Had a bad experience working with a recruiter in the past? Don’t let that affect your next relationship. Let the recruiter know you didn’t have a good last experience and why. A good recruiter will understand and try to help you have a great next experience.
  • Understand that recruiters within industries are highly connected. Internal recruiters are friends with external recruiters. Don’t say anything negative about a recruiter.

Downside to working with recruiters. Yep , there are bad recruiters.

  • Some recruiters are terrible at following up and providing feedback.
  • There are junior recruiters that have never worked in your industry that have no idea what you do for a living.
  • Some recruiters/interviewers ask the most ridiculous questions that don’t help you position your background for a role.
  • Some recruiters are afraid of conflict and uncomfortable disseminating bad news.
  • Many recruiters are often overworked and short on time. Recruiting is actually a difficult business. Companies demand candidates quickly and interviewing/following up with candidate is very time consuming.
  • Recruiters in large firms are predominantly sales people – always selling/always closing – hustling to meet sales quotas. You can end up on the short end of the stick.
  • The best you can do is understand the type of recruiter you are working with, adjust accordingly, try to build a relationship, and let them know you appreciate any feedback they can provide.