Maybe I Should Use a Recruiter?

Deep into your job search, it becomes critical to use every asset available to you. One of the bridges you’ll most likely approach will have you cross over to the dark side.

No, this isn’t a chapter in an upcoming Star Wars saga. Rather, it is a reference to the choice of using a recruiter as an asset to your overall job search strategy.

Today, solid networking is a key factor to finding a job. It used to be a matter of whom you know. Now, thanks largely to social media, it has turned to what you know about whom you know.

 
 

Regardless of the depth of your personal network and how well you work it, there are some job opportunities that are not advertised. These are what realtors call “pocket listings.”

This practice of keeping some opportunities in one’s pocket, not for public viewing, is common within the recruitment industry, and this is where recruiters factor in.

You want to build a network of people to keep you top-of-mind regarding unadvertised job opportunities. Strong recruiters are always looking to network with people who can refer candidates their way for new assignments.

Who knows, when you least expect it, you may receive a call from one with an amazing opportunity. Even if a recruiter can’t help you today, it may be worthwhile to establish relationships within their community to have access to anything that may further your goals.

That said, please understand that recruiters will not act as your agent or career manager. By these titles recruiters today represent companies, not candidates. Their quest is to list a position and then to work toward finding suitable candidates to fulfill it. Then and only then do they get paid for doing so.

Read what’s woven into this fabric. Given this model, it makes perfect sense for a recruiter to work with multiple candidates to get the position filled. It’s akin to having multiple offers on a house for sale.

You will not receive exclusivity. In fact, you’ll receive very little at all, aside from access to open positions otherwise unavailable to you, and someone who may set an interview for you to explore them.

What Can Recruiters Do for Me Then?

Recruiters can be helpful in various ways. They can be a source of information about companies, what careers are trending where, as well as those that are out of favor.

Should a recruiter send you to an interview, they may provide a bit of inside color and coaching that will help position you more strategically. Many have experience critiquing resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn/Facebook profiles.

How Should I Present Myself to a Recruiter?

As a result of the common misconceptions of recruiters, many candidates will outright lie to a recruiter and embellish about who they are, what they have accomplished and what they are looking for in terms of a job and salary.

This is a mistake! Recruiters are, for the most part, great judges of talent and character. They use this to describe you to a potential employer. Their clients do not react well when the person they meet does not live up to the recruiter’s characterization of them. A few suggestions to consider:

Stick to One Type of Behavior No Matter Who You Interview With

Do not act differently in an interview with a recruiter than you do with an employer. Remember that how you interview with the recruiter is how they will see you interviewing with their client.

If you fail to connect or show enthusiasm with the recruiter, she will dismiss you as a viable candidate within minutes, and you’ll never get to the big table. Their reputation with clients will always trump their allegiance to you, the candidate.

Be consistent, honest and forthright with everyone within the process. Any disconnect may cost you the prize, at any level.

Readily Reveal Both Your Weaknesses and Strengths

Being dishonest with a recruiter is as productive as being dishonest with your physician. Recruiters may call you about one job, while the chance of you actually getting that job may be low.

However, if a recruiter likes and respects you, and feels that she understands you, she will keep you in mind for other positions and let others in their firm – and firms they network with – know about you.

This can increase the power of your network tremendously. However, it will only occur if the recruiter has the whole picture and can make an honest assessment of who you really are and where you will best fit.

Recruiters Treat Their Time as If It Were Currency

They often have limited time to fill a position, requiring great discernment as they vet each potential candidate. Therefore, a phone interview is not a social chat. A recruiter wants to get a sense of your personality to determine if a face-to-face or more in-depth interview is warranted.

So treat this as a genuine interview, not an informal chat. Be professional but be yourself. Also, do not take a phone interview in a place where there may be any outside distractions. It will require absolute focus.

Research the Company the Recruiter Is Working For

Research the position you are being interviewed for and the company that offers it. This effort will give you deeper understanding, assist with your strategy within the interview process and provide much needed confidence at the time you sit down to interview.

Doing your homework also shows that you have interest in the company and product/service they offer.

Hold Recruiters Accountable to the Process You’re Both Following

Ask when you’ll next hear from the recruiter and what else you can be doing to progress the search. Even though they may need constant prompting, don’t be too persistent or demanding of answers from recruiters.

While persistence is an admirable quality, too much assertiveness can be seen as being obnoxiously aggressive.

What has been your experience with recruiters? Have you met with one as part of the interview process for a job? Please share your observations and any tips you may have in the comments below.

Jeff HenningJeff Henning is a business leader and educator in Southern California. He is the father of 10 daughters. His expertise is in creating meaningful change within a business to drive results focused upon people, profits and planet. Jeff is the founder of Square Peg, an organization that recognizes the tremendous challenge Baby Boomers face while attempting to reinvent themselves in the new career landscape.

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